Until the last few years, it was thought that your mental state (feeling happy and upbeat while not getting burnt-out or having feelings of anxiety or depression) was all in your head. Nuh uh. The secret to mental wellness and that ability to shrug off that guy who cut you off in traffic and not lose your sanity when your kid dumps the entire box of oatmeal on the floor ENDS with your brain. It STARTS with the health and happiness of your microbiome. ‘Microbiome, what is that?’ Your human microbiome is the bacteria, single-celled organisms, fungi, protists and viruses that live on and in your body. What does it mean to have a healthy microbiome that will actually make you happier and more resilient?
Well, let me tell you. First, we need a little time in the classroom. A fun fact that is super important to remember is that there are more microbial cells living in and on our bodies than our own human cells. In fact, we have about 100 trillion microorganisms in our GI tract. Compare that to our 10 trillion human body cells and we are made up of only 10% human cells. Oh, and to make it more interesting, those same microbiota have 9 million genes (microbiome) compared to our 23,000 human genes. So…based on gene count, we are less than 1% human. Crazy, right? That’s why it’s super important that to treat those microbial cells well.
Your gut bacteria are one of the main regulators in the gut-brain axis. In other words, your gut microbiome is one of the main factors in keeping your brain healthy and you feeling happy and upbeat. But how do can we make our gut happy and get those awesome mental wellness benefits while reducing things like stress and feelings of anxiety and depression? Well, I will tell you. Get really specific strains (and I’m not talking just about genus and species here…I’m talking genus, species AND strain number!) into your gut, feed and protect those puppies, and calm your gut down so it can do it’s thang!
Since I said “probiotic” let me give you another mini classroom session. “Probiotic” is a VERY BROAD term. It’s kind of like saying, “mammal.” If we take probiotics to clear out bad crud in our GI tract and are not aware of the genus, species AND strain of probiotic we are taking, it’s kind of like having a forest (your gut) with an overpopulation of deer (bad bacteria) and you are going to solve that problem by introducing a mammal (probiotic) into your forest (gut). How well do you think that will turn out? A whale is a mammal. So are bunnies, elk, squirrels, cats, chipmunks and you get the idea. You need a specific mammal to solve your deer population problem. A wolf. And just to hit this analogy home even more…a wolf and a domestic dog have the genus and species name. It is their specific “strain” if you will, that makes the grey wolf different from cute little Todo sitting on the arm of your couch. Need I say more?
There is so much to keeping our mind and biomes happy! I believe the biggest and first step to achieving a healthy mind and a super awesome sunny outlook on life is to take care of our gut. That means getting really specific support for all those bugs we have living inside of us, because let’s face it, if you have happy bugs you know you’ll be happy!
Stay healthy people!