Have you ever experienced any kind of gut issue? Maybe it’s been as simple as feeling bloated after one too many sugary treats, or it’s been as serious as constant pain from a food intolerance.
Either way, most of us know this isn’t a good time for our tummy, but think harder: when you’ve experienced bloating, gas, stomach cramps or another kind of gut issue, how did you feel mentally? Chances are you felt upset, frustrated, embarrassed and not interested in doing anything that involves going outside or seeing people.
There is plenty of scientific evidence linking a healthy gut to a healthy, happy mind - especially if you’re forced to deal with an uncomfortable gut issue on a daily basis, and can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. An unhappy gut can affect your ability to deal with stress, it restricts the “feel-good” chemicals in your body, and really challenges your self-esteem and confidence.
These are all things we kept in mind when creating our Sparkling Prebiotic Drink and Sparkling Probiotic Drink ranges. We packed our recipes with billions of live cultures from raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar, organic chicory root, the most powerful strains of live probiotics, as well as vitamins and electrolytes, to give you the best chance of achieving a healthy gut and therefore, a healthy mind!
To explain the link a bit more and provide some expert tips, we invited back our good friend Steph Wearne, nutritionist from Body Good Food.
So Steph, what’s the science linking a healthy gut to a healthy mind?
To keep it simple, the gut and brain are connected via the vagus nerve. Important messages about what is going on in the body are picked up via the gut and sent to the brain to stimulate action.
People who experience gut issues such as IBS or other inflammatory issues also experience higher rates of depression and anxiety so there is no denying there is a link here.
How can gut issues affect our mood, happiness, sleep, confidence and all of those important things?
Research is still looking into the intrinsic details of this link but it makes sense that any issues with the gut could alter the messaging that gets sent to the brain and in turn, alter the messages and actions of the brain.
Furthermore, 95% of our happy hormone, serotonin, is produced in the gut, so if you don’t have a healthy gut then serotonin production could be compromised too.
What are a couple of ways we can improve our gut health, and ultimately, our mind?
Improving gut health can be done via nutrition where the best foods that have been shown to produce healthy microbes is one full of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, yoghurt, dairy, nuts, seeds and fish, due the fatty acid profile and high levels of antioxidants, polyphenols and fibre in these foods.
You can also look to add in small amounts of fermented products such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, miso and tempeh for an added boost.
Prebiotics from onion, garlic, leek, asparagus, artichoke, tempeh, miso, banana, chicory root, oats, barley and flaxseeds are also helpful as is resistant starch from legumes, green bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, al dente (or slightly undercooked) pasta.
Lastly, eating mindfully is also helpful for gut health as it allows our body to put energy into the digestive process and ensures the breakdown and absorption of nutrients is happening optimally.