There’s new research linking gut health, mood, and stress… This is very exciting news! Especially for all that is going on in our world today with the pandemic. Stress and anxiety are flying high right now and we need a way to help alleviate it now!
Let’s talk about friendly gut microbes, probiotic foods, and supplements, as well as offer some simple recipes to keep your gut and taste buds happy and thriving.
First of all, what are gut microbes? There are trillions of microbes that live happily in our gut. These friendly microbes do more than help us digest foods, make vitamins, and protect us from the not-so-friendly microbes. They have mood-boosting and anti-stress functions too!
With all the research right now, researchers are finding out more about their awesome mood and stress benefits every day. The research is just starting to figure out the many gut microbe-brain connections.
GUT MICROBES AND PROBIOTICS
The microbes that live in our guts are known as our “gut microbiota”. The microbes that we can ingest are known as “probiotics”. I’m sure you heard the word, probiotics, before.
“Probiotics” are live organisms that you can eat, drink, or take as a supplement. They turn milk into yogurt, and cabbage into sauerkraut, and they are great for both your gut health and mental health. Special probiotics that have mental health benefits are called “psychobiotics,” (psycho = mental health, and biotics = live). They are live organisms that can benefit our psyche.
Probiotics can be found in yogurt, sauerkraut (and other fermented veggies), miso, tempeh, and kimchi. You can drink them in kefir or kombucha. Be sure to choose unpasteurized ones that will be refrigerated in your local grocer. If you are pregnant or have a compromised immune system, unpasteurized foods are not recommended. As always, please check with your healthcare provider before beginning anything new.
Of course, there are many probiotic supplements available, too. Check with your healthcare provider to identify which one is best for you. Generally, you want one that’s refrigerated and has at least 10 billion active cultures. I also suggest that you look for one that has been “third party tested,” which means someone outside the company has tested it and says it’s a quality product. I have access to many different ones, so if you would like a recommendation, I can help! Contact me!
Also, be sure to read the label before taking any supplements. The probiotics with the most research are of the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus types. But we still don’t know enough about the psychobiotic effects to make specific mood-boosting recommendations yet.
SIMPLE, PROBIOTIC-RICH RECIPES
Check out some of our team’s favorite recipes that will help you to include probiotics in your diet!
MOOD, STRESS, AND YOUR MICROBES
Can changing our gut microbes affect our moods and stress responses?
Many studies show after a few weeks of taking probiotic foods or supplements, healthy people have reduced stress hormones, feelings of stress, negative thoughts, and sad moods. One fascinating study showed that when people took probiotics, brain MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) tests showed reduced brain activity for negative and aggressive thoughts!
This is for sure some exciting research on the positive effect that probiotics can have on mood and stress. So, what can you do to nurture your own healthy gut microbes?
Other foods that can improve your mood
- Dark chocolate – chocolate has been linked to the neurotransmitter, serotonin, a mood-altering chemical. This might explain why you feel good after eating it. it only takes a small amount, so Savor a good-quality dark chocolate, which is lower in added sugars and high in antioxidants.
- Berries – add these fruits to your meals and snacks. Nutrients included are fiber, carbs (healthy) and antioxidants. Eating these fruits will increase the production of the feel-good chemical, serotonin.
- Salmon – contains Omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids play a critical role in reducing inflammation, which can impair brain function. It’s unclear how this all works, but it has been found that omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of anxiety symptoms. They neutralize the high concentration of pro-inflammatory cytokines often seen with depression and anxiety. If you don’t care for fish, you can get omega-3s in your diet from flaxseeds, walnuts, and canola oil.
- Pumpkin Seeds – considered a superfood. It’s rich in magnesium. Magnesium levels may get depleted when you are stressed. Extended periods of stress may result in a progressive magnesium deficit. Magneisum will counteract this affect. Other magnesium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, edamame, salmon, tofu, quinoa, and green leafy vegetables.
- Whole-grains – considered healthy carbs. Includes whole-grain pasta, oatmeal, brown rice, and popcorn. Diets low in carbs, like Keto, may impact the brain in a negative way and bring your mood down. However, a diet rich in whole grains can give your mood a boost!
Next time, we will touch on PREbiotics…
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