There are three major causes of Inflammation of the gut that will lead to poor gut health and consequently can have a major impact on your mental wellbeing.
I became aware of the link between gut health and mental health some years ago when I was working with a client who struggled with depression and IBS. Before that, I had been academically aware of the link but it was through making changes to his diet to treat the IBS that I saw the dramatic effect such changes could have on mental health. In a remarkably short time, his depression & anxiety were alleviated at least as much as his digestive issues.
This makes a lot of sense when you consider that 90% of the body’s Serotonin is found in the gut and that gut microbiota influences Serotonin & Dopamine production, as well as that of more than thirty neurotransmitters.
Research shows that gut health, microbiota, has a definite influence on brain chemistry and behavior so it only makes good sense to treat the gut by eating foods that will heal it & avoid those that will cause inflammation & imbalance.
Sugar is top of the list. It spikes insulin & triggers the release of inflammatory cytokines. It is also highly addictive, a source of empty calories and refined white sugar & simple carbs (which convert in your body almost immediately to sugar – fructose & sucrose) have almost no nutritive value.
Chemicals from processed foods, gluten grains, genetically modified foods, pesticides, hormonally modulating plastics and cosmetic additives all stimulate our immune systems to various extents , as well as promoting intestinal permeability – changes in our intestinal flora that facilitate growth of pathogenic bacteria, yeast & fungus which keep our immune systems in a state of alarm.
Stress – whether psychological or physiologic, triggers the release of cortisol (commonly called the stress hormone). High cortisol will lead to fat storage & fat cells secrete their own inflammatory signals.
The great news is you can treat your gut health and consequently alleviate anxiety and depression simply by making changes to your diet. Foods that will promote healthy gut microbiome are:
Probiotic Fermented foods – yoghurt (dairy or non dairy), kefir, apple cider vinegar, kombucha, kvass, sauerkraut & kimchi
Natural Good Fats – avocado, organic butter, cold pressed organic coconut, olive, sesame & macadamia oils, wild caught fatty fish like salmon.
Sprouted grains – enzymes are released during the sprouting process therefore breaking down proteins and carbohydrates, making them easier to digest and facilitating the absorption of nutrients.
Prebiotic foods – these help to feed the existing healthy bacteria in your gut to keep it healthy: garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, artichokes, green peas, lentils, almonds, raspberries & apples.
Healthy gut microbiome is essential for nutrient absorption, toxin elimination, brain health and mental wellbeing. The beautiful side effects of a diet rich in the foods that will promote this is that they will also promote healthy weight loss, excellent energy levels and great skin. Food really is the best medicine!
At Bali Lifestyle and Fitness Retreats learning about optimum nutrition is part of the journey and workshops are included in the package. We also offer private coaching, nutrition, and meal plans.