Does a Bad Gut Affect Your Mood?

Did you know that your gut health directly affects you both physiologically and psychologically?

Although a hot cup of coffee, a long drive, and dancing to a favorite tune can uplift your mood almost instantly, is this good mood sustainable?

While indulging in momentary pleasures can indefinitely put you in a better mood, they are almost always temporary. This is predominantly due to poor gut health!

The gut is often neglected as an organ and is understood primarily for its function as a digestive tract only. However, a plethora of modern lifestyle illnesses like heartburn, diabetes, PCOD/PCOS, anxiety, depression, skin conditions, and mood swings stem from an unhealthy gut.

Numerous studies have found that possessing a healthy gut helps you feel an increase in energy levels, improved mental clarity, better emotional well-being, decreased illnesses and improves your overall mood by a large margin. 

Let’s take a closer look at your gut!

There are about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria present in your gut. While not all of the microorganisms present may be the best for your health, a majority of those microorganisms are essential for a healthy functioning body.

A significant function of your gut microbiome is to release a large amount of neurochemicals that the brain uses in various functions – most importantly to regulate your mood! 

A poor diet over a long period inadvertently harms your gut. Recognizing this, it then becomes pivotal to understand that it can damage and change the composition of the gut entirely over time. This makes it difficult for the gut microbiome to break down the nutrients in the digestive tract to their optimum. 

Now that you are familiar with the direct correlation between your gut and mind. Let’s find out more about what causes an unhealthy gut, its symptoms, the effects it has on your mood, and how we can improve its function to its optimum. 

What causes an unhealthy gut?

You are what you eat! This metaphor fits perfectly when understanding an unhealthy gut and its implications on our mood. 

One of the many reasons that make for poor gut health is an improper diet. Highly processed and sugary foods, excessive consumption of alcohol, lack of prebiotic fiber, and most importantly, an unbalanced diet that does not contain a diverse range of foods account for an unhealthy gut.

Unfortunately, the quick-paced modern lifestyle largely consists of precisely this – that which is the quickest way to cause a leaky gut. For the most part, due to its contents consisting of simple sugars and simple carbohydrates. 

Apart from a bad diet, physical inactivity, increased use of antibiotics, smoking cigarettes, stress, and inadequate sleep also contribute to the ill health of your gut.

Acknowledging the causes, let’s take a look at the symptoms of having an unhealthy gut present. 

Symptoms of an unhealthy gut:

An unhealthy gut that leads to a leaky gut is often undiagnosable by medical health professionals. 

The symptoms of a poor gut that causes unpleasant moods among individuals are:

(i) Increased Sugar Cravings: Since consuming highly processed and sugary foods creates an imbalance of the gut microbiome, it can cause you to have an increase in sugar cravings.

(ii) Inadequate Sleep: The gut produces melatonin, although different from pineal melatonin; an imbalance in the production of this chemical addresses the issue of lack of sleep. 

(iii) Disturbed Mood Swings: 95% of a body’s serotonin is produced in the digestive tract and when there is an imbalance in the gut, there is an imbalance in mood swings. 

The above-mentioned symptoms, when experienced, cause irritability, fatigue, lack of concentration, fluctuation of hormone levels, depression, anxiety, among various other physiological effects – all of which affect an individual’s mood!

Ways to obtain a good mood sustainably:

(i) A healthy diet: Since you are what you eat, and your imbalanced, unhealthy intake of food is causing a direct effect on your gut which sequentially affects your mood, then switching to a healthier diet can guarantee a better mood; sustainably! 

A diet consisting of a whole and diverse range of foods, high fiber and plant-based foods, prebiotics, and lean proteins promises improved gut health by restoring the protective linings of the intestines and prevents a leaky gut.  

(ii) Reducing stress levels: Think of any activity that calms you down and practice it! Stress makes the body highly sensitive and dysfunctional. 

Taking a walk, meditating, listening to relaxing music, playing with a pet, etc., can considerably reduce your stress and help your gut function to its optimum.

(iii) Having a sleep cycle: Setting a particular time apart for your sleep in a day and consistently following through with it can help your body in more ways than one. But most importantly, it improves your gut health. 

Cutting out caffeine before bedtime, not using any devices at least one hour before you sleep, and eating about 1-2 hours before bedtime helps you have a good night’s sleep. 


Instant gratification sure feels great, but delayed gratification is where you reap the rewards! 

A good diet, structured sleep routine, and decreased stress can go a long way in helping you attain a better mood, positive mindset, and improved mental health.