Your body operates like a finely tuned orchestra, with every instrument playing a crucial role in maintaining harmony. Amidst this symphony, there’s a dynamic duo that often goes unnoticed – your gut and your brain. Linked by the intricate gut-brain axis, this powerful connection not only shapes your physical well-being but also has a profound impact on your mental health.

Understanding how the gut-brain axis works can help you maintain or improve cognitive function and mood, so here’s what you need to know.

What is the gut-brain axis?

The gut-brain axis describes the connection and communication between the enteric nervous system and the central nervous system and how they link peripheral intestinal functions to cognitive and emotional centers in the brain. That’s a lot of fancy words to say that it is how your gut and brain communicate to influence system-wide functions.

Do you get butterflies in your stomach when you get nervous? That’s an example of the gut-brain axis. Another is when you feel sluggish and get brain fog after eating certain foods, or how poor gut health can make you anxious and depressed.

What are the neurological benefits of good gut health?

Good gut health can help regulate irritable bowel syndrome and help resolve diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset, and bloating. It can also help improve cognitive function, increase focus, decrease anxiety and depression, and boost your memory. Eating gut-friendly foods can improve your mood and even make you more productive at work.

Most of all, if your brain is functioning as it should, the rest of your body will work much better. Great health starts with a healthy brain.

How does holiday stress upset the gut-brain balance?

Stress is hard on the body. It affects your mood and how your body functions. If you don’t have good gut health, the effects are felt even more. That is why a person who is under stress may have headaches, feel nauseous, experience sleep issues, and struggle with brain fog.

If they had these symptoms before being under stress, those symptoms become exacerbated. The gut helps to keep the body in check so that it functions as it should. When the gut is out of balance, it throws everything off and you see a rise in these symptoms.

But typical stress that comes with the hustle and bustle of the holiday, financial concerns, and planning family get-togethers and parties are not the only sources of stress during this time. Most people indulge in foods that are richer, have more sugar, and may include alcohol. The holiday diet is generally not conducive to maintaining a healthy gut.

This adds stress on the body as well and you feel the effects both physically and psychologically.

Tips for maintaining a healthy gut

It’s fine if you want to indulge a little in holiday fare, but remember that moderation is key. Here are some tips for maintaining gut health all year round.

  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats (including fatty fish)
  • Get enough fiber every day
  • Get good quantity and good quality sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid highly processed foods
  • Avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup
  • Try to avoid overindulging in rich, holiday foods
  • Include plenty of gut-friendly foods in your diet:
    • Asparagus
    • Tempeh
    • Sauerkraut
    • Beans and legumes
    • Bananas
    • Leafy green vegetables
    • Apple cider vinegar

If you have health issues that come from poor gut health, neurofeedback may help. Some studies show it is effective for eliminating or reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome as well as those struggling with autonomic nervous system imbalances. By addressing the gut health issue and the neurological issue simultaneously, it provides a whole-body treatment that brings the system back into balance.

If you are struggling with any issues regarding the gut, cognition, emotion, or psychology, neurofeedback may help. Call Sandstone Center for Neurofeedback today to schedule a consultation and start your journey to better gut-brain health.

Call us at 281-872-6461 or get started with a neurofeedback consultation and Brain Map by requesting an appointment online.

*Sandstone Center for Neurofeedback does not diagnose medical conditions. Sandstone Center for Neurofeedback is a nonmedical, medication-free program for children and adults who struggle with symptoms related to mental health.