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Gut Brain Connection: How Food Affects Mood

Gut Brain Connection, Gut Health, Holistic, Functional Medicine, Health, Depression, Anxiety, Natural

Gut Brain Connection: How Food Affects Mood

You’ve probably heard all about the importance of gut health recently, as it affects our digestion, energy levels, immunity, hormones, and more…but have you ever thought that your gut microbes may affect your brain? Research on the gut-brain connection has shown that upwards of 90% of your serotonin (our feel-good neurotransmitter, responsible for feelings of happiness and balanced mood) is produced in our gut by its’ microbes, not in the brain! Shocking, right?

This clearly shows that the food we eat DOES, in fact, impact our mood. Cortisol (our stress hormone) is also affected by our gut bacteria. The good bacteria in our gut have been shown to reduce cortisol levels when too high, therefore decreasing anxious and depressive feelings. Keep reading, and we will dive deep into foods that are damaging to the gut (and therefore damaging to the brain). We’ll also get into foods that are GREAT for the gut and play a large role in boosting your mood!

Worst Foods For Gut + Mood

  1. Processed Sugar & Artificial Sugars
    • Diets high in processed white sugar causes an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. Artificial sugars have been shown to have a “sterilizing” effect on our gut microbes.
  2. Processed White Flour
    • White flour in foods such as white bread, white pasta, white tortillas, etc. essentially turn straight to sugar in our body. In turn, the unwanted bacteria in our gut feed off the sugars.
  3. Fried Foods
    • Fried foods (especially those fried in vegetable, corn, canola oils – which most are) cause irritation and inflammation in the gut.
  4. Antibiotics (both in medication + factory-farmed meat)
    • Antibiotics are very damaging to our but microbiome, as they completely wipe out our gut bacteria, both the good and the bad. Factory farmed animals are given antibiotics, and you indirectly ingest them through their meat. Opt for grass-fed and organic meats when possible!
  5. Alcohol
    • Alcohol is essentially digested into simple sugars when consumed, therefore causing overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. Alcohol has also been shown to harm the mucosal lining of the gut (where many of your immune cells reside), causing inflammation, leakage in the intestinal lining, and decreased immune function.
IBS, Gut Brain Connection, Food, Holistic Health, Nutritionist, Digestive Issue

Best Foods For Gut + Mood

  1. Fermented Foods
    • Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics, When ingested, probiotics aid + proliferate the good bacteria in our gut microbiome. Examples of fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, cottage cheese, miso, tempeh, and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar.
  2. Bone Broth & Bone in Meats
    • Bone broth and bone-in meats are rich in collagen and glycine, which help heal and seal the lining of the gut. This is important, as the tight junctions in our gut lining are damaged when there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Pssst, Kettle + Fire makes great quality bone broth ready-to-eat and you can use code THRIVALNUTRITION to get 20% off your order!!
  3. Prebiotic Foods
    • Prebiotics creates an optimal environment in the gut for probiotics to thrive. Some of the top prebiotic-rich foods include onions, bananas, leeks, garlic, asparagus, artichokes, apples, dandelion greens, chicory root, jicama, seaweed, cacao, and oats.
  4. Herbs and Spices
    • Herbs and spices are full of antioxidants and inflammation-fighting phytochemicals. Some herbs and spices that play a powerful role in reducing inflammation in the gut include turmeric, garlic, ginger, cardamom, fenugreek, peppermint, cinnamon, and oregano. Most of us generally stick to salt and pepper when cooking, and really miss out on the powerful benefits of herbs and spices. Try adding in one of the above to a meal this week!

Symptoms

Symptoms of poor gut health include reflux, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, and more. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your body is likely trying to signal that your gut is suffering. We have amazing diet and supplement protocols, guidance, and more at Thrival Nutrition specifically focused on optimizing gut health (and beyond).

Get Your Gut Brain Connection Working

If your body is trying to tell you something, don’t ignore it! We are here to help you achieve optimal health! Book your free call today!

Claire Stewart RD
Claire Stewart
claire@thrivalnutrition.com

Claire is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and graduated from Texas Christian University with a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is also a yoga instructor, and love combining this practice with nutrition to help others achieve true freedom through health – physically, spiritually, and mentally! Some of her other hobbies include hiking with her husband, cooking & creating recipes, and gardening. Get connected with her - https://thrivalnutrition.com/austinnutritionist-clairestewart/