Gut feeling: how your stomach talks to your brain

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You know that saying, “gut feeling”? Turns out, it’s not just a phrase people use when they’re trying to make a decision.

Your gut, the place where your food goes after you eat, has a lot to do with how you feel mentally.

Yep, it’s connected to your brain and can even affect your mood and stress levels. Let’s break it down in simple terms.

The Busy World Inside Your Belly

First off, let’s get one thing straight—your gut is not empty. It’s like a busy city filled with tiny creatures called microbes, also known as gut bacteria.

They help digest food, but that’s not all. Believe it or not, these tiny guys send signals to your brain through something called the “gut-brain axis.”

In one study from University College Cork, researchers found that people who had certain types of gut bacteria were also more likely to feel stressed, anxious, or depressed.

On the flip side, people with different types of bacteria seemed happier and more relaxed.

Foods That Make Your Gut (and Brain) Happy

So, if you want to be in a good mood, you need to keep your gut bacteria happy. How? Through what you eat!

Good Choices:

  • Fruits and Veggies: Especially those high in fiber like apples, bananas, and carrots. Fiber helps good bacteria grow.
  • Yogurt and Fermented Foods: Think Greek yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. These foods are rich in probiotics, which are basically good bacteria for your gut.
  • Lean Proteins: Chicken, fish, and plant-based proteins like beans and tofu are good for you and easy for your gut to handle.

Foods to Avoid:

  • High Sugar and Processed Foods: Foods high in sugar can mess up your gut’s ecosystem, leading to mood swings.
  • Too Much Red Meat: It’s harder to digest and can lead to inflammation in the gut, which is a no-no for mental wellness.

Talk to a Pro Before Making Changes

While the link between gut health and mental wellness is exciting, don’t jump into drastic diet changes without talking to a healthcare provider first, especially if you’re dealing with mental health issues.

The gut-brain connection is a hot research topic, but it’s still new. Your healthcare provider can give you personalized advice.

So, the next time you get a “gut feeling” about something, remember that it might be more than just a saying.

Your gut and your brain are in constant conversation, and what you feed one can affect the other. Making good food choices isn’t just about keeping your body healthy; it’s also about keeping your mind happy.

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