It's crazy how strong the gut-brain connection is. We have a nerve [the vagus nerve] that runs from the brain all the way to the gut, and it makes sure that chemicals and nerve signals travel back and forth, delivering and receiving super important information between the two. It makes sense then that what we eat directly affects our brain and our mood. I came across an in-depth article by Uma Naidoo, MD, a Nutritional Psychiatrist, in the Spring 2021 edition of Mindful magazine. She goes into some great detail about the gut-brain connection and about how food influences our mood, providing examples of 5 different kinds of foods that will elevate our mood and bring us to a happier place🤗 Here goes the 5 foods she talks about - look up Uma Naidoo to read about much more detail.
Probiotics and Prebiotics: Probiotic rich foods have great bacteria that help your gut and your brain. Prebiotics [pretty much] feed the probiotics and support them in reducing gut inflammation and growing healthy cells. Certain gut bacteria can boost levels of brain chemicals, helping to pull out of depression and other mental health conditions. Wow.
Probiotic rich foods include: plain yogurt with active cultures, kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi and and kombucha.
Prebiotic rich foods include: beans and legumes, oats, bananas, berries, garlic, onions, asparagus, leeks, dandelion greens.
Good Mood Vitamins: Vitamins can play an important role in preventing and reducing depression. A B12 deficiency and folate can lead to a loss of brain cells which is associated with depression. Vitamins A, B1, B6, and C all play a critical role in brain function.
B12 and folate rich foods include: legumes, citrus fruits, bananas, avocados, leafy greens, beets, nuts, seeds, fish, and crucifers.
Vitamins B1 and B6 rich foods include: same as folate ones and soybeans and whole grains.
Vitamin A rich foods include: sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach.
Vitamin C rich foods include: citrus fruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts.
Foods Rich in Iron and Good Mood Minerals: Iron, magnesium, and zinc are all vital for proper brain function. Deficiencies in these guys has been linked to depression.
Iron rich foods include: eggs, legumes, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, spinach, and dark chocolate (she added, in moderation).
Magnesium rich foods include: avocados, bananas, dried apricots, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, and some omega-3 rich fish such as salmon and mackerel.
Zinc rich foods include: seafood (especially cooked oysters), lean beef, and poultry, beans, nuts and whole grains.
Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s are very important to mental health and they aren't something our body can produce on its own. Instead, we need to get it from our diet.
Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines are highest in Omega-3s.
Edamame, walnuts, chia seeds
Fortified foods such as eggs, milk and yogurt.
Herbs and Spices: There are many spices and seasonings that help the brain fight free radicals and prevent damage to tissues [from oxidative stress].
Saffron: increases the level of feel good neurotransmitters glutamate and dopamine.
Oregano: ongoing studies are showing a connection with the active ingredient in oregano and neuroprotective and antidepressant effects [at least in animals].
Turmeric: reduces symptoms of depression and protects the brain cells against toxic damage.
Other mood boosting herbs: lavender, passionflower, and chamomile are all helpful in preventing and lessoning symptoms of depression. And these are great as teas!
Variety and emphasis of a plant-based diet rich in whole foods is the best way to improve our nutrition and health. 🌈Think rainbows of delicious foods.
With love and sparkles,