Many may be surprised to hear 10 times more bacteria are lining our digestive tract than there are cells in our bodies.
Maintaining the microbiota, which makes up the biome inside our digestive tract, is essential in maintaining mental health, according to Dr. Andrew Bryck.
During his presentation on "A Naturopathic Perspective on the Gut-Brain Axis and Its Role in Mental Emotional Disorders," Bryk discussed the profound interconnection of the body's numerous functions.
"It influences nearly every system of the body, but we know that there are now profound impacts on mental-emotional health that are driven and derived from abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract," he said.
How we treat our digestion affects all aspects of our being, he said, and he believes in the next 10 years nearly every disease process in the body will be traced back to the gut.
Bryk notes the single greatest determinant to our health is the gut microbiota; the delicate ecosystem of bacteria lining our intestinal tract influences the entire body, and individuals need to be aware of the foods they eat and their levels of stress and how that might upset the balance inside our guts.
"Food choices play a big role. The less processed foods, the less highly reactive foods, food allergies, food sensitivities those play a great role in terms of how we feel, not only on a mental health basis but in terms of how we feel overall," he said.
According to Bryk, in any given year one in five Canadians will suffer a mental-emotional, mental health-related issue, and by the age of 40, 50 percent of the population will have experienced this kind of difficulty.
Looking at this data, Bryk says we can't look at the situation as it's only going on in the brain because the digestive tract has a significant influence on how the brain functions.
"You have to understand that every system in the body is interconnected and a problem in one area is likely a symptom of something deeper going on," he said.