The gut-brain connection is all about nourishing the microbiome to keep the GI tract happy and the mind at ease. The GI tract is made up of 100 million nerve cells, which is why it affectionately earns the title of "the 2nd brain". This is evidenced by the familiar feelings of "an anxious belly", "a gut feeling", "butterflies in the stomach". The mind is powerful and so is the gut!
Here are 4 ways to nourish both:
Set the stage -- in an earlier blog post, I talked about the 2 states of the nervous system: Sympathetic AKA fight or flight and Parasympathetic AKA rest and digest. In order to get nourishment from our food, we have to be in a parasympathetic state. Some ways to get there are easy and enjoyable! Sit, breathe, laugh, smell your food, be thankful! See my Set The Stage blog post for more ideas!
Good Mood Food -- I'm always a fan of ice cream after a rough day, but these types of foods this list of foods might be a bit different than what you are thinking. These foods feed our biochemistry to produce more good mood hormones and endorphins.
Brazil Nuts -- high in selenium, which helps prevent anxiety, depression, and fatigue. And you only need 3 a day!
Omega 3s -- found in fatty fish, like mackerel, sardines, and salmon. Eating enough omega 3s helps treat depression and helps prevent other mood disorders like bipolar and schizophrenia.
Lentils -- high in tryptophan, which helps make serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in our brain that fosters good moods and plays a role in attention span.
Turkey -- is also high in tryptophan. You may be familiar with the sleepy sensation that comes when you eat too much tryptophan.
Oats -- low glycemic index, which means it does spike your blood sugar. Oats have a low glycemic index because they have a good amount of fiber. Eat fat, fiber, and protein will each meal to keep blood sugar stable.
Dark Chocolate -- everybody's favorite good mood food! Dark chocolate produces endorphins in the brain, which in turn boosts our mood. Get dark chocolate that is at least 70% dark.
Nourish The Heart -- the best part about nourishing the gut is nourishing the heart. Not the anatomical heart, but the emotional one. Do something that brings you joy, peace, and happiness. Have a mindfulness practice. Take 10 minutes for yourself every day. Tune in next week for my Recipe for Emotional Health Cocktail.
Food for You -- lastly, eat food that feels good for your specific, unique, beautiful GI tract. Just because a food is "healthy" doesn't mean your body likes it. Listen to your body when you eat and honor the signals. At QCNH, I offer Food Intolerance Evaluations, which I am happy to provide if you know there are certain foods that upset your stomach but are unsure what they are. Click here for more.