Studies into the human brain and body have long considered the special connection between the gut, and the human mind. People experience this connection in the form of nervous stomach pains, or feelings of sickness when they’re scared.
The brain-gut connection isn’t just a concept that doctors and nutritionists talk about – it’s a very real thing that’s actually at the core of countless studies. As Harvard tells us, a troubled stomach can send messages to your brain that may affect your mood, while tumultuous mind affects the way your gut feels too.
So, what happens when one component of the brain/gut relationship is out of sync?
The Scientific Link Between Your Brain and Belly
Increasingly, scientists agree that human beings have a significant brain-gut connection. The things we experience in our gut impact our mind, body, and soul on a deeper level. We feel this link every time we’re excited, anxious, or even experiencing love.
Science is starting to understand some of the reasons for the gut/brain connection. It seems as though a lot of the experiences come down to hormones from different parts of the brain. The chemicals that your brain releases when you feel a certain way can affect the function and sensitivity of the nerves in the gut too.
Everything connects as part of something called the enteric nervous system.
One example of the research into the gut and brain, is with IBS – a condition that affects around 15% of people in the US. If you’re suffering with IBS, your gut nerves will be more sensitive. The brain processes signals from your gut differently than it does for other people. Just a small change in your gut can trigger significant responses, like pain or bloating.
In the Johns Hopkins Digestive Program study, researchers have also noted how excessive stomach pain and digestive problems also affect mood and wellbeing. Some people with issues of chronic constipation are more likely to have depression, for instance.
Altering Mood with the Gut Microbiome
So, if we know that the gut can affect our mood negatively when there’s a problem, can creating a better gut environment lead to better moods?
Researchers are looking into the effects of the gut microbiota on the mind, body, and soul, and experimenting with substances that might help to balance the microbiome in a more positive way. The gut microbiota is the name for the epithelial cells that line the GI tract. These messengers, bacteria colonies, digestive enzymes, and more create a barrier between us and the outside world.
The molecules in your stomach help to determine the health of your gut, which also links to the health of your brain, and mind.
The bad news is that when the gut microbiota is in turmoil, your emotional state is likely to be problematic too. However, if you can adjust your gut health with the right food, you can also get your mental health back on track too.
The Magic of Mushrooms for Gut Health
Various foods are excellent for improving the health of your gut. Replacing processed and high sugar foods with whole foods and nutritious substances is a great step towards a better quality of life.
Food high in omega-3 fatty acids reduces inflammation and improves digestion, for instance, while high fiber foods help to clean waste out of your gut.
One of the most surprising tools for gut health, however, is the mushroom. Mushrooms are considered to be natural prebiotics, containing fiber and omega acids.
Medicinal and dietary mushrooms could have a direct impact on your mind, body, and soul, by supporting your gut. The best options include:
- Oyster mushroom: Oyster and king oyster mushroom both belong to the Pleurotus genus, and have been proven in scientific study to act as prebiotics, and stimulate the growth of probiotics in the gut.
- Lion’s mane mushroom: These unique mushrooms have an interesting impact on the gut microbiome, improving the gut barrier, and the brain barrier, so fewer bad things can get through.
- Reishi mushroom: Proven to influence the ratio and composition of bacteria, Reishi mushroom reverses gut imbalances which can lead to parasites, diseases, and stress.
- Shiitake mushroom: Both an excellent supporter of the immune system and a great source of nutrients, Shiitake mushrooms help you to fight off unwanted ailments, and protect your gut, mind, body, and soul from issues.
- Chaga mushroom: As a potent antioxidant, Chaga helps to collect free radicals and oxidized molecules that damage DNA and cause excessive inflammation. Extra inflammation in the stomach can cause Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and IBD.
- Turkey tail: Turkey tail mushrooms support Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp. Bacteria in the stomach, improving gut and immune system health.
Transform Your Gut and Transform Your Wellbeing
With the gut microbiota and the nervous system of the gut both playing such a massive impact on the way that we think and feel, the path to better mental health may start with a better diet. Although there are various steps that you can take to improve your gut health with the things that you eat, studies are beginning to indicate that mushrooms could offer a powerful push in the right direction.
By improving the balance of good bacteria in your gut, and getting rid of unwanted toxins, mushrooms can plant the seeds for better wellbeing through the gut.