By now a lot of people are starting to realize how important a healthy gut actually is. But not everyone knows how gut health has also been shown to impact our brains, emotions, and overall mental state - an area usually reserved for yoga and meditation.
Yoga’s positive impact on the mind is well documented. I started practicing yoga over 15 years ago to address my depression and anxiety. I showed up to yoga class as a last ditch effort to try to transcend the mental issues that plagued me. Yoga’s physical benefits also included improved circulation, functional strength, and a better overall sense of self; but the aspects I appreciated the most were the increase mental clarity, peace of mind, and an overall sense of calm that improved everything.
On the other hand, the impact of gut health on the mind seems to be far less talked about. It was often thought that depression and anxiety increased issues like IBS, but new research has shown it might be the other way around. There is evidence that irritation in the stomach and gastrointestinal system can send signals back to the brain that trigger mood changes. It all goes back to the nervous system, which communicates throughout our entire body. Think of it like little brains throughout the body talking to our bigger brain in our head. It’s the same way food can trigger warm fuzzy feelings when you eat something fatty. Our guts might just be telling our brains what to feel. In fact, Scientific American published a study in 2015 that confirmed microbes in your gut were linked to mental health.
"Scientists are increasingly convinced that the vast assemblage of microfauna in our intestines may have a major impact on our state of mind." — Scientific American
I have long promoted yoga as a means to help with depression and anxiety. Along with that, I support anything else that could alleviate such issues. So much of what happens in our minds, starts in our bodies. Increased stress, poor diets, less movement, and the frantic nature of everyday life can really put our bodies in a compromised position.
Anything we can do to support our bodies is a step in the right direction. Yoga will help with the physical and mental, but starting with gut health and a solid diet of unrefined foods will give the body an even better starting place, and might just help depression and anxiety in the process.
love all ways always