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A new survey has found that three in five Americans do not know that their gut directly impacts their overall mental health. The survey from OnePoll was a collaborative effort with Hope Foods to determine the importance of gut health.

The poll found that people between 18 and 44 are less likely to know about the connection between their gut and mental health than those 45 years old or older. Out of the 2,000 adults that were polled, nearly 40 percent were unaware of the mental health connection to their gut. Three in five respondents said while they were familiar with the term “gut-brain axis,” they were not confident in understanding what it meant. Instead of understanding the vital role a healthy gut plays in mental health, many blamed other reasons for their mental health struggles.

  • 42 percent of respondents blamed life situations, especially when things get stressful.
  • 42 percent blamed their mental health struggles on poor sleeping habits.

Less than 40 percent of the respondents said they used nutrition and vitamins specifically for their gut health, while an even smaller percentage admitted to not even thinking about their gut health.

Researchers at Harvard have conducted numerous studies that show how closely connected the two are. Did you know that just thinking of food can release juice’s in your stomach before the food even gets there? In studies, the researchers noted that the effect goes both ways, so when your intestine or gut is ‘troubled’, it can send signals to your brain.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”  -Virginia Woolf

It is believed that the cause of a person’s stress, anxiety or even depression is from a distressed gut. Switching to healthier eating habits will likely have a positive impact on your mental health that you will notice likely immediately. In the survey from One poll, 72 percent of the respondents said they felt better overall when they ate healthier food.

Try staying away from processed foods and junk food that is loaded with sugar. Many of the processed junk we put into our bodies are extremely addictive and stimulate the dopamine centers in the brain. These are unhealthy habits because your body believes those unhealthy foods are now associated with pleasure which makes you crave them even more. Sugar can cause you to experience mood swings as well as an increased risk of anxiety and depression due to the inflammation it creates across your body.

Health professionals recommend incorporating some of the following foods into your diet to improve your mental health.

  • Carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes.
  • Fatty acids such as salmon, eggs, and nuts.
  • Lean proteins that provide energy like chicken, soybeans, flaxseeds, and fish.

 So stop going to your fridge for a late-night snack and instead focus on getting a good night’s rest.  

There is no better time like now to educate yourself and your loved ones on the power of a good diet and healthy habits. After all, you may be saving your life or someone’s life close to you by supporting positive change.

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