Your gut health and brain health are related.
Have you ever noticed your stomach “in knots”? Or can you recall times when you had a “gut feeling” about something or someone, although you couldn’t find a logical reason behind it? There is a reason why our gut is very sensitive. It is the home to our enteric nervous system.
The enteric nervous system is often referred to as our second brain. It is separate from our central nervous system and it has more nerve cells than our spinal cord. To get a more relatable image, it is comparable in size to a cat’s brain. While our gut “brain” cannot do calculus or plan our vacations, it is very intelligent. One of its functions is to aid our digestion while another one is communicating to our brain.
Food and mental health
The gut and brain connection is undoubted and will continue to be subject to a lot of research. This clearly means that the food we eat can very likely contribute to our moods, and even anxiety and depression. Furthermore, research has shown that food can also alter the expression of our DNA.
That’s why I want you think of the food you eat as not only calories or protein or carbs. Think of food you eat as information.
Improve your gut brain connection
In today’s busy lifestyle, preparing food has become for many an inconvenience. Here are a few tips on how you can improve the information you offer your gut, and with that, to your brain.
Avoid processed foods as much as possible. I suggest that you stay away from genetically modified food or produce that has been exposed to large doses of pesticides. Purchasing produce from local farms during the growing season is one of the best ways to get cleaner food. It is also gives you the chance to get to know the farmers and their approach to growing your food
Eat easily digestible foods.
I believe in eating a small amount of animal protein and a diet that consists mainly of plant based food. Lightly steam vegetables, bake root vegetables, minimize wheat (toast the bread to make it easier on your digestion), add sauerkraut, rice, home roasted nuts (you can roast nuts on a lower temperature in your oven), and include healthy fats in your diet (olive oil, cold pressed avocado oil). You don’t want to overload your digestive system.
Be present when you eat
If you are tempted to read your favourite magazine or check your Facebook feed while eating, I suggest you stop. Turn off TV and radio when eating. Be present for your food with all your senses and taste every bite you take.
Make food preparation and eating into a social event.
Get together with family and friends as often as possible to make and eat food. Food tastes so much better when we eat with company. Take time to eat at least one meal during your work week with family, and as often as possible during your weekends.
Improve the ambiance.
I eat with soothing music playing in the background. There is nothing more pleasing than smelling and tasting a freshly cooked meal with another person (or a pet), and celebrating life.