Our gut microbiome, the collection of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that reside inside us, can impact our health in a number of ways. But did you know that improving our gut health may offer new ways to improve mental health?
While there are many options to help boost mental health, including therapy, exercise, meditation, and medications, some people still don’t feel major improvements in their mental health after trying these methods. Scientists note that a healthy gut can positively impact both physical health AND mental health, due to the gut-brain axis’ impact on brain function. On the other hand, gut microbiome disturbances have been linked to major depressive disorder.
So how can you improve your gut health (and, in turn, potentially improve your mental health?)
- Try probiotics. Probiotic supplements contain bacterial strains known to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Although still in early stages, research suggests probiotics can help keep your gut healthy while also reducing the phenotypes of depression or anxiety.
- Add lots of plants to your diet. It’s well-established that leafy greens, foods high in fiber and fermented foods benefit gut health. And keeping up with your water intake helps keep everything balanced.
- Don’t forget light exercise. Exercise, such as going for a walk, stretching, playing an instrument or moving around the house while doing chores, can all help reduce inflammation and improve metabolic health.