Have you ever experienced nervous butterflies before a job interview or important presentation? Or how about that “pit in your stomach” feeling when you realize you’ve just made a big mistake?
These feelings aren’t just in your head. Underlying these sensations is a vast network of over 100 trillion microbes in the digestive tract and over 100 million neurons that line the gut.
In the past, scientists believed this network was simply responsible for digestion. But it’s much more than that. As researchers turned their microscopes to the gut, they uncovered something remarkable: the gut behaves like a second brain.
Supporting a healthy gut is one of the most effective ways to enhance your mood and combat stress. And, due to the strong connections that exist between the gut and the brain, these six strategies to support a healthy gut are literally food for thought:
- Eat Essential Fatty Acids
Foods with omega-3 fats like wild-caught salmon or flax seeds can increase the number of good bacteria in your gut and help to improve your mood.
- Boost Your Fiber Intake
Vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and unprocessed fruit all contain fiber that can encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. Fiber can also protect your gut from the negative effects of stress. If you’re not getting the recommended 25-35g a day, consider a superfood fiber supplement to boost your intake of soluble and insoluble fiber.
- Add More Antioxidants
Green tea, berries, cold-pressed olive oil, dark chocolate, and flax seed are all loaded with polyphenols, a type of plant-based antioxidant that can boost your digestive health.
- Power Up with Probiotics
Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt are filled with beneficial bacteria and are great ways to enhance digestive and mental health. If you’re not eating fermented foods daily, choose supplements with probiotics so you support gut health on a daily basis.
- Micronutrients for the Microbiome
Your gut also relies on micronutrients such as minerals to support and nourish digestive health. Magnesium, for example, is essential for helping to move food along the gastrointestinal tract, while potassium is necessary for muscle contractions. Research shows that zinc also plays a role in supporting the health of the microbiome. To boost your micronutrient intake, eat leafy green veggies, or consider a supplement with trace minerals.
- Detox the Gut
Your digestive tract is ground zero for the intake of countless toxins in the food you eat. That makes detoxing the gut a priority so you can prevent some of those toxins being absorbed into the body where they can do even greater harm.
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