Our gut has been called the “second brain” and keeping a healthy gut microbiome is essential as it can affect our quality of life on many levels, not limited to just physical health, but our emotional and mental states as well.
The research suggests there is strong communication between the GI tract and the brain and that the microbiome-gut-brain axis could play a part in various neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression.
The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the human body and forms a bi-directional highway connecting the brainstem to the lowest viscera of our intestine. Information travels back and forth through this vagal highway and this appears to be why gut health plays such an important factor in our mental well-being.
Taking quality probiotics through fermented foods or supplementation is one way we can help maintain optimum gut health. Foods like kimchi, yogurt, and kefir are good sources of probiotics. We also want to eat prebiotics foods like asparagus, artichokes, bananas, garlic, leeks, onions, and soybeans. And we should get plenty of fiber in our diet with foods like legumes, raspberries, blackberries, barley, bran, bulgar and other grains.
Scientific studies are also showing that specific strains of gut microbiome have been linked to peak athletic performance as well:
“Over the past two years, researchers at Harvard Medical School (HMS) have pinpointed specific gut microbiome that differs between elite athletes and non-athletes. The researchers have also identified how bacteria in the intestines changes before, during, and after specific types of athletic competitions. In addition to observing changes in microbiome linked to physical performance and recovery, the researchers from the Church Lab at Harvard University speculate that gut microbiome might play a role in reducing performance anxiety and boosting mental toughness.”
There’s plenty of evidence suggesting we really need to take responsibility for what we are ingesting, what we are feeding on, and do the research on what we can do to maintain a healthy gut microbiome as it could affect every area of our lives.