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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mental Health Month: The Gut-Mental Health Link

gut-mental health linkMay is Mental Health Month and, as part of its Fitness #4Mind4Body theme, Mental Health America (MHA) is spreading awareness about the gut-brain connection. Or, simply put, how a happy gut translates into a happier you. More and more research is revealing the mental health benefits of a healthy gut population of beneficial bacteria. One theory is that healthy gut bacteria increases blood levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that increases brain levels of the mood-boosting chemical serotonin (which are often low in people with depression).

And, in fact, there’s a strong relationship between having mental health problems and having gastrointestinal symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, pain, constipation and/or diarrhea. This is because anxiety and depression can cause changes in the gut microbiome, according to MHA. 

Several factors contribute to the health of your gut microbiome – like your environment, exercise, sleep and stress – but eating a balanced and nutritious diet is the most important thing you can do to keep your gut healthy.

Start with these gut-friendly diet tips from MHA: 
  • Eat a diet full of whole grains, lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables.
  • Skip sugary, fried, or processed foods and soft drinks.
  • Fill up on prebiotic foods like asparagus, bananas (especially if they aren’t quite ripe), garlic, onions, jicama, tomatoes, apples, berries and mangos.
  • Add probiotic foods to your diet, including yogurt (live or active cultures), unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchi, miso soup, kefir, kombucha (fermented black tea), tempeh (made of soy beans) and apple cider vinegar.
  • Consider probiotic supplements. Make sure the type of bacteria is listed on the bottle – Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are common – and that the label says that the bacteria are live and there are billions of colony forming units (CFUs).
Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment
The Haven at Pismo offers clients with co-occurring addiction and mental illness a continuum of care in one recovery program. To learn more about our integrated dual-diagnosis treatment program, call us today: 805-202-3440.