Gut health, brain fog and fatigue - The link between
When we are talking about gut health we are primarily speaking about 2 aspects of gastrointestinal function : the microbiota and intestinal permeability.
The microbiota is the gut bacteria in the gut, and this is the MOST important element of gut health, as it will dictate how everything else happens within the gut and the body.
When our gut bacteria is disrupted, in that we may see pathogenic bacteria become more dominant while the beneficial bacteria is in smaller amounts than what it should be, this is known as dysbiosis.
Intestinal permeability is what is commonly known as ‘leaky gut’ and this can be key driver many inflammatory and systemic conditions within the body. This internal permeability occurs when dysbiosis occurs and this triggers the cells within the gastrointestinal lining to tear apart, creating gaps and causing the ‘leakiness’ that we refer to in the term ‘leaky gut’.
So what has this got to do with brain fog?…. EVERYTHING!
When this increased permeability of the gut happens this can trigger off a whole range of reactions that are associated with neurodegeneration and inflammation. Both of which can contribute to that feeling of ‘brain fog’.
When we are looking at gut health and cognition we look at the brain-gut axis (GBA), which describes the relationship between the 2 and the impact that one has on the other. When this intestinal permeability and dysbiosis occurs the GBA gets placed under large amounts of stress, which actually makes our stress responses worse. Meaning that we can’t deal with stress as well as what we previously could and we have higher levels of stress hormones floating around our body triggering further inflammation and oxidative stress.
When stress levels are higher this also causes poor cognition and worsening of the ‘brain fog’.
More and more research is being done to show us the pivotal role that gut bacteria has on managing the health and functioning of the GBA. By supporting good gut bacteria we reduce the likelihood of intestinal permeability occurring and therefore we help to stabilise the GBA.
Increasing good gut bacteria has also been shown to improve cognition outcomes for patients, as well as improve memory scores as well.
So what can be done when looking at gut health and brain fog?
We need to look at your body as a whole, and take into account not just your gut health, but also your stress levels, adrenal function and environmental influences such as sleep hygenine, exercise, connection and mindfulness practices.
Knowing what we know about the impact that gut bacteria and intestinal permeability can have on brain function though, its worth investigating the gut health by looking at these factors and identifying what types of bacteria is present in your gut and if there is intestinal permeability present and to what degree. Stool testing can be invaluable for helping uncover what is happening in your gut and give us an indication of levels of intestinal permeability as well.
Keen to know more about your gut health?
Let our Naturopaths help you uncover how your gut health is impacting your mental clarity today!
Book your appointment HERE