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Care of Gut-Brain Health

Listen to your Gut! You are what you eat!

Are you too frazzled? Do you feel butterflies in your stomach when you are facing a tough time? Do you notice? When you eat something delicious it brings a joy of fulfillment throughout your mind to your whole body; your brain to your tummy!

Have you any idea why this happens to you? Because the gut influences our feelings of hunger and fullness. Our gut has a deep interrelationship with our brain and communicates with one another all the time which is a biological circuit called Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis. This connection is conducted physically (i.e., the vagus nerve) and biochemically (i.e., neurotransmitters) in both ways through the media of trillions of microorganisms (i.e., bacteria and fungi) which are living inside our gut. So, when we are stressed our gut also gets upset easily. But enough microbial diversity present in the gut can improve brain health by reducing stress, anxiety and depression like behavioral impairments.

Gut microbes live along our digestive tract and have a significant impact on how our whole body functions in terms of metabolism, immune system and brain function. On the other hand, a microbial imbalance (dysbiosis) may lead to modifications of their metabolic activities and functional composition. In Consequence, many other systems such as brain health and the immunity power of the body will be positively affected by improving gut health. 

Below, are summarized science-based 3 nutritional habits which help to improve the amount of microbial diversity in gut and brain health.

1. Intake of Potential Biotics:

Probiotics- live bacteria and yeast which can colonize the gut microbiome and provide health benefits when eaten. Probiotic cultures contained in fermented products (i.e. kefir and probiotic yogurt) and probiotic supplements may help the gut microbiome to recover to a healthy state after a dysbiosis phase. 

Prebiotics- a fermentable dietary fiber that promotes the growth of healthy gut microbiota. Artichokes, bananas, asparagus, garlic, onion, seeds, legumes, wheat, rice, oats, milk, etc., all are prebiotic rich foods.

Synbiotics- a combination of probiotics and prebiotics that have a beneficial effect on the host by improving the survival and activity of beneficial microorganisms in the gut. Consuming natural yogurt (made with known probiotic cultures) with added whole-grain cereals/granola or fermented kefir (probiotic beverage) with added pieces of fruit are examples of synbiotics that can be a healthy choice for our daily meal.

Fermented Foods- taking fermented food daily increased overall gut microbiota diversity while reducing inflammation. Even fermented tubers, roots and leafy vegetables have better digestibility than raw ones which are beneficial for human gut health. Low-sugar fermented foods present in regular meals, such as sauerkraut, plain yogurt, etc., have a positive effect on our brain activity.

2. Cutting Out Artificial Sweeteners: 

According to a recent clinical trial, there is evidence that non-nutritive sweeteners can disrupt a healthy person’s gut microbiome and reduce glucose tolerance. For example, aspartame raises blood glucose by boosting the growth of unhealthy bacteria such as Enterobacteriaceae in the gut microbiome. So, a minimum amount of artificial sweeteners cut out from your regular meal may positively affect your gut health. An interesting finding from recent research discovered that our gut’s neuropod cells can distinguish between natural and artificial sweetening agents.

3. Take Less Antibiotics: 

Without a doctor’s suggestion taking antibiotics is harmful for gut health. Antibiotics kill not only harmful but also many good bacteria in the gut microbiome, potentially contributing to antibiotic resistance and dysbiosis. In that case, taking higher levels of prebiotics and probiotics supplements may help recuperate and restore your gut microbiome.

Labanna Paul Antara
Fitness Nutritionist

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