The Gut-Brain axis: How our diets impact our mental health
You may have heard the old adage “You are what you eat.” As it turns out, there may be some truth to the saying when it comes to your diet’s impact on your brain and mental health.
The Gut-Brain Axis (or GBA) involves the interaction between the central and enteric nervous systems, which in simpler terms links the brain centers which control emotion and cognition to your intestinal functions. There has been significant research into this relationship recently, and there is evidence to suggest that the interaction between your gut microbiota and your brain runs both ways (i.e that the bacteria in your gut affects your brain, and vice versa.)
Research into the GBA began as an exploration of unbalanced gut microbiomes being more prevalent in people with nervous disorders such as anxiety and depression.
What does this mean for me?
In order to keep your physical and mental health in the best shape possible, it’s important to recognize the impact of the GBA. What you put into your body interacts with your nervous system, and maintaining a balanced gut microbiota is an important and often overlooked aspect of keeping your brain in balance.
Current research suggests that a diet focusing on whole foods, including whole grains, lean meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables. Avoiding sugary and highly processed foods is also important.
You should also give the healthy gut bacteria, viruses, and fungi that help you to maintain balanced functioning the foods that will bolster their health and growth. This means incorporating prebiotics, typically found in fibrous food like bananas, asparagus, garlic, onions, and jicama. You can also eat more of the helpful bacteria, by taking in probiotics such as those found in yogurt, apple cider vinegar, and kombucha.
Keeping an eye on your gut health and being intentional and conscious about your food choices is backed by clinical research and can make a huge difference in your overall health and well being.