10th October is World Mental Health Day - a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.
It is often easy for us to get caught up in feelings of stress, anxiety and depression ( which accounts for 49% of all working days lost to ill health) and nutrition plays a major factor in how we feel and perform on a daily basis.
Only 13% of the UK adult population report living with high levels of good mental health, meaning that 87% are affected in some way by poor mental health.
We are delighted to partner with mental fitness measurement platform 87% to help address the psychological elements of ultimate wellness. We believe everybody is a 10/10 and in the same way we build physical fitness, we need to understand how our brain functions and the effects everyday life has on our overall wellbeing which is why we are offering our subscription customers access to the platform for FREE*
*standard monthly cost is £20
This partnership will help us meet our mission in creating wider awareness around mental health in general, providing resources and support on the topic of effective cellular nutrition within the body and the positive effects for the mind.
There are a complex range of factors which affect a person's mental health, and one reason is physiological. Below we explain the link between the gut and brain and give tips to explain how we can do something about it.
How does the gut affect mood?
The digestive system and the brain communicate via two pathways;
- By sending neurological signals via the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve extends from the base of the brain down to all of the organs. This is a bi-directional pathway, referring to the “brain-gut axis”.
- Via postbiotics.
Postbiotics are metabolic byproducts of live bacteria in the gut. These cross the protective layer around the brain, the ‘blood-brain barrier’. Once these chemicals are in the brain, they may cause brain inflammation.
Gut issues are actually based in the brain. The brain, therefore, must be addressed for the gut to function optimally and support mood.
What is the “gut-brain axis”?
As the vagus nerve is bi-directional this can either be referred to as the “brain-gut axis” or the “gut-brain axis”. This is the communication system between your gut and brain. The vagus nerve is one of the largest nerves in your body and sends messages back and forth. When this has inadequate fuel, it can reduce your energy levels, increase the feeling of fatigue in your body and your sensitivity to pain. Over time this can affect our mood.
Recent research has shown that gut microbiota – (trillions of microorganisms in the gut) regulate brain function. This helps explain why a troubled tummy can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Because the brain and gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected, an upset stomach can be the cause of or the product of stress, anxiety or depression.
Your brain and gut are also connected through neurotransmitters. These are chemicals which are produced in the gut and brain, controlling our feelings and emotions. E.g, the neurotransmitter serotonin contributes to feelings of happiness and also helps control your body clock. Another example is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps control feelings of fear and anxiety.
What happens to our “gut-brain axis” when we are stressed?
A range of different factors can affect brain-cell health including inflammation, blood-sugar imbalances, hormone imbalances and insufficient nutrient intake.
Recent research has shown that your gut microbiota play a major role in determining how your brain responds to stress. If you’ve ever felt anxious or nervous you’ll probably have noticed your stomach is upset too. You directly feel the tensions caused by your emotions in your gut. When stress or anxiety causes the brain’s emotional processing system to affect your gut, it changes the flow of nutrients from your stomach into the blood-stream. This can become problematic for processing nutrients in your body and can lead you to feeling bloated and tired.
In many cases, it is stress that causes the gut to react and secrete painful digestive juices. E.g, norepinephrine is a chemical released in your brain as a result of chronic stress. Recent research has shown that along with increasing your heart rate and raising your blood pressure, norepinephrine stimulates the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut that causes stomach cramps, bloating, ulcers, diarrhoea and constipation. If you belong to the 20% of people in the UK that suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic stress is one of the main triggers of symptom severity. This connection is also why it is difficult to heal a distressed gut without considering the role of stress and emotion.
This complicated internal process is worsened by the fact that nowadays, we don’t consume the nutrients our bodies require to be healthy. Cellnutrition provides a range of supplements which provide key nutrients to support you. This includes Cellnutrition Quinton and Omegabiocell369.
Cellnutrition Quinton is a 100% natural, marine-based complete mineral supplement providing all 78 minerals and trace elements that are required by your cells to thrive and function optimally. During periods of stress absorption of nutrients is often further reduced in the body, increasing the demand for these vital elements.
Omegabiocell369 is a 100% plant based Omega oil supplement. It provides ultra-pure ethyl esters of Omega-3, 6 and 9. Omega-3 (EPA and DHA) has been shown to improve mood in various studies, due to its anti-inflammatory effect and function in the gut microbiota.
How can we improve brain-gut health?
The foundation of all degenerative diseases, including the brain, is inflammation. The first step to a healthy brain is to remove toxins which affect brain health and function. Some ways to reduce inflammation includes;
Reduce the consumption of processed food;
Processed food lacks the nutrients required by your cells. Alongside this these foods can often increase inflammation in the body, affecting the gut microbiome, hormones and the balance of neurotransmitters and insulin-resistance. Studies have shown a direct link between inflammation, insulin resistance and depression. Swapping processed foods for whole foods can have a significant impact on many aspects of your health, supporting your hormone levels, improving sleep and overall well being.
Don’t eat when you’re upset;
Emotions have a profound effect on the activity that occurs in your gut and interferes with healthy digestion. When you feel stressed, anxious, angry or sad, chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine are released in the brain and gut to interfere with healthy digestion. Mindfully tuning into your emotions before you eat and making sure you’re eating for the right reasons can help, although this can take practice so be patient with yourself. Talking to someone you trust and sharing how you feel has a similar effect to eating something just to make you feel better – and it’s healthier. By becoming more aware of your gut feelings, you can better regulate your emotions and make healthier decisions.
Whilst eating a healthy diet can have a profound impact on your mental health, supplementation has shown to be beneficial.
Some nutrients associated with supporting dopamine production include; Minerals, Choline (supports dopamine release), Uridine (especially in brains with fewer dopamine receptors), L Theanine, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine and Omega-3.
Minerals: Many minerals are recognised for their beneficial effects on the brain including magnesium, selenium, zinc, lithium and iron. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to anxiety disorders in several clinical studies. Supplementation with magnesium and vitamin B6 effectively reduced premenstrual related anxiety. Whilst magnesium supplementation is beneficial, it works in synergy with at least 20 other minerals and trace elements for optimal absorption and function in the body. Cellnutrition Quinton provides each of these elements in the correct proportions and in a bioavailable form to work effectively and in harmony with your body.
Omega-3: The Omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are essential for proper brain function. In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, participants took 2.5 g/day of Omega-3 or placebo capsules. Those receiving the Omega-3 capsules showed a 20% reduction in anxiety. Omega-3’s are needed for the fluidity of brain cell membranes, neurotransmitter synthesis and the activity of key enzymes that break down neurotransmitters such as serotonin, epinephrine, dopamine,
and norepinephrine. Having the correct balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 is important for optimum effects and to prevent one from shunting out the other. Omegabiocell369 provides the highest concentration of Omega-3, 6 and 9 and in an ultra-pure form as ethyl esters, having longer-lasting benefits.