You Think What You Eat…Wait, What?

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You’ve heard the old adage: you are what you eat. Studies into the biochemistry of our stomachs and gut bacteria have helped us to realize that the food we eat is more than just fuel for physical energy- it can create emotional energy and even affect our mood. Probiotics are extremely popular right now for this reason: science states that a happy tummy equals a happy person. New research suggests that not only are we what we eat, but we also think what we eat. Our stomachs affect our physical health, heart health, emotional health, and the health of our brains.

Link Between Gut and Brain

For The Big Think, Dr. Helene M. Savignac explains that, “Scientists are now revealing that there is a strong link between what happens in the gut and the brain. The bacteria that reside in the gut appear to play an important role and are able to communicate with the central nervous system notably through neural, endocrine, and immune pathways.” Simply stated, by manipulating the bacteria in the gut, doctors might be able to reduce stress, change mood, and affect specific brain processes including the malleable cognitive functioning.

According to the article, we consume both good and bad bacteria. Bad bacterias come after finishing antibiotics (coincidentally, pro-gut bacteria supplements are called probiotics), bacteria from undercooked or contaminated food, and bacteria which forms after a surgery. When the body is working with either good or bad bacteria, it is undergoing a constant relationship and communication between the body and the brain. For example microbial compounds can be communicating with the brain through the vagus nerve. The stomach can even release certain hormones which communicate to the brain through the bloodstream.

Balanced Diet Important

For healthy gut to brain correspondence, it is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet which contains both probiotic and prebiotic nutrients. Foods can include:

  • Yogurt (with active cultures)
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso and Miso Soup
  • Kombucha
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Dandelion Greens
  • And many more

Focusing on improving digestive health is not usually an area of wellness many concern themselves with. However, it is one of the most critically important. A balanced diet should be met with regular exercise and meditation for comprehensive wellness.