If you’re anything like me then you’re still haunted by those images of tiny bacteria crawling on your pillow despite how often you’ve cleaned your sheets. Unfortunately, I have more bad news for you – bacteria are everywhere, including your gut! There are over 1,000 different species of bacteria in our gut making up our gut flora. With more and more research coming out regarding the benefits of a healthy gut flora, there is one area of research in particular that is most intriguing, and that’s the role our gut plays in brain health.
Our gut induces the production of several neurotransmitters, including serotonin -95% of serotonin is actually produced in the gut! Serotonin impacts every part of your body and is considered a natural mood stabilizer regulating anxiety, happiness and mood. Is the secret to happiness a healthy gut? Here are three ways to improve your gut health:
1. Proper Digestion
A recent study found that carbohydrate malabsorption was linked to depression in women. In addition many people with celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome also suffer from mood disorders. Undiagnosed celiac disease and untreated irritable bowel syndrome can lead to nutrient malabsorption due to the digestive system being damaged. So, how do we make sure we absorb all our food? Turn off the T.V, put aside your work and sit down at the table! We want all our energy and focus to be on eating and digestion. If you’re on the go or distracted your body needs to focus its energy on sustaining you vs. digestion. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so chew and taste it!
2. Reestablish Gut Bacteria
Probiotics and fermented food are the key to reestablishing the good bacteria in your gut. To learn more about fermented foods click here.
3. Following an Anti-inflammatory Diet
Gut inflammation is the result of undigested food, so besides taking the time to chew and enjoy your food, following an anti-inflammatory diet can also play a role in having a healthy gut. In general aim for fresh food or one-ingredient foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, meat or dairy and minimize processed foods (anything between the aisles of a grocery store). Omega 3’s are also an anti-inflammatory nutrient, so try incorporating salmon, walnuts, chia seeds or flax seeds into your diet. Another amazing anti-inflammatory food is turmeric, so try adding this fabulous spice to soups, stews or stir fries.