Apologies in advance if you’re one of those people who absolutely hates talking about poo, because that’s all we’re going to talk about for approximately the next three minutes.
Then again, I’m assuming you wouldn’t have clicked on this article if you were one of those people. So I’m free to continue talking about poo in all its glory, right?
Right. Regular pooers unite, because scientists have claimed a successful trip to the toilet for a number two is actually good for your mental health – boosting your mood and leaving you feeling much happier.
New research has revealed feeling ‘bunged-up’ doesn’t just affect our physical well-being, but our mental state too.
A study from the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, Massachusetts, focused on the relationship between chronic diarrhoea and constipation being more common in depressed individuals.
Lead author Sarah Ballou said both chronic constipation and chronic diarrhoea are ‘significantly more prevalent’ in depressed people than those who aren’t depressed, adding: ‘Our findings provide support for the relationship between mood and specific bowel habits.’
Around 90% of our serotonin – the neurotransmitter believed to contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness – is housed in the gut. So when that’s out of kilter, it’s likely our mood is too.
Dr Gill Hart, a leading biochemist and scientific director of food intolerance testing at YorkTest Laboratories, explained:
If you are experiencing irregular bowel activity, you could indeed also encounter low mood and there are studies that back this. The gut is home to hundreds of trillions of microorganisms that form part of the gut-microbiome-brain-axis.
Mood states have been linked with the composition of the microbiome in mentally and physically healthy adults. If your gut is unhappy, it’s likely to affect your overall well-being too, both physically and mentally.
The biochemist said it’s therefore crucial to ensure everything is ‘harmonised’ and that you eat a balanced diet, eliminating foods that are known to cause a reaction.
If things are not working consistently it can affect mood. But when constipation is finally relieved, a person’s mood is elevated as the gut is working more efficiently.
This was also highlighted in a report conducted by microbiologist Jeroen Raes at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, which studied 1,054 people to assess ‘normal’ microbiome.
173 of these had been diagnosed with depression or had scored poorly during the quality-of-life survey, indicating they had a low mood. Researchers found two kinds of microbes – Coprococcus and Dialister – were missing from the microbiomes of the subjects who were depressed, but not the happier subjects.
The results ‘provide population-scale evidence for microbiome links to mental health’, the report concluded.
Steven Horne, former president of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), claims the term ‘full of it’ – often used to describe someone in a foul mood – may be very accurate physically. That’s because someone in a bad mood ‘could actually be constipated’ or ‘at least have serious issues with the health of their intestinal tract’.
Researchers now realise that we have a ‘gut brain’ that produces neurotransmitters, which directly influence our emotional state.
If you think about it, you will readily recognise that constipation has an impact on your mood. When you’re physically ‘full of it’ you feel weighed down. You feel heavy and have less energy. Once you let go of it, you feel lighter and your energy and mood will improve.
Dr Hart backed this up, explaining that the maintenance of healthy intestinal barriers and the composition of the gut microbiota are ‘key to improved health’.
Well, there you have it. Who knew pooing could be so good for you?
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