I´ve had a challenging year, I think all of us have, and there have been times where I don’t mind admitting, the anxiety, fear and low mood have appeared.
Most of the clients I speak to experience these symptoms. What is going on? Yes, it can be related to external factors that are happening around us (and this year, more than ever!), but that is only ever the trigger. Anxiety and low-mood are signs that our brain chemistry is out of balance.
You have probably heard of the neurotransmitters, serotonin is a well-known example, the feel-good neurotransmitters, but there are over 50, like GABA, dopamine and acetylcholine. Your body makes them all, but it needs the right raw materials to do that, it also needs the right machinery to create them, and all that, comes from your diet. For them to act, they need to lock onto your cell membranes, so we need the structure of those to be strong and supple, which means having the right balance of fatty acids in your diet.
Then there is your gut, did you know 90% of your serotonin is made in your gut? So is it any surprise that your gut plays a huge role in your mental health?
Or to be more precise, your microbiome, that collection of bacteria are BIG influencers on your brain chemistry.
A study in Nature (probably the best-respected science journal in the world) said
“ the microbiome may yield a new class of psychobiotic for the treatment of anxiety, depression and other mood disorders”
That’s amazing, basically, they are predicting that changes to our microbiome may provide treatment offers for those disorders. And you know how you can influence your microbiome? ….I am sure you can guess what´s coming next……
Your diet and lifestyle is this biggest influencer on your microbiome.
The food choices you make, influence the makeup of the microbiome in a matter of hours.
This isn´t just about having enough protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. What defines a “good” microbiome, one that is going to support your brain chemistry, is DIVERSITY. We need to have a wide variety of bacterial species. The only way to have that is to have diversity in your diet, diversity of fibre types and diversity of phytonutrients.
I could literally talk about this for hours and in fact, I do, in my Food for Thought programme (more of that later), but here are some simple tips that will help you a really simple thing for you
• Fast overnight for 12 hours as this helps the “housekeeping” in your gut and microbiome. If you have a lot of anxiety I don’t recommend fasting for any longer until the anxiety reduces.
• How colourful is your diet? Are meals always the same colour? Im not just talking beige, if you are eating green vegetables, but they are always the same ones, add some different coloured vegetables in, add one each day and by the end of the week, you have all the colours of the rainbow.
• How much fibre are you eating? Most people, even if they are on a “good” diet, eat less than 30g fibre a day. Use my fibre list below for some ideas. Maybe track your fibre for a week with a free online food calculator, it’s a good awareness exercise!
• For more inspiration on better foods for the brain download my free list here.
If you are interested in looking into this further, I will host a free masterclass on Tuesday 6th October where I will share more about my online programme Food for Thought. You can register for free here.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and questions.
In health and happiness
Thinking from the Gut. By Charles Schmidt https://www.nature.com/articles/518S13a
Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Lawrence et al https://www.nature.com/articles/nature12820