Gut feeling: How to hack your brain with better digestion

- June 18, 2024 3 MIN READ


As a business owner, you understand the importance of operating at your best. You invest countless hours in growing your business, managing people, and making critical decisions. However, what if there was an often-overlooked factor silently influencing your cognitive function, energy levels, and overall wellbeing? Enter the gut-brain connection, writes wellness expert Vesna Hrsto.

Recent research has shed light on the profound impact gut health has on mental clarity, focus, and emotional resilience – all crucial elements for peak performance in business.

The digestive system, often referred to as the “second brain,” is home to a complex network of neurons and a vast majority of the body’s serotonin production – our feel-good brain chemistry.

Why gut health is important

When gut health is compromised, it can lead to a cascade of symptoms that hinder your ability to excel:

  1. Cognitive function: Poor gut health can lead to brain fog, decreased mental clarity, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can slow down your decision-making process and hinder your ability to tackle challenges
  2. Emotional well-being: The gut-brain axis plays a significant role in regulating mood and emotional balance. Poor gut health has been linked to anxiety, depression, and mood swings, making it harder to maintain the level-headedness needed to navigate business.
  3. Energy levels: Poor digestion and nutrient absorption can result in chronic fatigue and low energy levels.
  4. Immune function: A significant portion of the immune system resides around the gut. When gut health is compromised, it creates inflammation in the body and can lead to frequent illnesses and reduced overall health. This can mean more days sick or feeling off your game

If you find yourself struggling with unexplained fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, or gut-related issues, leaky gut syndrome may be silently sabotaging your performance and well-being.

Leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is a condition in which the lining of the digestive tract becomes damaged, allowing partially digested food, toxins, and bacteria to “leak” through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream.

This can trigger an immune response and lead to a variety of health issues, including digestive problems, nutrient deficiencies, chronic inflammation, food sensitivities, and autoimmune disorders.

Factors that contribute to leaky gut include chronic stress, poor diet, some medications, and imbalances in gut bacteria.

You may think taking a probiotic is enough, but the biggest impact to gut function happens further upstream before the benefit of probiotics.

You may be wondering, how do I know if I need to support gut function or heal from leaky gut?

Common tell-tale symptoms include bloating, indigestion, reflux, gas or flatulence, abdominal discomfort, constipation or diarrhoea.

Vesna shared her top tips for beating burnout on the Flying Solo podcast, listen now:

To optimise gut health for peak performance, there are four key steps:

  1. Reduce stress hormones: High cortisol levels from chronic stress wreak havoc on gut health. Energy is diverted away from the gut when we’re stressed. To create optimal digestion, eat in a calm environment, away from your desk, eat mindfully, slow down how quickly you eat – this primes the gut for digestion.
  2. Eliminate trigger foods: Remove gut-irritating foods like gluten, sugar, and processed ingredients. Gluten is linked to leaky gut and inflammation. Avoid alcohol and coffee regularly and in excess as it will irritate the gut.
  3. pH balance: Restoring healthy pH levels in the digestive tract is key to nutrient absorption, and reducing the overgrowth of gut bugs that thrive in disrupted pH.  You can add digestive enzymes supplements to support this process and encourage healthy bacteria.
  4. Gut lining repair: Incorporate gut-healing nutrients like glutamine to restore the integrity of the digestive tract lining. This, combined with herbal supplements and probiotics, can help reestablish a robust gut microbiome.

As your business success is linked to your personal wellbeing, optmising gut health is a tool that can be used to increase energy, focus, and resilience, and sustain your success for many years to come.

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