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How Poor Gut Health Can Increase Anxiety and Depression Risk & What to Eat to Help

0 2 years ago

Even in grade school, you probably knew that there was some link between your stomach and your brain. Remember those butterflies you felt when you saw your crush? Or the stomach-in-knots feeling that flared up when you were in trouble?

“Stress can play a major role in tummy troubles, even initiating symptoms when there are no changes in diet. But people are often pretty surprised to learn that a whopping 90% of the communication between the brain and the gut is actually moving from the gut to the brain,” explains Desiree Nielsen, RD, a Vancouver, Canada-based registered dietitian and the author of Good for Your Gut.

Read on to learn more about the extensive conversation between your gut and your brain (aka the “gut-brain axis”), how less-than-stellar gut health can impact your mood, plus the best foods to feed your brain and good gut bacteria all at once.

The Gut-Brain Axis and Mental Health

When most of us think of our nervous system, we think of our brain and spinal cord; however, the digestive tract has a complex nervous system of its own. The enteric (or gut) nervous system actually has more nerve cells than our spinal cord, Nielsen says. Those nerves come into play when we eat a meal. Stretch receptors in our stomach activate and relay messages to the brain that we are getting full.

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