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How Food Can Change Your Gut and Your Mood

Food is one of the most important aspects of maintaining your good health. After all, there is no better source of vitamins, minerals, essential fats and other nutrients than right on your plate. But have you ever thought about the impact your diet could have on your brain? While a balanced diet that includes a variety of natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is vital for a strong, and healthy body, it is also necessary for your brain function.

Can What’s on Your Plate Change Your Brain?

Today, researchers know more than ever before about the connection between your healthy gut, and proper brain function. You see, recently scientists found out that the estimated 100 trillion+ microscopic bacteria that live inside your gut are not only alive, but they also have a mind of their own! Scientists call this the enteric nervous system (ENS) as the trillions of teeny tiny micro-bacteria are able to actually send messages to your brain in a similar way as your nervous system.1  

This has also been called the gut-brain connection, and it is the reason why a healthy balance of gut bugs has such a powerful influence on the way your brain works. Apparently, the trillions of living gut bugs are able to influence many different aspects of your mind including the foods that you crave, and even your good mood!2 So, it is not a good idea to let your gut health go unnoticed.   

Not All Gut Bugs Are Created Equal: The Importance of Probiotics

The trillions of micro-bacteria that live inside your digestive system include many different strains. Some of these are “good,” strains like that of lactobacillus acidophilus, (L. acidophilus), and some are “bad,” like Escherichia coli (E. coli).

This is why you may have already heard the term “pro-biotic.” The “good” bugs are known as probiotics because they are generally beneficial to the balance, and overall function of your gut health. However, there are also “bad” bugs that over time can become harmful to your health if they overgrow inside the gut. If these types of “bad” gut bugs become pathogenic, they may cause damage to your health including a loss of immunity, joint pain, gut inflammation, unwanted weight gain, and an increased risk for diabetes, and CVD.3

The BEST Foods for Gut Health

Probiotics are the best foods to feed your gut because they help to boost the number of beneficial bacteria in your GI tract.  

Here are just a few probiotic foods to start eating, today!

  • Kombucha
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Kefir
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Plain yogurt
  • Dark chocolate
  • Green peas
  • Green olives
  • Natto
  • Kvass
  • Cottage cheese

Feeding the “Good” Bugs

Pre-biotics are the type of foods that the “good” bugs inside your digestive system love to eat. By feeding the “good” bugs  prebiotic foods you may be able to maintain a healthy, balanced gut.

  • Raw chicory root
  • Raw Jerusalem artichokes
  • Bananas
  • Dandelion greens
  • Raw garlic
  • Raw leeks
  • Onion, raw, or cooked
  • Asparagus
  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat flour
  • Banana

Restoring Your Gut Balance With Natural Foods

Raw natural foods are a great source of nutrients that help to support a balanced gut. In eating them, you may also notice improvements in your mental functioning. One study showed that probiotics (“good” gut bugs) like those found inside plain yogurt, and fermented foods may be able to reduce anxiety levels, and even lower signs of distress. Research has also revealed that common probiotic foods are associated with lower levels of inflammation.4,5

A Final Note on Your Gut Health

Your gut balance is central to your optimal health. However, at the end of the day you may suffer with negative effects so common with our fast-paced lifestyles as Americans. This can include everything from a poor diet, to chronic stress levels, and even the loss of your good mood. But making small changes that work to benefit your gut balance may help!

So, talk to your doctor today about developing a probiotic guide to your best health. They may make a few dietary suggestions, and even put you on a probiotic supplement regimen. No matter what your doctor recommends, getting your gut health back on track is easy to do. So, don’t wait to take back what matters to you most – your health!

 

References:

  1. Jane A. Foster. Gut Feelings: Bacteria and the Brain. Cerebrum. 2013 Jul-Aug; 2013: 9.
  2. Jane A. Foster. Gut Feelings: Bacteria and the Brain. Cerebrum. 2013 Jul-Aug; 2013: 9.
  3. Andrew B. Shreiner, John Y. Kao. The gut microbiome in health and in disease. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2015 Jan; 31(1): 69–75.
  4. Tillisch K, Labus J. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. 2013.
  5. Messaoudi M, Lalonde R. Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2011.

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