What is the Gut-Brain Axis (and Can It Make You Happier?)

What is the Gut-Brain Axis (and Can It Make You Happier?)

You may think the only way to improve your mood is with antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, but the real, long term solution lies deep within your gut.

When you take that first bite of pizza, you probably aren’t thinking about how it will affect your mood. But you should be! That’s because food and mood are intricately connected, and it all starts in your gut.

It’s called the gut-brain axis — the connection between your gut and brain and how it affects not just your digestive and physical health, but also your mood. Many of your body’s neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and GABA, are actually made in the gut. It’s through the vagus nerve – the largest nerve in your body — that the gut and brain communicate.

That means when your gut is impacted, so is your neurological health. Toxins and pesticides, chronic stress, unhealthy foods, and an imbalance in your microbiome can contribute to gut inflammation and damage your digestive function, and therefore, your brain health. Pro-inflammatory influences like toxins and bad bacteria can spread from your GI tract to other areas of your body. This is a condition known as leaky gut, and it can cause inflammation and imbalanced immune reactions throughout the body—including the brain, leading to mood imbalances, cognitive issues, and more serious neurological problems over time. Supporting healthy inflammation and immune activity in the gut can have profound benefits for your brain, and the rest of your body, with a significant reduction in overall inflammation.

Eating for Your Mental Health

If you suffer from depression, anxiety, lack of focus, poor motivation, and other mental health-related issues, look to your gut for help. Diet is the single most important component to healing your gut, improving your mental state, and restoring balance to your whole body.

When Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut” some 2,500 years ago, no one could have imagined just how right he was. Hundreds of studies have shown that people who eat healthy, whole foods-based diets are happier. A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies published in Molecular Psychiatry showed that a Mediterranean-style, anti-inflammatory diet is associated with a lower risk of depression, including clinical depression.1

What to Eat to Boost Your Mood

If you’re looking to boost your mood and support your mental health, feed your gut with fiber-rich and fermented foods. These tend to be packed with gut-friendly prebiotics and probiotics.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms to maintain or enhance the "good" bacteria in the body.

Probiotic foods: Miso, kombucha, Greek yogurt, kefir, raw sheep or goat cheese, sourdough bread, and almonds.

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are foods that are typically high in fiber that act as food for human microflora.

Prebiotic foods: Onions, garlic, asparagus, raw honey, chicory root, leeks, jicama, unripe bananas, berries, sprouted whole grains, and seeds.

Your gut also likes: Apple cider vinegar, lemon water, and other sour foods and drinks; olive oil for its fatty acids and polyphenols, which help feed good bacteria; ginger to help stimulate stomach acid; peas and other foods high in both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Probiotic Supplements: A Must for Your Mental Health

The second most important way to establish gut harmony (and thereby good mental health) is with a probiotic supplement. In addition to an unhealthy diet, many things can knock your body’s flora out of balance, including medications, pesticides, factory farmed poultry and meats, and even hand sanitizers. That’s why a daily probiotic is so important — your body and mind need a steady supply of healthy bacteria.

In a new study, researchers from the University of Oxford found that a multi-species probiotic supplement helped improve mood and emotional processing among subjects with untreated moderate depression. The four-week study involved 71 participants and was double-blind and placebo-controlled. “Our study shows that taking a probiotic supplement alters emotional processing and improves mood in people with moderate depression. The data provide further evidence for gut bacteria affecting human brain function,” says Phil Burnet, Associate Professor and study author, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford.2

If you’re looking for an effective daily probiotic supplement, ecoProbiotic is a fermented, organic blend of 8 clinically studied strains of live bacteria, prebiotic nutrients, and 19 herbs (e.g., licorice root, anise seed, ginger, and fenugreek) to enhance digestion. Unlike many other probiotics, ecoProbiotic is physician-formulated to deliver essential and fast-acting support to balance your gut against unhealthy microbes, toxins, and other inflammatory impacts.




This concentrated, fermented formula provides fast-acting, digestive and microbiome support, in a highly bioavailable liquid form.*

When you take a probiotic supplement like ecoProbiotic daily, the ingredients work to nourish your digestive and circulatory systems, so they function at their best, balance your microbiome, promote a healthy gut, and enhance your mood. So if you are focused on promoting your mental health and boosting your mood, prioritizing your gut health is the key.



  1. Lassale C, Batty GD, Baghdadli A, et al. Healthy dietary indices and risk of depressive outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Mol Psychiatry. 2019 Jul;24(7):965-986.
  2. Baião R, Capitão L, Higgins C, et al. Multispecies probiotic administration reduces emotional salience and improves mood in subjects with moderate depression: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Psychological Medicine. 2022. 1-11.