The Connection Between Mood, Sex, And The Microbiome
Remember when Leaky Gut exploded on the scene? When I heard about microbiome, I was sure it must be a secret ploy for another soup diet, or a marketing scheme for the latest sawdust-inspired breads. The obsession with bone broth as the leaky gut cure didn’t help that (I mean, who in their right mind would spend days making soup?).
But then the probiotic bacteria of the ole’ microbiome got involved.
As it turns out, there’s a whole shebangabang of microbes in our gut that serve as a “second brain.” These microbes actually keep our health in check (so much for my Leaky Gut conspiracy theory). Even more, they actually have a direct role with our brain and our emotions! Sex even! Leaky Gut health may not be your thang, but read about the connection between microbes and sex drive, and you’ll be making kombucha mocktails for date night…
The Deets On Microflora
Dr. Emeran Mayer, gastroenterologist and neuroscientist extraordinaire, is basically the wise all-knowing guru of mind-brain-body science. His studies have discovered that the digestive system is home to trillions upon trillions of probiotic bacteria. Most of them hang out in the large intestine, where they help to help break down undigested food (hello 2am bean burrito with extra cheese and guacamole). These trillions of bacteria “squatting” in our colon not only help with digestion, but they actually double as an intestinal lining (thus, the Leaky Gut connection). As we know now, research shows one heck of a connection between Leaky gut syndrome and a variety of ailments, like Crohn’s Disease, GERD, and autoimmune disorders. But it turns out that that the microbiomes role in the body goes way beyond digestion and nutrition.
Microflora And Mood
You know those “feel good” hormones scientists talk about? Well, Dr. Mayer’s mind-gut research has discovered that the trillions of bacteria in our gut have receptor sites for such “feel good” signal molecules. Serotonin and dopamine — two brain chemicals vital to mental health and well being — just happen to chat with our gut bugs. It may not sound like a big deal, but serotonin is kinda paramount to our sanity because of it’s connection with mood. Actually, it’s the secret ingredient in most antidepressants. And that’s pretty important for sex, given depression’s history as a natural turn-off.
Mood And Sex
The connection between mood and microbes gets even crazier. Because for ages, science believed that the brain was the epicenter of mood-regulating neurotransmitters. But they were wrong! Because not only do these hormones like serotonin hang out in the belly, but as much as 80-90% of serotonin is produced, not in the brain, but the gut. Even crazier, research shows the microbiome and brain communicate with each other. And these microbes actually change their behavior based on our brain chemicals (aka emotions).
Being in a good mood is obviously crucial to “being in the mood,” but the connection between serotonin and sexual desire gets even more physical. According to Dr. Edward Catalano, serotonin is present in nerves and sexual regions, and it even plays a role in blood flow. So while yogurt is no substitute for a well-trained lover, bacteria could have a huge role in creating a quality sex life.
Improving (Sexual) Health
So, obviously, probiotic bacteria are a must-eat. However, you don’t have to go pick up some fancy $50 pill or powder. Sure, they’ll definitely help, but a little tweak in diet and lifestyle are all that’s really needed. One of the best ways to improve eating habits is to get your microbiota bene’s with dinner. Dr. Josh Axe promotes a Leaky Gut Diet that’s packed with microbes from raw cultured dairy (yogurt and kefir), and fermented foods (especially sauerkraut and kimchi). Fermented foods are crazy easy to make, and they’re ridiculously cheap. Combine some ancient kitchen skills with a diet that’s low in sugar and gluten, and probiotic bacteria can thrive while yeasts are kept on the down-low.
Of course, eating kimchi for dinner isn’t going to fix every sexual woe. So, while you’re working on what you eat, remember to pay attention to how you feed your soul. Bedroom troubles can arise for many different reasons, and probiotic microbes are no fix for low self-worth or a crappy relationship dynamic. So make sure you feed yourself and your relationship with the same care you should put into feeding your body. Do that, and you’re sure to see positive changes of all kinds.
Ash Stevens (“Asha”) is a writer who doubles as a pretend philosopher and a wannabe shaman. When she isn’t writing her soul out on her blog, she’s listening to the great minds (or great comedians) on YouTube, soaking up sunshine, or having yet another fascinating conversation with herself (she gives excellent advice, you know). Find her on Twitter or Facebook and make a new friend!
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