Understanding the Mind-Gut Connection – How Your Gut Health Affects Your Men

Understanding the Mind-Gut Connection – How Your Gut Health Affects Your Men

The gut microbiome consists of trillions of bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and viruses living inside of your digestive tract that work to break down food, digest nutrients and carry out other critical body functions.

Studies show that communication between the brain and gut is vital; should this system break down, serious health complications may result.

1. Depression

Men who suffer from depression often don’t seek help because they believe the symptoms are insubstantial or are “weak.” In addition, American culture suggests emotional expression is generally reserved for female traits; therefore men experiencing depression may fail to recognize its signs.

Researchers have recently discovered that nerve cells and neurotransmitters located within your gut are connected with your brain via the enteric nervous system (ENS), often referred to as the second brain. This connection impacts digestion, mood and thinking processes – potentially changing everything from digestion and mood swings to overall brainpower.

The ENS also communicates with your gut bacteria through signals sent down the vagus nerve “information highway” and through metabolites produced by bacteria, which affect how your intestines function and can trigger symptoms like pain and bloating.

2. Anxiety

Men can suffer anxiety due to work and family commitments, financial worries and experiences such as bereavement or relationship break-up. Sometimes underlying health problems or childhood trauma also play a part.

Anxiety can be difficult to treat and may lead to depression, substance use and various physical issues. To properly address anxiety it’s essential that people recognize it, and do not consider seeking assistance from mental health professionals such as medication, psychotherapy or lifestyle changes as weakness.

Medical researchers studying symptoms associated with depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, autism spectrum disorder, pain management and digestive conditions like ulcers, constipation or diarrhea as well as microorganisms found in the gut have started examining how the two communicate. This “second brain” approach has revolutionized how doctors think about diseases that impact digestion, mood and mind.

3. Obesity

The digestive tract contains billions of nerve endings and is sometimes known as the second brain, as well as trillions of bacteria that help control both our digestion and mood states. The connection between gut bacteria and our brains is very significant as it controls both digestive processes as well as our emotional wellbeing.

Public speaking phobia often causes that familiar churning sensation, also known as the “butterflies in your stomach.” Our nervous systems sends signals to our intestines to slow digestion so we can focus on the threat at hand.

This gut-brain axis is intricately connected with our stress response and mental wellbeing, which explains why those suffering from IBS or Crohn’s disease are more prone to depression and anxiety. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and GABA produced in our gut by healthy bacteria can profoundly influence our emotions and moods.

4. Weight Gain

If you have ever “followed your gut” when making decisions or experienced “butterflies in your stomach,” these signals could be coming from an invisible brain inside of your digestive tract called the Enteric Nervous System, or ENS. The ENS contains over 100 million nerve cells tucked between layers of tissue covering your gut from its esophagus to its rectum, providing signals.

Your “gut brain” communicates with the rest of your body through signals sent via vagus nerve, and these in turn impact mental wellbeing.

Researchers have discovered that stress and anxiety may trigger IBS symptoms, leading to lifestyle adjustments including stress-reduction techniques; professional psychiatric support; and diet rich in probiotics, fiber, vitamins to support healthy gut bacteria.

5. Insomnia

Have you ever “gone with your gut” when making decisions, or experienced those uncomfortable stomach butterflies when feeling overwhelmed by stress? Those feelings are likely caused by signals from your gut – in particular the enteric nervous system (ENS). Comprised of 100 million nerve cells lining your digestive tract from mouth to anus, the ENS controls digestion while producing hormones and neurochemicals like dopamine and serotonin as well as natural opioids to keep the body going strong.

Unpleasant symptoms of poor gut health may include indigestion, gas, heartburn, diarrhoea and constipation. Other indicators could include bad breath, skin irritation or changes to poop color or consistency – these issues could all be the result of an imbalance of bacteria or taking too many drugs that hinder healthy gut function.

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