Imagine taking probiotics to treat mood disorders or a Doctor asking you about your emotional state when you show up with gastrointestinal issues.
Your gut directly contributes to your well-being or your lack of well-being. Often referred to as the second brain, your gut consists of over 100 million neurons that communicate with the brain in your head. Your gut produces and uses the majority of serotonin in your body.
What is Serotonin?
- It is sometimes called the ‘feel good’ neurochemical and is very much connected to your emotions.
- It is also converted into melatonin which signals your body that it's time to sleep.
- Serotonin assists in the growth of new neurons in our hippocampus. The hippocampus assists in the regulation of our fight-flight-freeze response.
So how can you best fuel and heal your gut-brain?
Bacteria. Yup, bacteria.
Your gut is also home to a colony of microorganisms – the microbiome.
Imagine a world consisting of thousands of tiny little microorganisms having their own little city in your gut and the state of their ecosystem directly affects your emotional and mental states. When they are flora-ishing (see what I did there?) you will feel better mentally and emotionally. However, when they are in a state of disharmony you are also in disharmony.
The food list below is far from complete but it’s a good place to start.
Beneficial foods that build up good bacteria:
- Probiotic foods include fermented foods such as yogurt (sugar-free), sauerkraut, kimchi, and tempeh
- Prebiotic foods include raw; asparagus, carrots, garlic, onions, dandelion greens, and artichokes
Harmful foods that feed bad bacteria:
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Starch-based foods such as potatoes, corn, and grains
And of course, stress levels will also affect your microbiome. Take time to figure out what is important; be discerning about what is worth your energy and what isn’t.