Have you noticed that when you’re stressed or anxious, our gut acts up? There’s a reason for that. And it’s not a new revelation.
Way back in the 19th century, Charles Darwin recognized that emotions directly affected the gut.
Although most of the communication between our brain and gut goes from the gut to the brain (when we eat poorly, it affects our thinking), there is also communication that goes from the brain to the gut (when we don’t feel good emotionally, out gut acts up).
What’s causing all this? What we eat has a lot to do with it.
Most of us have heard the hype about prebiotics and probiotics. As it turns out, it’s not just hype.
Prebiotics: A 2014 study showed lowered cortisol (stress hormone) levels and reduced anxiety after only three weeks of introducing prebiotics into their diet.
Probiotics: A 2013 study showed a significant reduction in brain activation to negative emotional stimuli after introducing probiotics over four weeks.
Want more inspiration for eating better?
- A 2015 study following over 15,000 adults for ten years showed that diets high in vegetables and low in sugar and processed food might protect us from depression.
- A 2015 study of 960 80-85-year-old adults following the MIND diet showed higher cognitive scores, with the difference in mental age being approximately 7.5 years.
- An unhealthy diet can lead to brain atrophy. Researchers found that 62% of the decline was due to diet.
- There is some evidence that long-term restriction of calories, either by consuming 20%-40% fewer calories or via intermittent fasting, may stimulate cognitive functioning and neurogenesis.
- And it goes the other way too. A meta-analysis of 41 studies of nearly 2,300 participants showed that overall, individuals who received psychotherapy had a more significant reduction in GI symptoms after the psychotherapy than 75% of those who didn’t receive the psychotherapy.
Phew! Lots of information here. But it boils down to a couple of things:
- What you eat affects your brain.
- What you think affects your gut.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What are you willing to try to maintain a better brain-gut relationship?
- What can you eat to stave off depressive symptoms?
- What can you eat to stimulate new brain neuron growth?
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