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Food & Mood Connection: How Food Affects Your Mental Health

Have you ever been told to “listen to your gut”? If you wondered why anyone would tell you to listen to something that doesn’t actually speak, it turns out that it’s great advice. But maybe not for the reasons you think. 

New research studies continue to confirm the connection between the health of your gut, or your digestive system, and your overall health. 

The connection has become known as the brain-gut connection, the mind-gut connection, or, more poetically, the food & mood connection. 

What is the Food & Mood Connection?

Your digestive system controls a massive population (250 million times more than the population of earth) of gut bacteria.

Their job is to break down the foods you eat so the nutrients they carry can be absorbed. They also affect the production of neurotransmitters, which carry important messages between your gut and brain. Messages that help keep you healthy.

But, just like with earth’s human population, there are good bacteria and bad bacteria. Good bacteria have a positive effect on neurotransmitter production and bad bacteria have a negative effect.

Eating a healthy diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids helps the growth of good bacteria. But a low-nutrient diet high in refined carbohydrates, like sugar, and unhealthy fats, promotes inflammation which can work against the production of healthy bacteria.

When your gut is healthy, not only does it improve your physical health, but your brain gets lots of positive signals from your neurotransmitters. All the good news can actually affect your mood and stave off mental health issues like depression and anxiety. 

But if you have poor dietary patterns, you will have less physical and mental energy, and it will be more difficult to improve your mood or fight bouts of anxiety and depression.

To make sure you adopt the right eating patterns for good gut health, and to promote healthy, long-term weight loss, visit your nearest Herbal One location and talk to one of our nutrition counsellors.

To learn more about a healthy gut, check out our article “How to Improve Your Gut Health”.

 

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