Food For Thoughts : How Your Gut Affects Your Mind and Mood?

By Alpro Pharmacy

May 2, 2024

In a fast-paced world where stress and anxiety often take centre stage, it’s easy to overlook the profound impact that our diet can have on our mental well-being. But hold on tight, because recent research has unveiled a captivating truth: what we munch on doesn’t just impact our physical health but also our psychological resilience and mood stability. 

Gut-Brain Connection : Unravelling the Mystery

The gut-brain axis is a complex communication network that connects the digestive system and the brain. Diet rich in fibre, probiotics, and prebiotics supports a diverse gut microbiome, enhancing mood and emotional well-being. The WHO/FAO and EFSA (2022) suggest consuming 25g of dietary fibre daily from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes for healthy bowel movements. Short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) production by gut microbiota through the fermentation of dietary fibre is crucial in modulating the affective and cognitive function of the brain. Fermented foods like yoghurt and kefir provide probiotics, aiding gut health, reducing depression and anxiety, and promoting a positive mindset.

Within this intricate system, probiotics—live microorganisms that confer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts—are emerging as key players in regulating mood and cognitive function.

Good Bacteria That Soothe: Probiotics for Psychological Well-Being

Specific strains of probiotics have been linked to improvements in mood and mental health. For example, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, commonly found in certain yogurts and supplements, has shown promise in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in both animal and human studies. In studies, by providing participants suffering from mild cognitive impairment with the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG for three months, researchers observed enhanced cognitive performance and gut microbiome modifications. Gut microbiota is also known as the “Second brain” and plays a vital role in modulating behaviours and brain functions of the host. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG has strong adhesion ability to gut and it also helps to relieve symptoms of diarrhoea in irritable bowel syndrome.

Another strain, Bifidobacterium longum, has been associated with reduced stress levels and improved mood in clinical trials. This probiotic appears to modulate the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which plays a crucial role in regulating mood and emotions.

Recent studies have provided compelling evidence of probiotics’ influence on mental health. A 2023 meta-analysis published in the *Journal of Psychiatric Research* examined the effects of probiotics on mood disorders, concluding that certain strains, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, demonstrated significant improvements in depressive symptoms.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrient needs, hence speaking to your dietitian and nutrition is the best way to find out what kind of diet suits you best and what additional nutrients or strains of probiotics you need for better health. 

In essence, the take-home message from this article is…

Healthy eating goes beyond physical well-being; it is a powerful tool for nourishing our minds and enhancing our moods. Being mindful of our food choices can sharpen our thinking, strengthen our emotions, and boost our happiness. So let’s embrace the connection between healthy eating and a thriving mind and mood, one nutritious bite at a time!

Everyday Tips for a Brighter Mind

  • Avoid processed snacks and sugary treats like potato chips, candy, and soft drinks; they can disrupt concentration.
  • Choose nutritious snacks like fruit, veggies, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, or edamame to boost energy levels and mental health.
  • Incorporate healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado into your diet to support brain function.
  • Create a shopping list and stick to it to avoid impulse purchases.
  • Be mindful of where and when you eat; avoid distractions like TV and take time to enjoy your food, chewing slowly and appreciating the taste and texture.

Need More Information? Talk to Our Expert!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Alpro ePharmacy or visit the nearest Alpro Pharmacy. Our team, consisting of pharmacists, doctors, physiotherapists, nutritionists, audiologists and dietitians, is ready to assist and provide support.

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