So not one of those topics that most people are generally willing to talk about…their gut health!
I have recently been doing more research into how your gut microflora (both good and bad bacteria) can effect your mood and I have been pretty shocked about how imbalances within our gut can have a HUGE affect on mental well being! In fact, 95% of seretonin (the happy hormone) is found within the gut and dysbiosis (which is an overgrowth of bad bacteria) can actually negatively impact the signalling of seretonin.
Loads of research is currently being completed on the association between the gut and the brain and I feel over the next few years we will hopefully find out much more about how our gut health can impact of not only our physical, but also mental wellbeing.
Although I haven’t really had a huge issue with my gut, through a free stool test being offered to my University by ‘Regenerus Labs’ I have recently had a more ‘in depth’ (shall we say) overview of how healthy my gut it. I would like to think that my balanced/ varied/ low processed diet would mean that all would be fine with my healthy gut bugs, but I was quite surprised to find that a few of my ‘good bacteria’ strains were lower than normal. One of these bacteria which is lower than normal is Enterococcus which has also been found to produce serotonin!! I am pretty dam happy at the moment but imagine the possibilities if my army of Enterococcus was at full strength! 🙂 🙂
So what am I going to do about this? I am going to continue to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and to keep my intake of sugar as low as possible. I am going to dig out my probiotics from the back of the fridge (my good intentions were short lived when I initially bought them) and try to introduce a variety of fermented foods/ drinks into my diet.
Foods such as:
- Sauerkraut- fermented cabbage
- Kimchi- like sauerkraut but may contain different types of vegetables and often some type of dried or fermented fish product
- Kefir- cultured dairy product similar to yogurt
- Kombucha- Natural fermented drink
Not only will these fermented foods increase the beneficial microflora in the gut, but as they produce enzymes through the fermentation process, they are extremely helpful for improving nutrient absorption of the foods we eat.
Hopefully with being a little more gut TLC, my beneficial bacteria will be as they should and although the importance of this is still quite a mystery within the scientific world, I am pretty sure that with gut microflora having 150 times as many genes as the human genome (all the genetic information in a person), doing this is going to have a pretty good impact on my physical and mental well being.