Is Your Gut Health Affecting Your Emotions?
Updated: May 12
It all starts in the gut.
I know as a nutrition consultant I may be a little biased but I let me back it up with some research...
I'm assuming that you have heard of a little thing called the gut-brain connection. And you may have even used phrases like “I have butterflies in my stomach”, "I have a gut feeling” or “I have a pit in my stomach.”
The intuitive nature of the gut has now been studied by science and has linked a pretty powerful connection between one's digestive health, mental and emotional health. In fact, your digestion system has been dubbed your second brain. The enteric nervous system that lines your entire digestive tract allows your gut microbe to communicate with your brain.
This relationship between our digestive system and brain can impact everything from emotions and moods to decision making and behaviour. The more science researches the gut microbiome, the more we are coming to understand how these bacteria impact EVERY FACET of our lives - not just our physical health and well-being, but also our thoughts and emotions. Some research has even suggested that our food cravings may actually be shaped by the bacteria that we have in our gut.
(I know mind-blowing!)
Many of our mood-related messages come from the bottom up, meaning many of your moods are determined by your gut. Scientists have found that 95 percent of your body’s supply of your happy hormone, serotonin, is actually found in the gut. And the neurotransmitter, GABA which controls feelings of fear and anxiety is also produced by your gut microbes. Researchers have discovered that brain chemistry and moods can be altered by manipulating the balance of bacteria found in the gut. FUN FACT: There are over 100 trillion microbes living in the human gut. Which is approximately 10x the number of actual human cells in the body. And the human gut microbiome is comprised of over 35,000 bacterial species. Your gut microbiome largely derives its nutrients from dietary carbohydrates (aka prebiotic fibre). This is why your diet continues to be the most important determinant in shaping the composition, diversity and richness of your microbiome. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fibre is associated with increased richness and diversity of gut microbes.
5 Key Types of Food for Your Gut-Brain Connection:
Fermented Foods - Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kefir and Kombucha, all contain healthy microbes that would help replenish your microbiome. (Adding in a daily probiotic may also be helpful!)
Omega-3 Fats - found in fatty fish can increase the good bacteria in the gut. Fatty fish such as Wild-caught Salmon, Sardines, and Mackerel.
High-fibre Whole Foods - Nuts, Seeds, Fruits and Vegetables provide your microbiome with prebiotics which feed bacteria presently in your gut allowing them to thrive.
Polyphenol-rich Foods - Cocoa, Green tea, Extra-virgin Olive Oil, and Coffee. Polyphenols are plant chemicals that are digested by your gut bacteria and help them flourish.
Tryptophan-rich Foods - Turkey and Eggs. Tryptophan is an amino acid converted into your happy hormone, serotonin.