Most of us have at some point or another experienced stomach pains when stressed or nervous, felt an excited buzz in our bellies when looking forward to something or been told to trust our gut. That’s no coincidence – the way our brains communicate with our stomachs has been well documented. And, just as stress and other psychological factors affect the health of our gut, the balance of our gut flora has a significant impact on how we feel mentally. An imbalance in our gut flora can lead to all sorts of different mental health issues. In this article, we take a look at how anti-inflammatory foods and the right vitamins can produce happy bellies and happy brains.
The bacteria we have in our gut affect our brain
Although the stomach and the brain are located in quite different parts of the body, and have entirely different primary functions, the impact they have on each other is quite significant. When we’re stressed and our brains are out of step, this affects the health of our gut. Equally, our brain can be affected by a lack of harmony in our gut flora. The belly and the brain communicate with one another via the so-called gut-brain axis which includes the nervous system, circulatory system and immune system. Researchers have observed that the roughly 2 kg of microbes we have in our gut flora have a significant impact on this belly-to-brain communication.
Studies conducted on mice show that mice who don’t have a healthy and balanced gut flora, show signs of anxiety and depression. Other studies, conducted on humans, show that an imbalance in the gut flora can cause symptoms similar to those observed in patients with depression, autism and schizophrenia. There are also a number of studies that have identified differences in gut bacteria between healthy people and people with depression, autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and Parkinson’s disease, for example.
An anti-inflammatory diet establishes balance in the gut flora
When we are under a lot of stress, eat processed food or follow a sedentary lifestyle, this upsets the balance in our gut flora. The good bacteria in the gut become weaker and fewer in number, leaving more room for the bad bacteria. These nasty bacteria can lead to inflammation in the body, and can also have a negative impact on how our brains feel. A good way to take care of our gut flora and to nourish the good bacteria in our gut is to eat anti-inflammatory foods.
Anti-inflammatory foods are exactly what they sound like – foods that help to suppress and prevent inflammations in the body. So-called acute inflammation, which usually manifest as redness or swelling, is not harmful and is simply the body’s natural way of defending itself against threats posed by chemicals, for example. What is harmful, however, is low-grade or chronic inflammation that lies in wait in our bodies. Festering over a long period of time and potentially leading to illnesses. Eating anti-inflammatory foods is a good way to suppress low-grade inflammations and keep it at bay.
How to get anti-inflammatory foods into your diet
An anti-inflammatory diet is largely plant-based and, in other words, full of useful fibres, vitamins and antioxidants. Together with boosting your body with all these anti-inflammatory goodies, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that can cause inflammations in the body to increase, such as processed food, sugars and trans fats.
There are loads of great, anti-inflammatory foods out there that you can indulge in to nourish both your body and your gut flora. Fill your plate with greens, fruits and berries, nuts, seeds, gluten-free cereals like amaranth, sorghum and quinoa, legumes, fermented foods like kimchi, and wild-caught fish. And why not season with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices like turmeric, cayenne pepper, cloves and Ceylon cinnamon. Have a look at our recipes for inspiration, or download our favourite smoothie recipes.
Avoiding inflammatory foods is also a good idea. This includes foods that contain sugars and refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice and pasta, fried or grilled meat, smoked and processed meat, hardened fats like margarine, gluten and dairy products.
Our brains need Vitamin B to feel good
In addition to a healthy, balanced and anti-inflammatory diet that keeps our gut flora balanced, getting Vitamin B is important for the functioning of our brains. Vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 all play an important role in the health of our brains and deficiencies of these vitamins are associated with conditions such as dementia and depression. Research shows that people with low levels of folic acid and Vitamin B12 are twice as likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s. B Vitamins, and especially folic acid, help to reduce levels of homocysteine. Excessively high levels of homocysteine are harmful for our brains and can lead to depression and dementia.
You can find Vitamin B12 in fish, meat, shellfish, eggs, liver, milk and cheese, but also in fermented products like kimchi, kefir and kombucha – which are also anti-inflammatory. Potatoes, grains and berries are great sources of Vitamin B6, while folic acid can be found in all dark greens, cabbages, beans, chickpeas, lentils, fruits and berries.
A supplement for your gut health
Want more energy and less bloating? It might be time to take better care of your gut. To strengthen or restore the balance in your gut flora, it's important you feed your gut with a daily dose of pre- and probiotics. A healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is usually sufficient. If you want an extra boost or make sure you get a daily dose of good bacteria, you can complement your diet with a supplement.
Why should you take Synbiotic15?
A daily dose of Synbiotic15 helps to boost your immune system, improve your digestion, prevent inflammation, strengthen your gut flora, improve your skin and take care of simple stomach problems. It's a powdered mix of 4 patented lactic acid bacteria and 4 grams of prebiotic fibres, which act as food for the good bacteria. Based on over 15 years of research, developed in Sweden and 100% natural.
Add it to your daily (morning) routine and stir it in water, mix it with your smoothie, or take it as is! Get started today. Buy Synbiotic15 now.