Gut Health and Mental Health - What’s the connection?

The Gut Brain Connection

It is widely known that the gastrointestinal (GI) system and the brain are connected via millions of nerves and biochemical processes. We experience certain mental experiences through our stomachs has long been understood. Sick with worry, nerves giving way to butterflies, gut-wrenching news; these are all physiological conditions we experience as a direct result of the link between our brain and gut. 

As Harvard Health explains ‘The brain has a direct effect on the stomach and intestines. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach's juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut.’ 

brain anatomy

Gut health and anxiety

This means that even the thought of eating can lead to your stomach starting the process of digestion, similarly, intestinal issues or discomfort can be translated back to the brain as stress - and why studies have shown that inflammation of the gut has been linked to causes of anxiety and depression. 

Looking after your gut is not just for your body and physical health - eating well is just as important for your brain and mental health.

Healthy mixed fruit mug cake with fruit and yoghurt in a bowl

How To Improve Gut Health 

Balancing your gut health and mental health can therefore be very similar. Tailoring your diet towards foods that improve gut health and maintain healthy digestion - such as probiotics and high fibre foods will ultimately have a positive impact on your health. Fermented foods such as kimchi will help balance the good bacteria in your microbiome, leading to better gut health. 

Gut Healthy Recipe Ideas

Chicken and kimchi Lo-Dough wrap on a circular wooden board

Chicken and kimchi wrap

Full of fibre, protein and the nifty fermented ingredient, Kimchi, this wrap is FULL of the good stuff. It tastes bright and zingy too, sure to pick you up and elevate your spirits. This one has got ‘gut-brain connection’ written all over it! 

Blueberry pancakes stack on a white plate with a bowl of blueberries on a wooden table

Blueberry Pancakes

The gut health impact on mental health can’t be understated. So start your day as you mean to go on by getting in a fruit packed, high fibre breakfast that can  be dressed with gut healthy live yoghurt too. 

Low calorie vegetarian Lo-Dough burrito

Mixed Bean Vegetarian Burritos

Don’t forget to sit down with your friends and loved ones. Studies show that eating communally can have a huge effect on your mental health. If what you are eating happens to be healthy and packed with gut healthy fibre, veg and protein, all the better. 

Harissa broccoli salad on a great plate on a blue patterned table runner

Harissa Broccoli Salad

Eat your greens. We all love cheesy pizza, and sumptuous sweets, but this can’t be stated enough - in all diets there needs to be balance. This high fibre, vitamin-packed side is not only good for you, it’s delicious to boot. Use live yoghurt as a gut healthy addition to this one

Slices of gluten free banana bread on crumpled white paper

Gluten Free Banana Bread

This simple but effective sweet treat is the perfect pick me up to raise your spirits and re-energise you between meals. Low-cal, sure, but this is certain to put a smile on your face too.