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Your Healthy Family: Connection between gut health & mental health

Posted at 8:37 AM, Sep 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-12 08:37:40-04

New research shows our gut health and our mental health go hand in hand.

"The brain and the gut are actually one functional unit. And the functional part is that these bacteria produce exactly what we need in order to think and feel a certain way," Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, a Neurologist and Ayurveda Expert, said.

She explains how some groundbreaking research can help improve our mental health, and said it starts with understanding the gut-brain connection.

"What we started to find out was a majority of our neurotransmitters were actually coming from our gut," she said.

Neurotransmitters are the messengers that tell our body how to function, and also affect our thoughts and feelings.

"This is huge because the factory that determines the way that we think and feel is not located up here {in our brains}, it's actually located down here {in our gut}," Dr. Chaudhary said.

The research also showed why our microbiome has such a profound effect on our bodies.

"They actually make up more of us than our own cells do — so we have more microbial DNA than we do human DNA," she said.

She said it's important to prime our bodies for the probiotics that will help our gut.

"A good first step is preparing your gut for the probiotics to actually flourish," she said.

Dr. Chaudhary has a two step process for this. She says first, make what she calls "prime tea."

"Made out of cumin, coriander, and fennel. Just about half a teaspoon of them each. Boil them in about 4 to 5 cups of water, and start drinking that tea on a daily basis," she said.

She also suggests a natural daily supplement called triphala — an antioxidant that helps with digestion. It's low cost and available everywhere.

"Just made out of three berries, so we're using food as medicine. When you start with those steps, when you incorporate a probiotic, they're going to flourish," she said.

Dr. Chaudhary said she likes maintaining a healthy gut with soil-based spore-probiotics. These are bacteria naturally found in earth.

"Those are the ones that we're typically most deficient in, and the spore-biotics are more resilient," she said.

You can find them online for about 20 dollars for a month's supply.

She said you can maintain your microbiome with a morning routine.

"So as soon as you wake up, just simply 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," she said.

Eating leafy green veggies and proteins high in tryptophan are important, but she said the most important brain food isn't a food at all.

"Thoughts are the most important food that we feed our brain on a daily basis," she said.

To maintain a healthy gut, she said a positive mental attitude, physical movement, and relaxation are a must.

"Like meditation, like yoga or even just going for a walk, actively choosing to reduce stress on a daily basis. This is really important, if not more so, than the foods that you eat," Dr. Chaudhary said.