To Be Happy. A motto we live by everyday. Happiness is what we’re all after. Some days go a little more to plan than others. When we lose our way, it’s those three little words that help us get right back on track. But for all of us, sometimes there are a few too many of those days, and you can’t put your finger on why. There is a lot of research suggesting that it could all lie in our gut. While we can meditate until we pass out, get enough sleep, exercise, and eat kale, it’s not going to be all sunshine, unless we examine what’s happening in our gut – the second brain.
While older research told us that happiness and serotonin (aka happy neurotransmitter) is all made in the brain, newer information tells us that the gut, our second brain, houses approximately 90% of the serotonin found in the body. To make sure that you’re staying happy and healthy, you have to keep the bacteria in your gut happy and healthy allowing that serotonin to stay at high levels. This will boost mood as well as aid digestion. It’s good to remember that it’s a two-way street. A happy gut creates more serotonin keeping us happy, but less serotonin hinders digestion resulting in diarrhoea and constipation.
So how do we keep these bacteria happy? We eat our way there. Here’s three food groups to stock up on.
Prebiotic foods contain certain ingredients, including fibre, which the bacteria in your gut actually like to live on. This also creates fermentation that further benefits health. So what is a prebiotic food?
It’s all about fruits and vegetables. Some great fruits to reach for include bananas and kiwi fruit. The vegetables are endless, including asparagus, endive, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, and onions. Other foods, which are prebiotic, include wholegrains and legumes.
Probiotic foods provide fibre as well as deliver a fresh batch of bacteria. Your digestive system needs a diverse range of good bacteria to stay healthy. The more types of good bacteria we eat, the more diverse our gut microbes, which supports overall gut health. These foods are prepared by a fermentation or a culture process.
Think fermented vegetables like kimchi, sauerkraut, and cured olives, cultured dairy products like kefir, and fermented drinks like kombucha and raw apple cider vinegar.
Our gut cops a lot. It has to deal with all the gluten, sugar, dairy, stress, alcohol, and overeating we’ve ever done in our lives. It’s hard work. So inflammation can be very prevalent, which does not help our gut stay happy. Stock up on foods that fight inflammation. This includes things like dark berries, dark leafy vegetables, and more supplement-based foods like slippery elm, turmeric, and aloe vera. Plus good fats help to heal any damage that may have occurred.
Noticing a slump in your mood, but not much has changed? Maybe it’s time to address that gut of yours and make sure you’re giving both brains a fighting chance at happiness.