Despite being a self-proclaimed probiotic junkie, I believe there are numerous ways to enhance your gut health and even more reasons why we should prioritize doing so.
What Can it Help?
Digestive health? Check.
Healing your gut can have a host of benefits from a physical and digestive perspective. (SOURCE)
Immune health? Check.
Healing your gut can help your immune system function better to prevent disease and illness. (SOURCE)
Mental health? Check. Check. Check.
From a mental health perspective, gut healing can be ESSENTIAL, making it a major piece of the puzzle for those looking to feel better. (SOURCE)
As the Indian Proverb goes “a healthy person has a thousand wishes, but a sick person has only one.”
And this rings especially true for someone dealing with anxiety, depression, and other exhausting mood issues.
Mental illness is often called an invisible illness, which often makes it even more difficult to deal with, talk about, and heal.
In fact, I’ve often remarked that I’d take a broken leg over the soul-crushing feeling of depression or the “jumping out of my skin” feeling of anxiety.
(This is the moment, dear reader, where you can know for sure... I have been where you have been. You are not alone on this journey and there is hope for healing. Believe it. Believe it. Believe it. )
A Note On The Term Mental Illness
But first, I just have to say: the term "mental illness" falls short.
It falls so incredibly short because it’s based on the (false) premise that some of us are well mentally and others of us are sick.
Instead, we are all on a spectrum of wellbeing. Some moments (…or days… or years!) our placement on that spectrum is shifted.
Our mental health and wellbeing is a priority for all of us humans. Every. Single. One. Not just those who have been given a label or diagnosis.
Given our modern, plugged-in, fast-paced lifestyle, the need for healing strategies has become increasingly apparent.
The time is now to shift our focus to healing strategies. And there’s no better place to start, than the microbiome.
What Can We Do?
So, if the gut health is such a power-player in our mental health, what are some actionable strategies we can engage with and use to feel better now?
I'm so glad you asked… LET’S JUMP IN:
• Sun’s out. Buns out.
Did you know that sunlight effects your microbiome? (Source)
On that note….
• Manage Your ALAN (artificial light at night)
Artificial light at night is disruptive. Period. We were designed to rise and fall with the sun. I don’t. You don’t. This is not a shaming-game. This is the reality. Do your research in regard to which light bulbs product the least blue light (hint: incandescent), and also considering investing in some blue-light blocking glasses.
"Circadian disruption by nighttime light perturbs those processes and is associated with increasing incidence of certain cancers, metabolic dysfunction and mood disorders.” Also, this from the same study: "Converging evidence suggests that circadian disruption alters the function of brain regions involved in emotion and mood regulation.” (Source)
• Eat a variety of whole, real foods "It is known that an abundant supply of diverse foods promotes the biodiversity in the microbiota and also the variety of the microbial genes expressed that can be triggers of health status. “ (Source)
• Take a high quality probiotic with mood targeted species and strains. It’s not all in your head… but it could be in your gut. Replenish the good bacteria to simmer down the bad guys.
"Advances in this field have linked psychiatric disorders to changes in the microbiome, making it a potential target for novel antidepressant treatments.” (SOURCE)
• Eat less sugar
"We conclude that the quantity of refined sugar in the diet can significantly influence gut function and the composition of bowel contents.” (Source)
• Only take antibiotics when medically necessary
"Recurrent antibiotic exposure is associated with increased risk for depression and anxiety but not for psychosis.” (Source)
• Get enough sleep. Sleep effects healing.
“...these reports support a key role for circadian rhythms in regulating the gut microbiome and host responses to gastrointestinal pathogens.” (Source)
• Stop using artificial sweeteners. Quit the diet soda. Stop it with the fake sweeteners in your tea. (Source )
• Lower your stress to boost your gut health
Right now. Identity THREE ways that you reduce stress. Write them down and commit to doing them, ok?
"More recently, the microbiota has emerged as a key player in the control of this axis, especially during conditions of stress provoked by real or perceived homeostatic challenge.” (Source)
That should get you started.
Try not to get overwhelmed.
Remember: it’s all perspective.
Rather than focusing on the problem, we are diving straight in with solutions.
There is so much hope for healing. Believe it.
Sylvia Hall is the cofounder of Lifted, a wellbeing movement and the creator of THREE psychobiotic formulas; probiotics designed for mood support. Learn more about her and the Lifted movement here: www.liftednaturals.com
The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of The Pursuit of Happiness. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.