Following on from Mental Health Awareness Week (and Month) in May, I wanted to give you an overview of the information I shared throughout to help you make some small changes to your meals and mindset and hopefully improving how you feel.
We know that 1 in 3 of us will suffer from a mental health issue within our lifetimes so it is so important that we all take time to learn simple tips and tricks to give us the best chance possible to thrive.
Video 1: Watch it here
My first Instagram video looks deeper into the gut microbiome and why exactly it can impact out mood.
The main connection here really is that the gut can impact so many of our bodies systems such as our immune system, our digestion, metabolism and yes even our mood! The gut is responsible for creating 90% of our happy hormone serotonin along with other neurotransmitters like GABA and Dopamine which help us to relax and feel good.
Not only does the gut create these hormones but it also communicates with the brain through the millions of neurons placed within the large intestine. We are learning more and more about the information these neurons send but the signals to the brain includes how hungry we are, how we feel after eating certain food and even these feel good hormones.
This ‘second brain’ in our gut is communicating with our brain all the time, meaning that maybe our ‘gut instinct’ really can be explained. In fact, this instinct could potentially be coming from the BILLIONS of bacteria cells which actually outnumber human cells!
With these bacteria being so important it’s essential that we take care of them and allow them to flourish. Things we can do to support them includes:
- Increasing our fibre intake
- Reducing our refined sugar intake
- Eating fermented foods
- Reducing our stress
- Avoiding anti-biotics when not totally necessary.
We know that when we are stressed we tend to crave carbohydrate rich foods as these are the types of foods give us a hit of dopamine, a hormone that makes us feel good. When we reach for high fat, high sugar foods there is also an ‘opioid’ release into the brain which is the active ingredient of drugs such as cocaine and heroin. So yes, these foods really are addictive!
It is also clear that our gut microbiome can be influencing the foods that we crave. The reason for this is because our bad (pathogenic) bacteria generally uses sugar as its fuel and due to us now knowing our gut can send messages to the brain, it can mean that our pathogenic bacteria can trigger sweet cravings.
So alongside doing all we can to support the health of our gut (by following advice in video 1), video 2 goes into other things that we need to be aware of when we are trying to reduce comfort eating. These topics include:
- Ensuring that there are other things in your ‘toolbox’ to help deal with stress and emotions
- Making sure we eat enough in the first half of the day
- Making the most of food by remaining mindful
In video 3 I linked up with Lowri who is a wellbeing coach who is part of the EmpowerMe sisters. Lowri opens up about her past with anxiety and shares how she improved her mindset by working on changing her thought processes and introducing different stress reduction techniques.
In the video I share how I began to build a healthy relationship with food and my body using things like:
- Stopped counting calories
- Following intuitive eating principles
- Looking at social media content from a range of different body sizes
- Finding movement that makes me feel good rather than punishing my body
I hope you find this information helpful and of course, if you want more personalised nutrition advice that looks into further gut health testing, genetics and impacts of your lifestyle and any medication book into a free 20 minute discovery call to see whether we are the right fit to work together.
- Sender, R., Fuchs, S. and Milo, R., 2016. Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body. PLOS Biology, 14(8), p.e1002533.
- Jandhyala, S., 2015. Role of the normal gut microbiota. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 21(29), p.8787.
- Valdes, A et al., 2018. Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. BMJ, p.k2179.
- Alcock, J., Maley, C. and Aktipis, C., 2014. Is eating behavior manipulated by the gastrointestinal microbiota? Evolutionary pressures and potential mechanisms. BioEssays, 36(10), pp.940-949.
- Jetro J. Tuulari, Lauri Tuominen, Femke E. de Boer, Jussi Hirvonen, Semi Helin, Pirjo Nuutila, Lauri Nummenmaa. Feeding Releases Endogenous Opioids in Humans. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2017; 37 (34): 8284 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0976-17.2017
- Gluck ME, Geliebter A, Hung J, Yahav E. Cortisol, Hunger, and desire to binge eat following a cold stress test in women with binge eating disorder. Psychosom Med. 2004;66:876–81.
- Goldsmith R, Joanisse D, Gallagher D, Pavlov K, Shamoon E, Leibel RL, et al. Effects of experimental weight perturbation on skeletal work efficiency, fuel utilization, and biochemistry in human subjects. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2010;298:R79–88. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00053.2009.