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Your Gut and Your Good Mood: Is There a Connection?

Have you ever thought about what is inside your belly? Probably not, but what if you knew that taking good care of your gut could also have a BIG impact on your overall health, and your mood? Well, it’s true! You see, there are an estimated 100 trillion+ microscopic bacteria living inside of your GI tract right now. Scientists are calling this vast ecosystem of teeny-tiny bacteria the “microbiome,” and within it there are many different strains of gut bugs. Some of them are considered to be “good” bacteria known as probiotics including that of lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus). However, not all gut bugs are created equal, and some of the strains inside your microbiome can become pathogenic (harmful) if left to grow into large colonies. These include strains like Escherichia coli (E. coli) – a common pathogenic strain of bacteria in vegetables, and meat.1

A healthy, balanced gut that includes a range of beneficial strains is essential to good overall health. Able to positively influence your digestive function, immunity, and even the communication between your gut, and your brain, scientists are calling the microbiome your “second brain.” In one study on the gut-brain axis, it was revealed that balanced gut microbiota is needed to lower your risk of health problems including metabolic disorders such as obesity, and diabetes. Surprisingly, in the past few years scientists have also found that a healthy, balanced gut also has a powerful influence over your good mood. In one study neuroscientists showed the importance of microbiota for reducing anxiety, and even depression.2

How to Boost Your Gut Health

Since your gut is such a vital component of your overall health it is very important that you take great care of it. After all, it may just keep you in a good mood! You may have already heard about probiotics as they are found in many common foods that you probably have eaten your entire life. Also known as “live active cultures,” probiotics are one of the most well-known ways to boost overall gut health. That’s because inside probiotic foods there are “good,” strains of microbacteria ready to help balance your gut.

Clinical studies have shown that consuming more probiotic foods may help to lessen behavioral problems, signs of distress as well as anxiety levels. A balanced diet that includes plenty of probiotic foods may also reduce chronic inflammation – a major factor for a variety of health problems.3,4

Here are the best probiotic foods for balanced gut health to start eating, today!

  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Pickles
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Natto
  • Yogurt
  • Dark chocolate

What Are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are the foods that the “good” bugs inside your gut love to eat. While they are not alive, prebiotics are the types of nutrients needed to grow the “live active cultures,” of probiotics that you can consume into large beneficial colonies.  

By feeding probiotic microbiota the foods they love (prebiotics), you can encourage a healthy, balanced microbiome.

Here is a list of the best prebiotic foods:

  • Onion
  • Leek
  • Radish
  • Carrot
  • Coconut flour
  • Flax, and chia seeds
  • Bananas
  • Garlic
  • Chicory root
  • Dandelion greens
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Jicama
  • Asparagus
  • Yams

Talk to Your Doctor

Taking control of your gut health is one of the most effective ways to regain overall balance in your body. By boosting your gut health, you may notice improvements in your digestion, immunity, and even your good mood! So, talk to your doctor today about your gut health. They may be able to suggest a few dietary changes to improve the balance of your microbiome, or even a probiotic supplement regimen. So, don’t wait! Talk to your doctor today about the power of probiotics to help take back your gut health, and your good mood.

References:

  1. Luke K Ursell, Jessica L Metcalf. Defining the Human Microbiome. Nutr Rev. 2012 Aug; 70(Suppl 1): S38–S44.
  2. Alper Evrensel, Mehmet Emin Ceylan. The Gut-Brain Axis: The Missing Link in Depression. Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci. 2015 Dec; 13(3): 239–244.
  3. Tillisch K, Labus J. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. 2013.
  4. 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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