Balancing your gut health may have more benefits than you think. In addition to getting your digestive issues on track, balancing your gut can actually help contribute to your overall well-being including your physical and mental health. Why? Because the gut is considered the "second brain."
This concept of the second brain is what scientists call the gut-brain axis. The gut-brain axis is a two-way communication street. The brain can send signals to the gut but the gut can also send signals to the brain.
The gut is often one of the most overlooked organs, yet it is one of our most vital. Gut health experts from UC Davis explain, "a healthy gut contains healthy bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious agents like bacteria, viruses and fungi. A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain general health and well-being."
Read this article to learn a few unexpected ways you can balance your gut and why that can help improve your overall well-being.
5 Unexpected Ways to Balance Your Gut
1. Read a book, magazine, or essay
Reading (ideally not on a screen because that can be overstimulating) puts your body into a parasympathetic state. In order to properly digest food, we need to be in this parasympathetic, or “rest and digest,” state. When we aren't relaxed, we're unable to produce the gastric juices that absorb food, and therefore we don't get the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed to support a healthy body and brain.
Your parasympathetic nervous system controls your bodily functions when you're in a restful state. These functions include stimulating digestion, activating metabolism, and helping your mind and body relax. So pick up a good book and get to reading!
2. Reconnect with a loved one or old friend
Balancing your gut involves more than just your digestive health. Everything is interconnected - your mind, body, soul, and spirit. Think about someone that used to make you laugh or bring you joy such as an old friend, co-worker, or family member. Make a plan to reconnect with them to nurture your spirit. You could schedule a Zoom or just pickup the phone.
3. Eat more sushi
Fish that you'll commonly see on a sushi menu, such as salmon and mackerel, contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are loaded with protein, which will stabilize your blood sugar and keep you full. Omega-3s also:
- Fight autoimmune diseases
- Fight inflammation
- Reduce ADHD in children
- Reduce fat in your liver
- Improve joint and bone health
- Improve sleep
- Alleviate menstrual pain
- Keep your skin healthy and prevents premature aging
- Fight depression and anxiety
If sushi isn't your jam, you can also find Omega-3s in other fish like cod, oysters, and sardines.
4. Catch more Zzzzzz
Ensuring that you get enough sleep is paramount to not only your gut health, but your overall health. Not getting enough quality sleep can have negative health impacts, which may also contribute to even more sleep issues-it can be a vicious cycle.
Prioritize your sleep. Try to get at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Set a sleep alarm on your phone to remind you, and then do you best to stay away from screens at least 30 minutes before your bedtime.
5. Supplement with a Digestive Enzyme
Your body is always hard at work making enzymes. Yet, it may not be enough to make up for your dietary indulgences or a weak digestive tract. Supplementing with an all-natural digestive, like Confidence, helps you get the most nutrients out of the food you consume and improve your digestion. They also help to reduce bloating, indigestion, gas, and other digestion-related issues.
How an Unbalanced Gut Impacts Your Well-being
Scientists call the second brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). Experts from John Hopkins explain, "the ENS may trigger big emotional shifts experienced by people coping with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset. For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes."
In this way, your gut is sending signals to your brain, for better or worse. An unbalanced gut can contribute to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Further, experts say, “these new findings may explain why a higher-than-normal percentage of people with IBS and functional bowel problems develop depression and anxiety. That’s important, because up to 30 to 40 percent of the population has functional bowel problems at some point.”
A Balanced Gut Can Stabilize & Improve Your Mood
Certain nutrients from food, like B vitamins, act as natural stress relievers. Eating foods which in B vitamins is a great way to calm stress and anxiety. However, if you have GI problems like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) this can interfere with absorption of B vitamins and other nutrients that reduce stress like magnesium, especially if you have diarrhea. A digestive enzyme supplement can keep your digestive tract healthy and balanced. This leads to better absorption of stress-relieving vitamins and calming minerals.
Get Your Gut Health On Track
When you take steps to balance your gut, or your second brain, you're also helping to boost your overall well-being. That goes to show just how vital this might organ is. Taking a digestive enzyme supplement is an easy-to-implement and effective way of getting your gut health on track.
The Confidence Co's enzymes work immediately, providing an extra boost to break down the food we eat, ensuring optimal absorption of nutrients. However, real progress doesn’t happen overnight. The goal is to improve your digestion and your gut health by supporting a healthy inflammatory response. That's why we recommend you take digestive enzymes with consistency. Begin to feel real gut relief when you get your Confidence here.