Optimizing Your Gut for Better Mood: The Surprising Connection Between Gut Health and Depression

iOptimizing Your Gut for Better Mood: The Surprising Connection Between Gut Health and Depression

As women, we know that the connection between our gut and our mood is undeniable. After all, it’s not called a “gut feeling” for nothing! The gut is regularly referred to as the "second brain" due to the high concentration of nerve cells and neurotransmitters (including serotonin) found in the gut. Optimizing your gut health can actually raise serotonin levels and help us feel good. Let's explore the science behind the gut-brain connection and between gut health and depression and provide tips for improving your gut health to boost your mood.

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, sleep, and many other bodily functions. It’s often referred to as the “feel-good” chemical because it’s responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being. In fact, low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. 

The Gut-Brain Connection

The gut-brain connection refers to the communication pathway between the gut and the brain. This pathway is facilitated by the vagus nerve, a long nerve that runs from the brainstem to the abdomen. The vagus nerve is responsible for transmitting signals between the gut and the brain, allowing them to communicate with each other. 

Dr. Will Cole, a functional medicine expert and best-selling author, frequently discusses the connection between gut health and serotonin in his work. He emphasizes the importance of the gut-brain axis, which is the bidirectional communication pathway between the gut and the brain.

According to Dr. Cole, about 90% of the body's serotonin is produced in the gut. This means that gut health plays a critical role in serotonin production and mood regulation. When the gut is healthy, it can produce and regulate serotonin effectively, which can help improve mood, reduce anxiety, and support overall mental health. However, when the gut is out of balance, it can lead to a range of issues, including inflammation, dysbiosis (an imbalance of gut bacteria), and leaky gut syndrome. These issues can negatively impact serotonin production and contribute to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

The gut also contains a complex ecosystem of microorganisms known as the gut microbiome. These microorganisms play a crucial role in maintaining gut health and have been linked to various aspects of mental health, including mood regulation. Research has shown that the gut microbiome can influence the production and regulation of neurotransmitters, including serotonin. In fact, some studies have found that certain strains of gut bacteria can increase serotonin production, while others can decrease it linking gut health and depression further.


gut health and depression

Tips for Optimizing Your Gut Health

Now that we understand the importance of gut health for serotonin production and mood regulation to mediate gut health related depression let’s explore some tips for optimizing your gut health.

Eat a Healthy Diet:

A healthy diet is crucial for maintaining a healthy gut. Focus on consuming a variety of whole, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables high in prebiotic fiber, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods provide the vitamins, minerals, and fiber needed to support a healthy gut microbiome. On the other hand, highly processed foods, sugar, and artificial sweeteners can disrupt the gut microbiome and lead to inflammation, which can negatively impact serotonin production. Juna's Detox Drops are rich in phytonutrients and chlorophyll and support optimized digestion.

Take Digestive Enzymes:
Enzymes not only help with bloat and nutrient absorption but studies show they may help to heal the gut lining by improving digestion and reducing inflammation. Improved digestion can lead to better absorption of nutrients, which can support the growth and repair of gut cells. Additionally, some enzymes, such as bromelain, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to reduce inflammation in the gut and support healing. Juna’s Detox Enzyme Complex is superpowered by plants and clinically formulated for digestive optimization.

Consume Fermented Foods:
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that help maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Examples of fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.
Probiotics have been shown to increase serotonin production and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, it’s important to note that not all probiotics are created equal. Look for products that contain strains of probiotics that have been specifically studied for their mental health benefits.

Manage Stress:
Stress can have a negative impact on gut health by disrupting the gut-brain connection and altering the gut microbiome. In fact, chronic stress has been linked to an increased risk of developing digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). To manage stress, try incorporating stress-reducing practices such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing into your daily routine. Taking time for self-care activities such as reading, taking a bath, or spending time outdoors can also be helpful.

Get Enough Sleep:
Sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome and promoting serotonin production. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can alter the gut microbiome and lead to an increase in inflammation.
To ensure you’re getting enough sleep, aim for 7-9 hours per night and create a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation and winding down. Juna's Nightcap sleep gummies are made with an MIT backed microdose of plant-derived melatonin and are proven to supporrt a deeper sleep without the morning grogginess.

gut health and depression

Heal your gut with Supplementation:

Research has shown that certain supplements have a profound effect on gut nourishment and repair.  

Glutamine an amino acid that is crucial in maintaining gut health. It’s the most abundant amino acid in the body and is used by the gut lining for energy and to support the growth and repair of gut tissue.

It's known to  help improve gut permeability, which is the ability of the gut lining to allow nutrients to pass through while keeping harmful substances out. When the gut lining becomes too permeable, a condition known as leaky gut syndrome can occur, which can lead to inflammation and other health issues.

In addition, glutamine has been shown to increase serotonin production in the gut. One study found that supplementing with glutamine increased serotonin levels by 50% in healthy adults. To increase your intake of glutamine, you can consume foods that are rich in protein, such as meat, fish, and poultry, as well as plant-based sources such as beans, lentils, and spinach. You can also take glutamine supplements, which are widely available at health food stores.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and help maintain a healthy gut microbiome. They can be consumed through fermented foods or supplements. Research has shown that certain strains of probiotics can increase serotonin production and improve mood. For example, one study found that supplementing with the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium longum reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It’s important to note that not all probiotics are created equal. Look for products that contain strains of probiotics that have been specifically studied for their mental health benefits. In addition, it’s a good idea to rotate the strains of probiotics you consume to ensure a diverse gut microbiome.

L-Theanine is an amino acid that is found primarily in green tea. It has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including its ability to raise serotonin levels in the brain. Research has found that L-Theanine can increase serotonin production in the brain by increasing the availability of tryptophan, which is an amino acid that is necessary for the synthesis of serotonin. In addition, L-Theanine has been shown to increase the activity of serotonin receptors, which can further enhance serotonin function. Studies have also found that L-Theanine can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. One study found that consuming L-Theanine before a stressful task reduced both psychological and physiological stress responses in participants. L-theanine is one of the few nutrients that has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, which allows it to directly impact brain function and neurotransmitter levels. Once it crosses the blood-brain barrier, L-theanine has been shown to increase levels of several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.

To increase your intake of L-Theanine, you can consume green tea or take L-Theanine. Juna’s Gut Therapy capsules contain the powerful amino acid glutamine to nourish and repair the gut, a blend of 6 probiotics clinically proven to communicate along the gut-brain axis and L- Theanine to optimize your gut's neurotransmitters so you feel your best!

In conclusion, optimizing your gut health can have a significant impact on serotonin production and ultimately your mood. By consuming a healthy diet, consuming fermented foods, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and supplementing with glutamine and probiotics, you can support a healthy gut microbiome and improve your mental health. Remember to always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Related Reading: 

7 Benefits of Digestive Enzymes

Detoxing vs Dieting

How to Tantric Massage with Ease

Natural Sleep remedies proven to help you sleep deeper


  1. "Glutamine and the regulation of intestinal permeability: from bench to bedside": https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4369670/
  2. "L-Glutamine Supplementation Increases Serotonin 5-HTP Precurson Ratio in Biological Volunteers": https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11115795
  3. "The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review": https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4963874/
  4. "Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota and psychological health in adults with irritable bowel syndrome": https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5031164/
  5. "The effects of L-theanine on anxiety, depression, and sleep quality in patients with schizophrenia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial" (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6366437/)
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