You will likely have heard of your gut being referred to as your second brain, but have you ever wondered why?
Your gut and your brain are linked by neurotransmitters, nerves and complex feedback loops. The vagus nerve represents the superhighway of this communication, and psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression may have some connection to issues starting in the gut.
What you eat impacts how your brain works and one way this is mediated is through the role of the gut microbiota. Loss in the overall diversity and the balance of microbial species is caused by poor lifestyle habits like a highly processed diet, sedentary behaviour, toxin exposure, sleep disturbance, stress and circadian rhythm disruption.
Food is medicine – think of it like this – what, how and when you eat are opportunities to optimise your brain, how it works and ultimately how you feel. If you can fix the gut you can go some way to fixing the brain.
One key way to optimise your brain is by increasing an important circulating protein called BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which acts like brain fertiliser encouraging new brain cell growth and new connections. You can support BDNF by focussing on your gut health with the following easy daily tips:
- Consume Omega 3 fatty acids either through fish or supplementation
- Eat a handful of nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds) every day
- Consume anthocyanins – plant nutrients found in berries
- Ensure adequate zinc intake with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, oysters
- Increase your fibre intake by eating whole fruits and vegetables – this sustains your gut bugs
- Add fermented foods in to your diet and include a food-based probiotic like the Akesi tonic range.
- Consciously include prebiotics – a special fibre that fuels the beneficial gut bugs – found in beans, legumes, oats, green banana, garlic and onions or choose a probiotic supplement that includes prebiotic fibre such as the Akesi Probiotic+ range.
- Enjoy a daily 20 minute walk- movement and exercise helps to switch on BDNF
It’s really important that we pay attention to what is going on in the gut as it directly impacts what goes on in the brain. Taking the above simple steps each day will go a long way to making you think and feel better.