Our gut health isn’t a very glamorous subject, nor is it the type of thing we talk about in polite society. But as more and more research is conducted on the importance of our gut health, perhaps it’s something we should pay more attention to.
One new area of exciting research is the link between the state of our gut health and our mood. In fact, there is a school of thought, that there is a ‘second brain’ in our guts, such is the strength of the link between the two.
The so-called gut-brain axis is the name given to this connection. We only have to think of the butterflies we feel in our stomachs when we feel nervous or excited to know this connection is real. And even more exciting, eating high quality, active, healing honey can benefit our gut health, and in turn possibly have benefits for our mental health, too.
The science into the gut-brain axis is complicated and multi-faceted. One way in which the gut and the brain communicate is through the nervous system. The cells of the nervous system are called neurons, which carry messages around the body to and from the brain. There are 500 million neurons in the gut alone, that are connected to the brain via nerves.
One of the biggest of these nerves is the vagus nerve. Studies show that if we’re stressed or we have poor gut health, the function of the vagus nerve can be impaired. The vagus nerve is responsible for a lot of bodily functions including mood control. Poor vagus nerve function is now linked with low mood and anxiety conditions. This suggests a link between an unhealthy gut and our mood could be via the vagus nerve. The research into this continues.
So, what does all this have to do with honey?
Honey contains a type of prebiotic fibre that’s beneficial to the health of what’s called our microbiome. Our microbiome is the collective name for the trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live in our guts. They’re extremely beneficial, and are also known as probiotics, or ‘good bacteria’.
Each one of us has a unique microbiome that is determined by factors as diverse as how we were born (a baby born vaginally is thought to have a more diverse microbiome than one born by caesarean) to where we live, who we mix with and whether or not we have pets.
The more diverse our microbiome, that is, the more varied and rich the mix of microorganisms, the healthier it is. The healthier our microbiome, the healthier our gut. The prebiotic fibre found in honey (as well as onions, garlic, asparagus, dandelion and chicory roots and Jerusalem artichokes) helps to feed the microbiome. (Plus, if you eat honey with honeycomb such as Necta & Hive Red Gum Honeycomb 30+ TA, you’ll be enjoying the additional benefits of bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly!)
Humans cannot digest prebiotic fibre, but our microbiome can, helping it to thrive. And as we’ve just learned, a thriving microbiome and a healthy gut can be good news for our mood. Also in the mood-boosting stakes is the ability for prebiotic fibre to reduce the major stress hormone, cortisol.
So next time you reach for the honey, give your pot a little thanks. Because it could be the reason you’re smiling today. Try a teaspoon of Necta & Hive Jarrah 22+ TA honey each day and discover the benefits for yourself.
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