These days, we’re working more, sleeping less, and it feels like we’re always “on.” Between the dog days of summer and the fast-approaching holidays, it might seem like there’s no end in sight. So, it’s normal to feel a little rundown as the days get shorter and we gear up for winter, right? We often point the finger at seasonal stresses and obligations as the source of physical and mental fatigue. But there’s one thing that’s easy to overlook: gut health.
Understanding the gut-brain connection
Now, when we say “gut,” we’re not talking about that little bit of tummy you suck in for family photos. We’re talking about your entire digestive system.
For years, health professionals thought the digestive process was relatively straightforward. We eat, we absorb nutrients, and we pass unused material as waste. In recent years, however, research has found that the gut contributes far more to whole body wellness than previously believed. Some are even calling it the “second brain.”
Your gut and brain are connected, both physically and biochemically, in a few different ways. Those connections include the vagus nerve, which sends signals bilaterally—or in both directions. That means, not only is your brain communicating with your gut, but your gut is talking back. And what it has to say could impact your mood, health, and even the way you handle stressful situations. This discovery lends a whole new meaning to the phrase “trusting your gut.”
The gut microbiome
Your gut and brain also communicate through chemicals called neurotransmitters. As the body’s chemical messengers, neurotransmitters like adrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins directly impact our moods and behaviors. For instance, scientists have found that many people struggling with depression have low serotonin levels, and those struggling with motivation may lack dopamine balance.
Your gut cells (and the trillions of microbes living there) produce many of these neurotransmitters. In fact, your gut is responsible for most of your body’s feel-good hormone, serotonin. The connection between digestion, mood, health, and the way you think is more intricate than we ever could have expected. Scientists are even finding evidence that the gut’s microbiome plays a role in age-related and mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, autism, and other conditions.
A gut-brain expert can help you
With these new scientific discoveries come new opportunities to optimize our health. Here at Swell, we’re proud to offer our members access to a gut-brain expert, both in group workshops and one-on-one consultations. Working with a gut-brain expert is beneficial because it can help you:
Understand your gut health
Frequently dealing with embarrassing stomach disturbances? Having trouble sleeping at night? Trying to manage anxiety, depression, or having trouble getting motivated? Feel like you’re always on the verge of getting sick? It could be poor gut health. A gut-brain expert can help assess your lifestyle and diet to determine your risk factors.
Restore your microbiome
From taking a daily probiotic to reducing stress with weekly yoga classes, there are plenty of ways to promote a healthy gut microbiome. Working with an expert will help you determine the best recommendations for your lifestyle and needs.
Build healthy habits
Unfortunately, gut health isn’t “set it and forget it.” Instead, it’s a constant process that requires lifestyle shifts and building healthy habits. A gut-brain expert can help you set and stick to your goals, so you don’t land back at square one.
If “just OK” has become your new normal…
Maybe it’s time to trust your gut with our resident Gut-Brain Expert, Tracy Thomas. Stay tuned for future seminars!