July 5, 2023

Good gut, all good.

How the gut microbiome affects our psyche

Good gut, all good.

Yet again ...

Hardly anything good in the news every day. There are many uncertainties. One crisis seems to chase the next, and thanks to our intensive digital networking, we take part everywhere (at least virtually). That can really get to us.

Our psychological well-being is influenced by many factors:
Genetic predisposition, our social life, cultural and economic factors play a role. But, of course, changes within society or in our personal lives also influence how we are doing. And, our individual way of life as well as our (possibly excessive) demands on ourselves also have an effect on our mood and emotional world (1).

Conflicts and stress are part of our lives and cannot be completely avoided

What matters is how to deal with challenging situations and how to regain mental balance as quickly as possible. It is always advisable to seek professional help. But you can also work on your own resilience in everyday life.
For example, through...
• analysis of what has been experienced, development of new strategies, strengthening of one's own self-efficacy (What did I still do well? What did I learn from it? Where and how can I improve?)
• sharing worries, problems, fears ... according to the motto "a problem shared is a problem halved" (Who is there for me when I need support? Who can I talk to?)
• more mindfulness for yourself (Am I as attentive to myself as I am to others? Do I allow myself enough sleep, exercise, healthy nutrition, time just for myself? Where and how do I get strength?)
• boundary and relativization (Do I have any influence on the situation at all? What can I do or how can I better demarcate myself? How important is this event for my future?)
• etc (2).

AND attention should also be paid to the gut microbiome ...

Our gut microbiome also affects our psyche!

There is a direct connection (vagus nerve) and constant communication between the gut and the brain via the gut-brain axis.
It's no coincidence that when we're stressed or anxious, we get stomach pains, nausea, or diarrhea. The “butterflies in the stomach” feel completely different when we are in love. And just the thought of good food makes our mouths water and our digestive tract begins to produce digestive juices.

Conversely, the gut reports to the brain when we are full. And much more. The enteric nervous system, our intestinal nervous system with more than 100 million nerve cells, functions autonomously and sends information to the brain regarding,
• intestinal motility
• nutrient composition, secretion and absorption
• blood flow
• immune system and inflammatory parameters
• composition and activity of the gut microbiome (3).

Microbiome-gut-brain axis

Increasingly people are no longer just talking about the gut-brain axis, but about the "microbiome-gut-brain axis" to point out the importance of the gut microbiome.

The intestinal microbiome and the brain communicate reciprocally via a complex system of central, vegetative and enteric nervous systems: metabolites of the gut bacteria, hormones or neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin, dopamine) can reach the brain via the bloodstream after passing through the intestinal epithelium. As already mentioned, the gut microbiome can also communicate directly with the brain via the vagus nerve or lead to the release of cytokines by stimulating immune cells in the gut. These in turn are able to modulate various processes in the brain and thus influence our mood and behavior. The gut is therefore often referred to as the "second brain", which does not seem so far-fetched when you consider the comparable complexity and its far-reaching functions (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).


Serotonin, a neurotransmitter often referred to as the "happiness hormone", plays a major role in our well-being. Almost 90% produced in the gut, it is responsible for gastrointestinal secretion and intestinal motility in the intestine. In the brain, it is important for mood and perception and as a precursor to melatonin, it is relevant for our sleep. In addition, it affects our perception of pain, our appetite and influences the neuroplasticity of the brain (learning, development).

Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that must be ingested with food or can also be produced by our intestinal microbiome, is required as a preliminary stage (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

Practical tip: regularly include dates, pumpkin seeds, Parmesan cheese, Emmental cheese, soybeans and cashew nuts in your diet!

Balanced gut microbiome: support for your psyche

The direct connection between the gut microbiome and the brain highlights the importance of a balanced gut microbiome for mental health.
If, for example, the permeability of the gut increases due to dysbiosis, and as a result more inflammatory mediators are transported to the brain via the bloodstream, the communication between the gut and the brain is damaged. And that has an impact ...

Some studies show connections between dysbiosis and depression, anxiety disorders, but also Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, autism and multiple sclerosis. Effects on mood, behavior and circadian rhythm are also described.
A disturbed gut microbiome can be both a cause and a consequence of anxiety, stress and depression and can make symptoms worse.
On the other hand, a diverse gut microbiome seems to reduce pain perception (through greater tolerance) (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10).

In view of the strong networking, it is obvious that the gut microbiome has an influence on the psyche or neurological diseases. The reverse conclusion that the gut microbiome should also be taken into account in the treatment of mental and neurological diseases as well as for pain patients seems logical and promising (12, 13).

Colourful mix: good for your gut microbiome, good for your soul!

Strengthening the gut microbiome and thus your own health, especially your mental well-being, is definitely worth it! Strengthen your gut microbiome, for example, with...

• prebiotics as bacterial food (e.g. onions, garlic, pasta/potatoes/rice - cooked & cooled, oatmeal, peas/lentils/beans, unripe bananas, colorful vegetables and fruit with their skins)
• probiotics for a good climate in the gut (e.g. yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso, kombucha, naturally cloudy vinegar, pickled vegetables)
• omega-3 fatty acids because of the anti-inflammatory effect (e.g. salmon, olive oil, nuts, avocados)
• saffron and turmeric for flavor and good mood (14, 15).

Would you like to know more about your gut microbiome and how you can support it?

Get in touch!


(1)    Kim Jayeun, Kim Ho (2017): Democraphic and Environmental Factors Associated with Mental Health: A Cross-Sectional Study, in: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14(4):431.
(2)    American Psychological Association
(3)    Emeran Mayer (2016): The Mind-Gut Connection. How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impact Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health. HarperWave.
(4)    Alexander Capuco et al. (2020): Current Perspectives on Gut Microbiome Dysbiosis and Depression, in: Adv Ther 37(4):1328-1346.
(5)    Laura-Berencice Olvera-Rosales et al. (2021): Impact of the Gut Microbiota Balance on the Health-Disease Relationship: The Importance of Consuming Probiotics and Prebiotics, in: Foods 10:1261.
(6)    Christiane Frahm, Otto Witte (2019): Mikrobiom und neurodegenerative Erkrankungen, in: Gastroenterologe 14: 166-171.
(7)    Jane A. Foster et al. (2017): Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome, in: Neurobiology of Stress 7:124-136.
(8)    Chunliang Xu et al. (2020): The Gut Microbiome Regulates Psychological-Stress-Induced Inflammation, in: Immunity 53:417-428.
(9)    M. Hasan Mahajeri et al. (2018): Relationship between the gut microbiome and brain function, in: Nutrition Reviews 76(7):481-496.
(10)  Clair R. Martin et al. (2018): The Brain-Gut-Microbiome Axis, in: Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology 6(2):133-148.
(11)   Kan Gao et al. (2020): Tryptophan Metabolism: A Link Between the Gut Microbiota and Brain, in: Advances in Nutrition 11(3)709-723.
(12)  Emeran A. Mayer et al. (2022): The Gut-Brain Axis, in: Annual Review of Medicine 73:439-453.
(13)  Ran Guo et al. (2019): Pain regulation by gut microbiota: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential, in: British Journal of Anaesthesia 123(5)637-654.
(14)  ClaraSeira Oriach et al. (2016): Food for thought: The role of nutrition in the microbiota-gut-brain axis, in: Clinical Nutrition Experimental 6:25-38.
(15)  Kirsten Berding et al. (2021): Diet and the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis: Sowing the Seeds of Good Mental Health, in: Advances in Nutrition 12(4)1239-1285.