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Grief, Trauma and Gut Health

Grief, Trauma and Gut Health

Grief, trauma and gut health are all connected. At some point in life we all experience some sort of trauma. The death of a loved one is just one example. When there is trauma in our lives we experience grief. With grief and trauma there is the potential to develop PTSD. The good news is that the majority of the people who experience trauma do not go on to have PTSD. It is good to be aware of the possibility and what you can do to prevent it and or deal with it. 


When you think of the gut and the brain, it seems they are two totally separate pieces of the body. What many are starting to learn is the direct connection the brain and the gut have. Some scientists even call the gut, “the second brain”.


Grief, trauma and …What is the gut?

 No, it is not that layer of fat that hangs over the top of your jeans when you sit down, well not exactly anyway.


It is an organ system that is made up of the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines.Your gut health is a big indicator of your overall physical and mental health.

In 2018 Sian Hemmings, found that types of gut bacteria were similar in those who experienced trauma whether they developed PTSD or not. There are beneficial bacteria that help us stay healthy. When we lack that beneficial bacteria it causes inflammation which ultimately compromises our brain function putting us further at risk for mental health struggles. 


Food that feed trauma and grief

Life can get so busy. Whether you are working long hours, driving kids to and fro or both, cooking food after a long day isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. Maybe you just don’t have time. It becomes a habit to run through a drive through and get that juicy burger with a side of fries,and the drink that comes with the meal, why not? Well most of us know that eating from a fast food line isn’t good for our waistline, but do you know that it can have a major impact on our gut health and therefore our mental health. Could that burger be making your grief and trauma worse?


When you are dealing with trauma and grief your brain is taking so much time and energy  processing your emotions it can take away from your ability to have the energy to make healthy decisions elsewhere. Hopping in that drive through line feels good in the moment but can set you up for further inflammation and potentially contribute to anxiety and poor mental health. 


An interesting study showed that 84 percent of US male Vietnam War veterans are overweight or obese, a much higher rate than the general population. What do these men have in common? They experienced trauma and many PTSD. It is not to say everyone that deals with trauma and grief will be overweight, of course not, everyone is different, however grief and trauma can create an imbalanced gut if proper nutrition is not being looked after.


Food for healing

The good news is in the same way foods can impact trauma and grief negatively, they can also change things for the better. 

Some great things to eat include blueberries. According to the book, This is Your Brain on Food, a study found that a “blueberry-enriched diet increased serotonin levels in the brain and reduced free radicals and inflammation.” Spices such as turmeric Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids are also gut healing foods.  So grab some spices, salmon and a pile of blueberries and start healing your grief, trauma and gut health. 


Just a reminder I am not a Doctor, just a fan of healthy grief healing. For more support consult your doctor, nutritionist and other appropriate medical professionals. Find additional grief support here. 


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