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Gut Check For Mental Health

Posted at 8:08 AM, Apr 06, 2023

We all get down from time to time -- from mood swings to full-on depression -- and sometimes it happens so randomly that it's mystifying. There can be a lot of reasons, but new research shows your microbiome, or gut bacteria, could play a critical part. Neurologist and Ayurvedic Medicine Expert Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary tells us how our gut health can influence our brain wellness and mental balance.

The gut/brain connection

Dr. Chaudhary says that researchers began finding that a majority of neurotransmitters — the messengers that tell our body how to function and affect our thoughts and feelings — were actually coming from our gut. Meaning the font of emotions that guide us are in your torso, not your brain — which is why our microbiome has such a profound effect on our bodies and our overall wellbeing. Now that we know the importance of our microbiome, it's time to prep ourselves for the probiotics that will help our gut.

Priming our gut

Dr. Chaudhary says a good first step is preparing your gut so that the probiotics can actually flourish. Her two-step process for this begins with what she calls making "prime tea.” This is made from about a half teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, and fennel, boiled in about 4 to 5 cups of water. Start drinking that tea daily; she also suggests a natural daily supplement called triphala -- an antioxidant that helps with digestion. Once you start with those steps, when you incorporate a probiotic, it can really do its job. For maintaining a healthy gut, Dr. Chaudhary likes soil-based spore-probiotics. These are naturally found in the earth, and they’re the ones we're typically most deficient in. You can find them online for about $20 for a month's supply.

We'll wrap with simple ways to maintain your microbiome.

It all starts with your morning routine. As soon as you wake up, say five things you're grateful for. It gets you into a certain state of mind that impacts your entire body, particularly your gut, in a positive way. Eating leafy green veggies and proteins high in tryptophan is important, but she says the most important brain food isn't a food at all — it’s thoughts that are the most important food that we feed our brain on a daily basis. In order to maintain a happy gut, a positive mental attitude, physical movement and relaxation are a must. Think about actively reducing your stress on a daily basis, whether it’s using meditation, yoga, or just going for a walk. The brain and the gut work as one, so if you keep your mind in a good place, your gut will follow.