Last year I started experiencing the odd bout of anxiety. This was a particularly foreign feeling to me so I had a sense that something in my body wasn't quite right. Around the same time I observed both digestive issues (bloating, general discomfort) and brain fog/memory loss and was subsequently tested for a candida overgrowth. Testing positiveI was put on a diet to improve my gut health and each of the above symptoms disappeared, including the anxiety.
It's fascinating isn't it, how our bodies have a way of telling us exactly what we need to know. Is it time then to consider your own gut health?
By Amy Crawford, SourceYour gut health is critical
The health of your gut is extremely important to your overall well being.Itäó»s a place where a helluva lot is going on, and rightly so äóñ it has a profound impact on farmore than how much dessert you can fit in after dinner. So much so in fact that the gut is often referred to as the second brain.
This is because it is responsible for some very critical functions in your digestive and immune systems. The presence of what's called good bacteria actually enhance your health, greatly improving things like your hormone regulation, nutrient absorption, digestion, immune system strength and yourbody's ability to eliminate toxins.
As we now know, the gut also influences your mental health. The gut contains anEntericNervous System that communicates with your Central Nervous System, which triggers mood changes. It means depression, anxiety, memory loss and other cognitive functions can all be caused by your gut.
All disease begins in the gut. Hippocrates
Donäó»t you find that refreshing? The notion that by simply changing what you put on the end of your fork (or spoon) each day you can better your mental health?
The good news is that itäó»s actually quite easy to maintain a healthy gut and keep all of these bodily functions in tip top shape.
The answer? Increase your levels of good bacteria. How do you do that? With probiotics.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are microorganisms found in bacteria, yeast and fungi that keep your digestive system happy and running at itäó»s best. It's the good bacteria we've been talking about that your gut needs to keep everything running smoothly.
Using probiotics help you to:
- Boost your body's immune system by protecting it against harmful bacteria
- Assist you to digest and process your food without bloating or gas (my personal favourite)
- Restore your body's natural balance after a stint on antibiotics, which tend to kill a lot of good bacteria in your system
- Help your body absorb all the nutrients and good stuff it needs from what you eat
What about prebiotics?
Prebiotics on the other hand, are non-digestible food fibres found in specific foods that give good bacteria (like those probiotics) a helping hand to be more effective.
If you imagine probiotics are plants, then prebiotics are the soil. They provide a stimulating environment that helps the good bacteria grow and have a bigger impact on your digestive tract. For probiotics to do their thing, they need a healthy level of prebiotics around to feed them.
Prebiotic foods are a little easier to include in a healthy diet than probiotic foods (in my opinion), so to improve your gut health we'd recommend trying to incorporate them into your eating naturally, before looking at supplements. Hereäó»s a list of foods that are rich in prebiotic goodness:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Skin of apples
- Onions, leeks and celery
- Chicory root
- Rye, barley and whole oats
Combining probiotic and prebiotic rich foods in your diet can allay many mental and physical health related issuesand supportyour health and wellbeing long term. Perhaps this is the prompt you need tomake your gut health a priority.