Mental Health and the Gut Microbiome

Interestingly, scientific studies have shown a connection between our brain development and the bacteria found in our gut, known as the gut microbiome. The question is: what can we do to improve our levels of healthy gut bacteria? In this article, we explore the connection between the brain and the gut microbiome.

What is the gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of tiny microorganisms that live in your digestive system. These microorganisms mainly consist of bacteria, which play an important role in food digestion, as well as having involvement in other key processes such as metabolism, body weight, immune regulation, brain functions and mood.

Every person’s gut microbiome is slightly different, as it is based on our environment, habits, stress levels, and the foods we eat.

Gut bacteria and our mental health

So is there a connection between our diets, our gut bacteria and our mental health? This is what the Food and Mood Centre, run by Deakin University, discovered:

“Eating highly processed junk food has been shown to be associated with a smaller hippocampus – a critical part of your brain that is responsible for learning and memory, as well as regulating mood. It can also encourage a constant, low level of inflammation throughout your body. These are risk factors for mental illness, and the gut bacteria may play a role as a messenger between an unhealthy diet and the regulation of your mood.”

How to improve the health of your gut microbiome

While there are many different factors that influence your gut microbiome – including your environment, stress levels, and amount of sleep and exercise – the foods you eat (or don’t eat!) naturally play an important part.

  • Here are a few simple suggestions for increasing levels of healthy bacteria in your gut:
  • Cut down on sugary and highly processed foods.
  • Eat more vegetables, particularly leafy greens, radishes, leeks, artichokes and garlic.
  • Opt for low-sugar fruits, such as berries, kiwi, grapefruit and watermelon.
  • Include fermented foods in your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kefir and yoghurt.
  • Take a probiotic, which can help to maintain your gut’s ecosystem.

How Hit 100 can help

Supported by your NDIS funding, Hit 100’s meal delivery service is a great option to support you and your family in maintaining a healthy diet. Check out our delicious menu and get in touch today to discover how we can help!

References

Deakin University, Food and Mood Centre. (2017) Diet and the Gut Microbiota. Retrieved from http://foodandmoodcentre.com.au/diet-and-the-gut-microbiota/

O’Bryan, T. (2017). The Autoimmune Fix. New York, NY: Rodale Inc.

Perlmutter, D. (2015) Brain Maker: The power of gut microbes to heal and protect your brain - for life.