The gut is often referred to as our "second brain", which in medical terms, is known as the Enteric Nervous System (ENS).
The gut controls so many vital functions in the body, including regulating your hormones, digestion, heart health and immunity, so it should come as no surprise that there's a connection between your ability to concentrate and your gut health.
The overall health of our body is interconnected, so even though Western medicine tends to divide the body into different sections and specialities, it's important to keep in mind the concept of interconnectedness.
In other words, the body is made up of a variety of key functions that all work together harmoniously to keep you healthy in body and mind, but disruption in any area can have an impact overall.
In other words, chaos in the gut can deplete you mentally and emotionally. And conversely, mental stress or emotional trauma can cause imbalances in the gut, leading to a variety of physical health challenges.
How is Concentration and Gut Health Connected?
On a very basic level, your gut health affects your concentration, because if you are bloated, constipated or suffering from digestive problems, you are not going to be able to focus.
However, the connection between concentration and gut health goes deeper than that. Poor gut health also interrupts the transmission of data to the brain via gut-brain access.
Think of the connection between your brain and your gut as a two-directional highway and on that road, there is constant traffic or a transmission of information being relayed.
Now imagine the road is riddled with potholes and obstructions. The critical information that needs to travel back and forth to your brain won't be able to get there as quickly or efficiently. As a result, your gut and your brain stop performing at their best to keep you healthy, happy and alert.
And if you really let your gut health get away from you, your brain's ability to focus will become severely compromised.
Understanding Your Gut Microbiome
To understand the connection between your brain and your gut—specifically, your concentration and your gut—you must also understand the role your gut microbiome plays in facilitating smooth running of your brain-gut axis.
Your gut microbiome is composed of all the microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) and all their genetic material within the gastrointestinal tract. When balanced, your microbiome helps to keep your digestive system operating well, while also keeping the flow of highway traffic running smoothly.
However, when your microbiome is unbalanced and there is too much pathogenic or harmful bacteria overwhelming your digestive system, your metabolism can become impaired and, as a result, the number of your neurotransmitters may become too high or low.
Without the right balance of neurotransmitters travelling on the gut-brain highway, there is going to be congestion and delays. Hence, the inability to concentrate and commonly, lethargy, head aches and brain fog.
How to Heal Your Gut Health & Improve Concentration
The connection between gut health and our ability to concentrate is well known, but not talked about often enough.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to easily and effectively open the pathways between your gut and brain to improve your concentration and mood.
Here are our favourite tips for boosting gut health, mental clarity, focus and emotional wellbeing:
1. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep was anciently considered the greatest gift that you receive for embracing the 7 principles of health on a consistent basis.
Too many people don't get enough quality sleep each night, which has a big impact on how they look and feel over the long term and their mental focus.
You should aim for 6-8 hours of restful sleep every single day, as it's one of the simplest ways to improve your gut health, mood and overall ability to concentrate.
Also, when you sleep, your body does its living temple work - resetting and recycling all of the vital areas, including rebalancing the gut microbiome to help eliminate harmful bacteria which can otherwise cause a phenomenon known as gut dysbiosis.
Gut dysbiosis occurs when your body struggles to keep the harmful internal bacteria in check; and sleep plays a very important role in achieving this.
For helpful tips for getting a quality night's sleep go to our blog: 7 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep.
2. Enjoy More Fermented Foods
As the saying goes, "you are what you eat", and this same principle applies to your ability to concentrate.
The quality of the food that you source and include in your diet, has a significant impact on your overall energy, gut health and mental performance.
However, eating for high performance requires an extra level of consciousness, because it not only means being wary of your sources of food, but also paying special attention to the foods that help to cultivate a healthy gut.
Fermented foods are one of those food groups that are extra vital if you suffer from brain fog or lack the ability to focus or concentrate.
In other words, you could be eating what you believe is a healthy diet, but if you're not including foods that help feed and nourish good bacteria in the gut, you may wonder why you're still struggling to concentrate.
Fermented foods provide what known as, Probiotics.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for you and nurture a healthy gut microbiome.
While you can take a probiotic supplement, the best way to get probiotics is from a real fermented food source.
Some of our favourite fermented foods include:
- Sourdough bread
Learn more: 6 Probiotic Rich Foods for a Healthy Gut.
3. Get Outside and Breathe
Not only will getting outside help you reduce feelings of anxiety and stress, but by connecting with nature, you will also help to ensure a healthy gut, particularly when you practice deep breathing and intentionally bring fresh oxygen into the body.
Aim to get outside in the early morning and take in at least 10 minutes of fresh air. Go for a walk along the beach, amongst the trees, or do some light stretching on the back deck and deep breathing at the same time.
At least once or twice per week (more if you can), try to escape from your immediate environment and go and connect with nature.
It could be a hike in the bush, mountain biking, or a long walk by the ocean - whatever works for you, mother nature has tremendous healing powers and an ability to help rebalance your gut and clear your mind.
4. Use Essential Oils That Support Gut Health
Essential oils are a powerful way to maintain a healthy gut and to boost your mental clarity and focus.
Essential oils are also a great alternative to synthetic medicines and should be a basic foundation of your self care routine.
There are a handful of pure essential oils that are particularly effective for supporting gut health and in turn, better concentration and focus.
These oils include:
- Lemon Oil
- Oregano Oil
- Clove Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Cardamom Oil
- Fennel Oil
Alternatively, you can get the benefits of many gut-healthy essential oils in one unique proprietary blend with dōTERRA's amazing DigestZen.
All of these essential oils can help soothe and restore your digestive system.
Keep in mind, that you should only use 100% pure essential oils that have no fillers or additives. For this reason, we recommend dōTERRA essential oils because of their purity and efficacy.
You will find a full selection of doTERRA essential oils in our store at Tolmanselfcare.com
5. Daily Exercise
Just like your diet, the extent to which you moderately move your body each day, plays a vital role in your overall health and wellbeing, including your gut health and concentration.
Studies show that exercise helps to cultivate the growth of healthy bacteria, which produces a fatty acid known as, Butyrate.
Butyrate helps to repair the gut lining, which in turn reduces inflammation that can lead to bowel diseases and insulin resistance (a major cause of diabetes). Not to mention, that regular exercise is a major key to boosting your energy, maintaining a healthy weight and to supporting your overall mental health and wellbeing.
Set aside at least 20-30 minutes per day to get some quality exercise. This is vital to your overall gut health and your ability to concentrate.
The Main Takeaway
Your gut health is critical to many important functions of your body and is very much connected to concentration.
The secret to avoiding dysbiosis - or imbalances in the gut - that can impact your level of mental clarity and focus over time, begins with embracing the tips that we've shared with you here, consistently.
Get quality sleep and daily exercise. Include fermented foods in your diet, connect with nature and use essential oils.
All of these practices will go a long way to helping you to restore and maintain healthy gut balance, avoid discomfort and disease, as well help you to thrive and maintain a healthy, happy mind.
Tolman Self Care.