More and more often now we are hearing about the importance of having a strong immune system and overall health in general. Media has become hooked on buzz words and fad diets that promise you the world if only you follow these simple steps. It’s the same stuff spewed to us time and time again - New fads but the same general idea.
New research has started coming out that gives us hope, and perhaps a new promise. I’m talking about the promise of true, lasting, impactful health that you actually have control over. At this point, you may be wondering why a mental health professional is writing to you about physical health in the first place. Well, this research I am talking about has a direct impact on our mental health. The human body is a complex machine; every organ and cell working and being impacted by all other organisms in the body. This is why the concepts of Holistic Wellness and Healing are so important – they take into consideration the entire body and how the inner workings of the body are interacting with one another.
In this post, I want to focus on a crucial aspect of our mental health that hadn’t been considered until recent years – Our gut health. Without getting all sciencey, I am specifically talking about the bacteria living inside our intestines. This bacteria includes both helpful and unhelpful bacteria which ebb and flow depending on what we eat. New research has been coming out which has found correlations between the diversity of helpful/good bacteria in our intestines and our mental health. This may seem like a foreign concept, but it actually makes a lot of sense when we realize that the neurotransmitters (such as Serotonin and GABA) that impact our moods are created in our large intestines. If you want to learn more on this topic, check out this video.
One example of the powerful relationship between the gut and the brain comes from an article found in World Psychiatry in February of 2020. This article wrote about a recent study which found therapeutic potential in certain strains of probiotics (A.K.A. good bacteria) in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder. In this study, the individuals who were given these particular strains of probiotics saw significant decreases in severe manic episodes as compared to individuals which received a placebo.
If you get anything from this post, let it be this – The food you put into your bodies has a direct impact on your overall well-being, including your mental health. Over the next few months, I will be going through an extensive training to learn more about this topic so I can better help you and my clients work towards their mental health goals in the most holistic way possible. I am excited to embark on deeper learning so I can bring this knowledge and understanding into my counseling practice. For any and all clients who would like to work towards holistic health and are interested in how their diet and lifestyle may be impacting their mental health, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would be happy to answer questions and to simply start the conversation.