How Your Digestive Health Affects Your Brain

Researchers say maintaining a 'healthy gut environment' is linked to improved cognitive function

Have you heard the term “gut health” tossed around lately and wondered, “What exactly does that mean?”

Don’t worry; you’re not the only one. While this is certainly becoming a more talked-about topic, it hasn’t quite garnered the same amount of buzz as say, CrossFit or gluten-free diets — at least not yet.

But, what health experts and doctors are referring to when they talk about “gut health” is the health of your digestive system; basically, your digestive health.

Sure, gut is a shorter word, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better. Regardless of how you refer to it, though, scientists are finding that the condition of the digestive system actually plays a pretty significant role in our overall health.

“Reports mention that as much as 60 to 70 percent of the immune system is based in the gut,” said Dr. Helene M. Savignac Ph.D., an expert in neuropsychology, cognitive and behavioral science and the brain research manager for Clasado Research Services Ltd. “In older people, there is a decline in certain groups of 'good' bacteria (e.g. Bifidobacteria) which correlates with the gradual deterioration of the immune system as we age, a process called Immunosenescence.”

What’s more, says Savignac, is that researchers are also finding a strong link between digestive health and the brain.

“The bacteria that reside in the gut appear to play an important role and are able to communicate with the central nervous system notably through neural, endocrine and immune pathways,” Savignac said. “By influencing the balance and types of bacteria present, studies show that it may be possible to lower stress, affect cognition/brain processes and mood.”

So, maintaining a healthy gut can help improve both your mind and body, how exactly can you make sure your digestive health is up to par?

The infographic below, created by researchers at Clasado and Bimuno, explains everything you need to know about how your digestive health affects your brain and, of course, how to maintain a healthy a gut environment. (Click to enlarge.)

Courtesy of Bimuno

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