The connection between gut health and mental health, known as the gut-brain axis, is currently being investigated and is giving promising findings.
With gut Microbiota, we refer to the colony of bacteria in our gut. Bacteria are very important for the functioning of our body. They play a key role in reducing inflammation and may have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer.
The balance of bacteria in our body is fundamental for our mental health as well.
THE GUT-BRAIN AXIS
The gut-brain axis (GBA) consists of bidirectional communication between the central nervous system (brain) and the enteric nervous system (gut).
Is not a coincidence that the gut is also called the “second brain’.
It’s common knowledge that negative feelings such as anxiety and stress cause trouble in the gut and stomach. Let’s think of examples such as “butterflies in the stomach” or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) when approaching stress situations.
Nowadays the research is interested in the other way around, which is how the gut microbiota influences our mental state.
When the bacteria in our gut are well balanced, the brain receives positive messages. Having an important number of unhealthy bacteria in our gut or irritations in the gastrointestinal system can lead to mood changes, anxiety, and even depression.
Bidirectionally, feelings like sadness and anxiety can increase stress response, influencing the composition of the gut microbiota and resulting in several troubles, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
PROMOTING GUT HEALTH WITH NUTRITION
Nutrition is crucial for healthy bacteria in the gut. A diet high in sugar consumption is not beneficial for our microbiota and can lead to insulin resistance and other health conditions.
Here are some tips that you can introduce into your diet for a healthier gut:
- Eat fewer sugars and sweeteners.
- Stop eating when you are full.
- Do not abuse caffeine and alcohol.
- Eat a different range of foods. A diversified microbiota is a healthy microbiota.
- Focus on seasonal veggies and fruits.
- Stay hydrated.
- Introduce foods rich in polyphenols, as well as probiotic and prebiotic foods.
BENEFICIAL FOODS FOR A HEALTHY GUT
Focusing on fresh, organic foods is always a good move to promote our health.
Try to introduce foods rich in polyphenols: they help reduce inflammation, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Foods rich in polyphenols are:
- Dark chocolate
- Green tea
Probiotic and prebiotic foods are also important for the Microbiota composition.
Probiotics are beneficial bacterias, found in certain foods, such as:
- Fermented vegetables
Prebiotics are food for beneficial bacterias. They are found in some types of carbs (mostly fibers) that humans can’t digest, for example:
- Legumes, beans, and peas
PROMOTING GUT HEALTH WITH THE RIGHT LIFESTYLE
Promoting our gut health is not the only thing that matters of the foods we introduce in our bodies. Our feelings have an impact on our gut too. That’s why managing our stress is also important for our gut health.
We cannot avoid stressful situations, but we can control and learn how to manage stress.
- Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and walking have positive effects on our mood.
- Exercising regularly is not only great for our physical health but also helps improve our mental clarity. Read about the 4 best workouts to improve your mood.
- Good sleep is important for our overall wellness. You can promote good sleep by sticking to a sleep schedule and creating a resting environment.
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