The human gut is also known as the second brain but do you know why? It is because the enteric nervous system (ENS) doesnt depend on the brain, spinal cord, and central nervous system to carry out its functions. It is common knowledge that the gut is home to trillions of bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and fungi but did you know that these can have a huge impact on our moods and brain health? The gut contains about 70 per cent of the bodys immune cells that exist in balance with its resident microorganisms. These offer us protection against other bacteria that may harm our health.When the delicate balance between the two teams of microbiota is disrupted, the result is inflammation that may impact brain physiology, mood, and cognitive impairment. In fact, recent studies have shown that chemicals from an expectant mothers gut can reach the developing foetus and influence its neurodevelopment.The gut and its effect on moodThe gut plays a serious role in how we feel emotionally and physically by producing neurotransmitters aka the chemical substances which allow messages to pass between nerve cells. These include serotonin, dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine, and acetylcholineall of which can affect mood, motivation, focus, and reward. About 90 per cent of serotonin aka the feel-good hormone is produced in the gut rather than the brain.Studies have shown that individuals who suffer from gut disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often have to deal with managing depression and anxiety as well. A 2020 study found that suggesting the cautious use of probiotics (read: good bacteria) may help to treat depression.How to make your gut happyAvoid stressStress negatively impacts your whole body, including the gut. Some easy ways to reduce stress? Take a walk, meditate, make lists to manage your time better, or talk to a friend.Eat mindfullyTaking small bites and chewing your food well are two easy ways to ensure that you eat less and that the food youre eating is digested well. Both these habits can go a long way in maintaining gut health.Consuming pre and probioticsPrebiotics are the food that boosts the growth of good bacteria in our gut whereas probiotics are the good bacteria. Some naturally occurring prebiotics are onions, bananas, and garlic. Foods like yoghurt, kombucha, and apple cider vinegar are great examples of probiotics.Have less sugar and preservativesLoading up on artificial sweeteners and packaged foods may throw your gut bacteria in a frenzy. In fact, a 2015 study in animals showed that a diet in sugar and fat negatively affects the gut which in turn influences the brain and behaviour.