Your gut flora controls many things. From your skin to allergies, and bowel movements, your entire body seems to depend on your gut and its health. New research is showing that gut flora not only helps physical issues, but also mental issues. Can gut flora really have an impact on your mental health? Many think so, and the findings could help change the way that doctors treat mental illness.

Doctors in the 1800s and early 1900s believed that the colon and its function controlled the entire body. They may have been right. Colonic purges (I don’t want to imagine a colonic in the 1800s!) were used to help rid people of their ailments, including mental health issues. While this may or may not have worked, scientists today are looking at the gut as the link between body and mental health. What is our bad gut flora contributes to our anxiety or depression? Some believe it to be real, and even those with mental health issues believe it to be true – to an extend. Personally, I have a panic issue after eating sugar. I don’t have blood sugar issues, so I just avoid sugar not for the most part. Others have the same issue. We know that sugar feeds bad bacteria, which overrides good flora, which causes issues. So it seems like for some, this theory is true.

The neurotransmitters in the gut transfer signals to the brain. If the gut is healthy and all if well, these signals will be positive. If the healthy gut flora is in trouble, mixed signals will be sent bad, possibly triggering psychological issues. In Swedish studies done with mice, those who were introduced to bad bacteria has personality changes. While mice are mice and humans are humans, past studies have shown us that we are not all that different. If this happens to mice, what can happen to us?

So what can we do to avoid this? Well, scientists have the belief than many mental health issues are genetic, so there may be no clear cut way to totally cure your ailment. However, there are ways that you can limit issues. The simplest is by avoiding foods that inhibit bad bacteria growth in your gut. Sugar and caffeine are two of the worst offenders, as are complex carbs and heavily processed foods. Our guts were not created to properly process these processed foods, so it can lead to trouble. Another thing that you can do if you think that your diet and mental health are related: Talk to your doctor.