DID YOU KNOW THAT OVER 90% OF THE BODY’S SUPPLY OF SEROTONIN IS PRODUCED IN THE GUT?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter with many physiological functions, among which is to regulate mood, memory, and learning. When serotonin levels are low, the risk of developing symptoms of depression and anxiety increases. The latest anti-depressants are engineered to increase access to the body’s stores of serotonin, making them an effective intervention for many.
But, what causes low serotonin levels? Conventional medicine identifies genetics as a determining factor. While genetics play a role, more than ever, science points to lifestyle factors that dictate gene expression, as well as the balance of the body’s chemistry. Diet, drug and alcohol consumption, level of physical activity, sleep patterns, sun exposure, exposure to environmental toxins and other stressors, occupation and work-life balance, spiritual beliefs and practices, quality of social connections, and even world views can not only affect physical health, but just as readily affect brain function.
So, what about the gut? The gut, or the digestive system, is a gateway between your environment and your body’s internal workings, and is a major player in your overall health. The gut affects not only your ability to process nutrients, but affects your immune and nervous systems, as well as helps to regulate hormones, and the brain’s supply and balance of neurotransmitters that affect mood.
If your gut is unhealthy, all body systems are compromised. It stands to reason that poor lifestyle choices have a direct impact on gut health, and subsequently on mood. One example of this is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which until recently was thought to be caused by psychological stress, with no known physiological basis or treatment. People who have suffered from IBS symptoms for years without answers are now learning that they can feel better by making simple changes, such as to their diet, and are experiencing concurrent improvements in mood.
While studying the science behind the lifestyle and mental health connection, I have been pleased to share this information with my clients, and have witnessed impressive results. I continue to provide established psychotherapeutic interventions to address your mental health concerns, and now offer lifestyle analysis and coaching to effect a more favorable therapy outcome. Let’s talk about how you can begin to take small, direct steps in your daily routine to improve your mental health!