The Gut-Brain Axis: The Connection between Digestive Health and Mental Health-the-gut-brain-axis-the-connection-between-digestive-health-and-mental-health-Clara Benacerraf
WRITTEN BY
Clara Benacerraf
04 October, 2022

The Gut-Brain Axis: The Connection between Digestive Health and Mental Health

The Gut-Brain Axis: The Connection between Digestive Health and Mental Health-the-gut-brain-axis-the-connection-between-digestive-health-and-mental-health-Angel October189
The Gut-Brain Axis: The Connection between Digestive Health and Mental Health The brain is a complex organ, responsible for controlling and managing all the processes that take place in our body. But the truth is that other systems are also very important for the maintenance of this system and have the potential to influence its activity. Also known as the "second brain", our gut actively participates in our physical and mental health. With its 200 million neurons and billions of intestinal bacteria, our gut constantly dialogues with our brain, and vice versa.

Children's emotional health and wellbeing is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health gives children every chance of growing into balanced, healthy adults with the adaptive skills needed to cope with everyday life.

Children's mental health and wellbeing can be disrupted, and this can manifest as low mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, relationship difficulties with friends and family, signs of stress and high levels of anxiety. These manifestations can affect children’s ability to develop and thrive in their daily life.

 

Possible links between children's physical and mental health

Have you felt “butterflies in your stomach” when you are anxious? Well, you are likely getting signals from an unexpected source: your second brain — the brain in your gut. Scientific researchers from Columbia University found that there may be a link between children's digestive health and their mental health. This unique connection is known as the “gut-brain axis”. Recent studies at John Hopkins University have brought a new understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.

There is scientific evidence that the intestinal microbiota sends signals to the brain, via the enteric nervous system, which can affect our mood, or induce stress. In addition, it has been demonstrated that 95% of the serotonin present in our body is emitted by the intestine and transmitted to the brain. This neurotransmitter is also known as the "feel-good hormone", since it impacts and regulates our mood, our emotions, and our level of stress.

This example of serotonin shows us that the different substances produced by the intestinal microbiota can guide our emotional reactions.

It is also interesting to note that the gut-brain exchanges, in the event of stress, go in both directions: the intestine sends signals which induce stress, the brain integrates the information and produces the physiological reaction: it returns the message to the intestine, causing a slowing of transit, which can lead to intestinal discomfort.

 

How can you support your children’s mental health and wellbeing?

  • Feelings such as sadness, anger, nervousness, fear, and joy can be felt in the gut. Have regular conversations with your child about feelings and emotions, and how to deal with them.
  • If a child seems to be struggling, guided meditations and yoga practices are a wonderful way to help children calm their minds and bodies.
  • Take an interest in what your child enjoys doing, whether in sports or other hobbies. Physical activity will have a positive impact on your child's digestive system as well as on their mood.
  • Ensure that your child is eating balanced meals with adequate nutrients to support their digestive health and wellness.

If you are concerned about a persistent change in your child's behaviour, consult with the school counsellor, and don't hesitate to talk to a doctor as well.