A healthy gut is needed for a a healthy brain. Your brain’s health is dictated by what goes on in your gut. What’s taking place in your intestines affects not only your brain’s daily functions, but also determines your risk for a number of neurological conditions in the future.
The gut’s brain makes more serotonin — the master happiness molecule — than the brain in your head. Many neurologists and psychiatrists are now realizing that dietary changes are so important in treating depression.
So lets look at 5 ways you can boost your brain through your gut.
- Take Probiotics Every Day
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that support good digestive health. Long before probiotics became available in supplement form, the health benefits of fermented, probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt were well recognized. The Chinese were fermenting -cabbage 6,000 years ago. These probiotic bacteria help maintain the integrity of the gut lining; serve as natural antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals; regulate immunity; and control inflammation. I take a Probiotic supplement every day to boost my microbiome.
2. Go Lower-Carb and Higher Quality Fats
A diet that keeps your blood sugar balanced keeps your gut bacteria balanced. A diet high in rich sources of fiber from whole vegetables feeds good gut bacteria and produces the right balance of short-chain fatty acids to keep the intestinal lining in check. A diet that’s intrinsically anti-inflammatory is good for the brain. Consider my 7 Day Sugar Cleanse to get a jumpstart.
3. Enjoy Chocolate, Coffee, Wine, and Tea
You can rejoice in the fact that, as far as your brain’s health is concerned, you can embrace chocolate, coffee, and wine in moderation, and tea to your heart’s desire. Studies have shown that consuming flavonols (one category of polyphenols) from cocoa and chocolate showed heightened cognitive function. Coffee and chocolate also stimulate a specific gene pathway called the Nrf2 pathway. When triggered, it causes the body to make higher levels of protective antioxidants, while reducing inflammation and enhancing detoxification. Other Nrf2 activators are green tea, turmeric, and resveratrol, a compound in red wine.
4. Consume Foods Rich in Prebiotics
Prebiotics are food-borne fuel for the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut, and they occur naturally in raw garlic, cooked and raw onions, leeks, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, and jicama. Estimates suggest that for every 100 grams of prebiotic carbohydrates we consume, a full 30 grams of good gut bacteria are produced.
5. Drink Filtered Water
Consuming plenty of water is important to intestinal health, but it’s critical that the water doesn’t contain gut-busting chemicals like chlorine. Environmental toxins can disrupt the balance of flora (your microbiome) and disturb brain physiology.
Adapted from the book, Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, MD.