The foods you eat can directly affect your mood. Our brains have the ability to make new pathways based on our thoughts, emotions, environment (including food) and behaviors. Our mood is also affected by our gut health. Serotonin is believed to help balance the mood and a lack of it leads to depression. About 90-95% of serotonin is produced in the gut, so it’s imperative to have a healthy microbiome for mental and emotional well being.
Follow the guidelines below to promote brain and gut health!
- Focus on vegetables, fruits and whole grains
Choosing whole, natural sources of produce and grains will provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to support the brain and gut, while the fiber will support healthy bacteria in the intestines.
- Decrease trans and saturated fats
Trans fats are typically found in processed and baked goods. Saturated fats are found in fatty animal products such as bacon and conventionally raised meats. Opt for leaner cuts such as sirloin and tenderloin and choose grass fed meat and wild caught fish more often.
- Increase healthy fats
Aim to eat fatty fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel two to three times per week or supplement with 1-3 grams of an EPA/DHA fish oil product. Include nuts, seeds, avocados and olives at meals or snacks.
- Control blood sugar and avoid excess alcohol
Limit processed foods and added sugar to promote brain health, reduce inflammation and limit the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
Other important lifestyle factors include having an active social life, not smoking, sleeping 7-9 hours each night and reducing stress.