‘You are what you eat’ can be sourced as far back as 1825 from a French lawyer and politician Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. For centuries we have been studying our digestive tract, figuring out what we can and can’t eat. Cultures have played trial and error with different herbal remedies and the healing properties of plants.
Whatever it is we put in our bodies, it all gets broken down and absorbed in the gut. Once absorbed, our circulatory system circulates it through the body providing energy to our cells to allow us to function.
The majority of our nutrients are processed first by the bacteria that resides in our digestive tract, not our body’s own cells. Gut micro biome is a term to describe the various bacteria that live in/on our body. Interestingly there are more bacteria cells in the gut than our own body.
The ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria should be balanced within the gut. The bacteria breaks down the food and our system absorbs the nutrients. The brain communicates with the digestive system through the Vagus nerve and makes up the gut-brain connection. This is how what we eat impacts how we feel.
A lot of research has come out recently in the last few years linking disorders like anxiety, depression and obesity to the gut micro biome. These studies show a different micro biome present for individuals that have these conditions. The research is still in its infancy and mostly done on mice but the preliminary work is ground breaking. Researchers have seen complete changes in personality when intestinal content was transferred between mice.
The easiest way to make an impact on your mood is to start with your stomach. Make some changes to your diet eating more whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables. High fat content foods and sugar should be avoided. These foods can cause inflammation and have been shown to be risk factors for heart disease and diabetes as well as some cancers. Probiotics can also be helpful but you should consult with a professional on which one is best suited for you.
Changing your diet is difficult, especially in the first 3 weeks. There are many online resources and medical professions that can help. Try to make your meals interesting, with new foods, textures and flavors. Take your time to eat. Chew your food properly. Savor every bite.
As Anthelme Brillat-Savarin also said ‘The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a star’.
Dinan T & Cryan J. Gut–brain axis in 2016: Brain–gut–microbiota axis — mood, metabolism and behaviour. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hematology Year In Review. 2017.
Forsythne P, Sudo N, Dinan T, Taylor VH, Bienenstock J. Mood and Gut Feelings. Brain Behavior Immunology. 2010. Jan; 24 (1): 9-16.
Neufeld KA & Foster J. Effects of gut microbiota on the brain: implications for psychiatry. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2009 May; 34(3): 230–231.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. The Physiology of Taste: Or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy. Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc, New York, NY. Reprint Edition Oct 2011. Pg 15.