From Brain Fog to Brilliance: How Your Gut Controls Your Mind

That feeling, we've all had it - right down in the gut!

And it can tell us more than we think.


CSIRO found that 50% of Australians experience gut health issues, leading to mental & physical symptoms like brain fog, bloating, fatigue, irritability, as well as more serious health issues.

And it is in this condition that those ‘pings’, emails, gossips, or other distractions can just push you off the cliff of irritation.

Recent discoveries have unveiled a remarkable connection between our gut and our productivity, decision-making capabilities, and even our emotional processing.

In this article, we'll get into the guts of this subject - the world of gut health, and explore how the tiny inhabitants of our microbiome hold the key to unleashing our full potential. Get ready for a gut check that may just change the way you approach work and collaboration.

The Gut Microbiome - Your Internal Ecosystem

It's complicated but let's keep this simple.

Your gut consists of three main parts: the gastrointestinal (G.I) tract, the gut microbiome, and your brain. 

Your G.I. tract is a complex system of organs, making up the machine responsible for breaking down food and retrieving nutrients. It contains the majority of your immune system, as well as around 500 million neurons (your brain contains approx.100 billion), and even has it's own nervous system!

The gut microbiome, is the community of trillions of bacteria that live in your lower intestines, acquired from environment and food,  and which support digestion, immune function, and various aspects of health.

Your gut is closely connected to the brain through the gut-brain axis, where the gut communicates with the brain via the Vagus Nerve by sending chemical messages called neurotransmitters.

You read that correctly.

Your gut bacteria and your brain communicate. That is, those brainless bacteria in your gut can influence your mood, behaviour, and more, depending on their needs and happiness levels.

When the Balance is Off

Imbalances in this system are known as gut dysbiosis. This often happens during periods of stress (emotional or other), as well as diets high in fat and sugar. This disruption has been linked to cravings, mood-swings, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and difficulty processing emotions, as well as more serious health issues including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. 

Why is this happening?

You either are promoting the growth of the wrong bacteria, and/or the bacteria you do want there are HUNGRY!

During periods of stress or on diets high in refined sugars and fats, your beneficial gut microbiome community members are starved. Their preferred food is non-soluble fibre.

Highly refined/processed foods contain little to none of this, so gut microbiome members get starved and die off, while other undesirable members are free to release neurotransmitters (chemical signals) to give you different cravings, irritability, and other symptoms. 

'Mwa ha ha' - laugh the bacteria...


Energy Levels

The gut microbiome can influence an individual's energy levels through nutrient extraction, production of energy-rich compounds, modulation of metabolism, and regulation of inflammation.

It also produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) through the fermentation of dietary fibers. SCFAs serve as an important energy source for the cells lining the gut and can also be absorbed into the bloodstream to provide energy for other tissues and organs.

An imbalance can disrupt these processes, leaving you perpetually fatigued and lacking energy and zest for life.


Cravings & Brain Fog

Cupcakes, cookies, and a bag of greasy chips, oh my!

An imbalanced gut microbiome, with an overgrowth of certain bacteria species that thrive on processed foods, can create a cycle of craving and consumption.

These less-desirable members of your gut community tend to enjoy the simple carbohydrates found in highly processed foods. As they multiply and digest the carbs, they produce by-products that send signals to the brain, activating its reward centres, and increasing cravings for those types of foods, while also causing brain fog.


Mood Fluctuations

These clever microorganisms produce neurotransmitters closely linked to your emotional well-being, such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. When your microbiome is imbalanced, it can disrupt the production of these neurotransmitters, leading to irritability, anxiety, and even depression.

These mood fluctuations can disrupt effective collaboration in teams, as emotional well-being plays a crucial role in maintaining harmonious work dynamics. It may just make you take that snap at your colleague or team member, or be impatient with the person making your coffee, or speaking loudly on the phone next to you.



Wait, don't panic.

But before you start worrying about these brainless bacteria controlling your life, here's the good news: the communication between your gut and brain works both ways.

You have the ability to influence your microbiome through the chemical signals sent from your brain to your gut. For example, prolonged stress creates an environment in your gut that causes beneficial bacteria to perish while undesirable bacteria thrive, leading to bloating and other uncomfortable symptoms. You can also influence your gut bacteria through what you eat and drink.

The Solution 

Keep your beneficial bacteria microbiome members happy and fed!

Load up on diverse, fiber-rich foods like seasonal vegetables, legumes, fruits (including the skin and core), and some grains/seeds. These are all 'pre'-biotics (foods rich in fibre that our bodies can't digest and which end up in the lower intestines for our friendly bacteria to eat).

If you find these difficult to digest, crave ultra-processed foods, or have recently had antibiotics, you could try having some 'pro'biotic-rich fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, pickles, yoghurt, etc., to get more beneficial bacteria members into your gut microbiome community.

Maintaining a calm state, genuinely being tension-free, can create an ideal environment for your gut. You can also manage stress levels through regular exercise, and prioritise quality sleep to encourage a thriving gut-brain axis, which in turn will work in your favour.

Working Together 

Like it, or not, your gut microbiome holds a power over you, which should not be underestimated, greatly influencing your emotions, decision-making, and interaction with other people. Recognizing and nurturing this invisible community within you, you can unlock your true potential and achieve optimal outcomes in both your personal and professional life. 

Listen to your body's signals and be mindful of how certain foods affect your mood and energy levels. Prioritize self-care practices that promote a healthy gut-brain axis, such as stress management, exercise, and quality sleep. Trust your gut and unlock a whole new level of success in your personal and professional endeavors.

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