Food, Mood, and Your Microbiome
There is now overwhelming evidence that the bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract, the gut microbiome, plays a major role in our mood and behavior.
Knowing that what we eat is the primary determinate of the state of our gut microbes, European scientists performed an in-depth review of past studies looking at diet, mood, and gut microbes. Their ultimate goal was to provide evidenced-based diet recommendations for those with depression or at risk for depression. Their final advice? “Patients with depression or vulnerability to depression should be encouraged to eat a plant-based diet with a high content of fiber-rich whole grains, vegetables, and fish.”
The fiber in whole grains and vegetables provides the preferred food for mood-enhancing gut bacteria—boosting their activity and vitality. In addition, plant-based
foods, especially brightly colored fruits and veggies, offer polyphenols. These wondrous plant compounds reduce inflammation in the brain and also stimulate the formation of new brain cells. That is a huge win-win for mental wellbeing as both inflammation and the loss of brain cells play a key role in the development of mental health disorders. Include 2-3 servings a day of intact whole grains as the ideal. And for veggies, the sky is the limit. Eat as many as possible!
Finally, fish, especially oily fish, are rich in omega 3 fats—a vital “essential fat” integral to both brain structure and function. Include 2-3 weekly servings of oily fish for best results.
Clinical Nutrition, Volume 38, Issue 5, October 2019, doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2018.11.010