3 ways to balance gut health for a happier mood
There are many factors that can affect our moods. Our thoughts are a big one for sure, and I know I have gotten “Hangry” many times. That’s the combination of hungry and angry, making someone irritable and irrational. Lack of sleep and hormonal imbalances can also play a role in mood swings and feeling down.
One thing we don’t think would have an impact on our moods is our gut. We all have a natural amount of good bacteria in our gut to aid in digestion and assimilation of the food we eat. This helps us absorb nutrients and necessary vitamins and minerals, and fights off illness.
Occasionally, the bacteria in our gut can become thrown off balance. Having a natural balance of healthy gut bacteria is important for day to day life. As our diets change, so does our gut bacteria. Whatever we ingest, we must break down. Some foods and medicines can cause an imbalance in our gut flora, leading to depression, memory loss, and inflammation of the stomach.
Some other symptoms of an off-balanced gut flora are:
Also, our immune system is located in our gut. Taking care of our gut health is super important to help with fighting off illness and keeping our body feeling great.
Eat fermented food
Fermented foods are wonderful for gut health. They contain beneficial bacteria that your gut needs to thrive. By eating fermented foods we bring back these beneficial bacteria that are lacking when our gut health is out of balance.
A good way to start eating fermented foods is by adding one or more from the list below to your everyday meal plan:
Cut down on sugars
There is a difference between natural sugar and processed artificial sugars. Natural sugars are found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables, whereas processed and artificial sugars are extracted, refined and man-made. They do not help us feel full, as our body metabolizes them faster than natural sugar. Foods that contain natural sugars often make us feel satiated, as this is due in part to other nutrients and fiber already in the food.
Processed sugars, on the other hand, are very easy to overeat. When we consume too much sugar, we can cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria in our intestines which leads to the digestive problems, mentioned earlier.
Certain digestive disorders such as candida and SIBO often cause or are made worse by ingesting sugars. The main reason is that these harmful bacteria feed off of sugar. If you have an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, by eating sugar, you are feeding and multiplying them, throwing your body’s balance off.
Take a probiotic
One of the easiest options to help with digestive disorders is to take a daily probiotic. Probiotics contain live cultures of bacteria the same way many fermented foods do. By taking them, you are delivering healthy “good” bacteria to your gut to balance out and fight off the bad bacteria that may be overgrowing there, as well as helping your gut produce its own good bacteria again.
It is good to take probiotics on an empty stomach so the live bacteria have a better chance of surviving the acidity of your stomach in order to reach your intestines. Fermented food and probiotics will both work well to create a healthy bacterial environment in your gut.
If you experience any of the negative symptoms above or believe you have an imbalance of gut bacteria, try a probiotic or choose one of the fermented foods listed above.
Sometimes when we first take a probiotic or eat fermented foods, we can experience some initial bloating and gas. This is due to the increase of good bacteria in the gut and the breaking down and expulsion of the bad bacteria out of the body. This is a natural detoxification process that occurs and should subside within two weeks.
In the end, our diet can be the cause of gut health or digestive disorders. Experiment with how your body reacts to each meal. Do you notice bloating, acid reflux, or other digestive issues after dairy, gluten, sugar, or alcohol? If so, an elimination diet could be a good next step for you.
Meaghan is an outdoor enthusiast who found her passion while traveling Europe. A Certified Holistic Health Coach and NASM Certified Personal Trainer, she specializes in guiding men and women to transition from autopilot to intuitive eating and exercise by focusing on the mind-body connection and self-love.
Read more blogs from Meaghan Mcelroen