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  • Writer's picturea whole health life


Updated: Feb 11, 2020

Have you gotten to the WHY of the reason you care for your body well? For me, I have so many reasons WHY. We prioritize nourishing our bodies well in this family, and that does take time and energy. For example, often on the weekends, I'm making big granola batches or I'm roasting tons of veggies for the week ahead or planning out some meals (I need to get better at that!).

One of my reasons WHY is because I want to be here for my kids as they grow up - I want to give my health my all, even though I know I ultimately don't control my life. I want to do what I can to prevent cancer, heart disease and other potential ailments. I want to heal myself from Raynaud's disease. And one of my main reasons WHY is because eating GOOD FOOD allows for GOOD MOOD.

The food we put into our body absolutely impacts how we feel, and for me personally - this is so very true.

Over the years, I have learned to listen to my body. Not only how it feel directly after I eat certain foods, but also the overall feeling and energy I have throughout my days. Frankly, with a full life of momming and working, to me it seems I simply can't afford to NOT feel GOOD!

Why does food have such a strong impact on our mood? It actually goes beyond sugar crashes, etc. It goes beyond the immediate impact of eating something nourishing for our body and brain. Our gut, home of most of our microbiome, is a community of tens of trillions of microorganisms -- and when we take care of our gut health, we are absolutely taking care of our emotions.

Did you know that at least 90 - 95% of serotonin is synthesized in the gut? After serotonin is released from enterochromaffin cells in the lining of the gut, it flows to and binds to the receptors on nerve endings in the intestinal wall. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. The human gut is lined with 100 million nerve cells (it's essentially a brain itself), so it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions.

90 -95% of seratonin is synthesized in the gut. The human gut is lined with 100 million nerve cells, so it is essentially a brain itself. It has been coined our "second brain".

These neurons — and the production of serotonin — is highly influenced by the “good” bacteria that make up our intestinal microbiome. Ultimately, these bacteria play an essential role in your health -- which includes your mood. They protect the intestinal lining and ensure a strong barrier against toxins and “bad” bacteria. A healthy microbiome limits inflammation and allows for proper absorption of nutrients -- and nutrients are critical for mood, as well.

The notion that good bacteria not only influence digestion + absorption, but also inflammation, mood and energy level, is gaining traction among researchers. There are plenty of studies out there showing associated benefits of a healthy diet and improved mood. I think this area of research is going to explode in the coming years -- and the power of our food and the gut on our feelings. Our gut-brain axis truly offers us a great understanding of the connection between diet and disease -- which includes depression and anxiety.

When our gut isn't cared for, our mood can suffer. Of course I am not saying that gut health is the only player in mood and depression, but it absolutely is a major player. Just like always -- when taking into consideration our health - we have to think of the WHOLE person and picture. This is just one aspect, but an area that is so fascinating and important to understand.

A handful of studies if you want to read more:

Overall Tips for a Healthy Gut (and Improved Mood):

  • Focus on real food, rather than processed food, which is high in unnecessary (and often harmful) food additives and preservatives which disrupt the healthy bacteria in our gut. Foods high in fiber feed the good bacteria. Processed foods feed the bad bacteria.

  • If you like sugary beverages, begin phasing those out and replace them with water or herbal tea. The bad bacteria of course loves all that sugar.

  • Incorporate probiotic rich foods, if your gut can handle them (such as sauerkraut). Some of us may need to have blood work done if our gut is not well before we start eating or taking probiotics.

  • Shop the rainbow (all the colors!) of fresh fruits and vegetables, and consider choosing organic produce when possible. The chemicals in the pesticides are harmful to our guts and our bodies in a variety of ways.

  • Eat a diet high in fiber and minimize sugar when possible.

As I read through those -- it really is simple. More real foods and less processed foods. Our body thrives on what it was designed to eat. When we fill our tanks with the good stuff, our good bacteria thrive, and our mood can be improved. When we fill our tanks with processed and refined food (and other chemicals), we feed the bad bacteria and throw the symbiosis out of whack -- which ultimately impacts much of our health, including our mood.

For me, this is SO EMPOWERING! It doesn't have to be a set of rules to live by, but rather the understanding that we can positively impact our feelings just by what we eat. How amazing is that? Not to mention -- GOOD FOOD tastes good -- am I right?

Cheers all the goodness this week -- in our food and in our mood!

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