Serotonin is best known as our feel good chemical. It is also a key regulator in gastrointestinal motility. When you hear the word serotonin you automatically think of the brain, however 90% of the bodies serotonin levels are actually made in our gut. Gut microbes affect neural development, if you have bad gut health you could be at risk of developing anxiety and depression.
The interest in gut health has never been stronger than it is today, extensive research is being undertaken in relation to the close link of behavioural issues, mood and bacteria issues. Bad gut enviroment is caused by poor diet, prescription medication, alcohol and recreational drugs. Scientific studies have shown that many people who suffer from IBS and the associated symptoms such as cramping, bloating, diarrhea, gas and constipation also suffer from depression and anxiety.
Our brain is connected to our gut via our vagus nerve and our enteric nervous system. The vagus nerve has also been dubbed the “wandering nerve” because it has multiple branches that originate from two thick stems rooted in the cerebellum and brainstem that travel to the lowest viscera of our abdomen and connecting to our major organs along the way. Our enteric system connects with our nervous system. It influences the activity of smooth muscles in our guts wall and secretions such as mucas, digestive enzymes and stomach acids. Animal studies have shown that gut microbes activate the vagus nerve which plays a critical role in mediating effects on the brain and behaviour.
In my previous articles I have discussed in detail how we can restore our gut flora however the key factors are diet with strong focus on fermented foods, a good probiotic and eliminating or decreasing alcohol and prescription medication.