The secret to brainpower is in your gut

79 Ana Blazic Pavlovic

The study of and science behind the microbiome is a new field that is advancing quickly. A lot of the findings are confirming what many leading doctors and scientists have thought for years and many other findings are completely changing how we viewed some things as well. One of the most important discoveries to date has shown that by eating the right foods you will get smarter.

This theory is nothing new, your parents likely told you that you had to eat your greens as a child to ensure you fed your brain. However, today, as more and more diets are based around carbohydrates, sugars and processed foods we are seeing an alarming increase in the rates of autism and depression in developed markets. Leading science now suggests that our guts are the cause. A gut that is not performing at its peak will allow bad bacteria to multiply.

It may sound crazy to think that your stomach is linked to your brain but it is true. According to a recent book ‘”Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes To Heal and Protect Your Brain – For Life,” by Dr. David Perlmutter the gut acts as a second brain. We essentially have two nervous systems. One is the central nervous system made up of the spinal cord and the brain and the second is the enteric system that is linked to the gastro tract. Both of these systems are linked. 

The microbiome is the combination of all the bacteria in your gut. They are incredibly complex and are made up of both good and bad bacteria. An unhealthy microbiome has been linked to weight gain, high cholesterol and now brain performance. When the gut is performing at the right level it will produce more chemicals that make our brain happy, serotonin. The vast majority of this chemical comes from the gut.

Perlmutter suggests that the Mediterranean is one of the best diets available for a healthy microbiome. Eating high amounts of whole grains, nuts, fruits, beans, vegetables, and fish will do wonders for your stomach. Another great way to think of it is to try and get as many natural foods in a variety of colors. Always have as many colors as possible on your food plate (that are not processed) and you are doing your microbiome a favor. 

If you want to get serious about improving your microbiome then it is possible. You can sort your gut out in a few weeks if you commit to change. Choose foods that are high in probiotics like kombucha, pickled fruits and vegetables, and yogurt. 

Carbs are still an important part of your diet as they are a great source of energy and keep you full for longer parts of the day but don’t let them dominate your plate. Go lower-carb and enjoy more leafy greens like spinach and asparagus. When choosing fruits go for ones that are lower in sugar content. Opt for healthy fats like olives and nut butter. 

Drinking things like red wine and coffee may not sound healthy but they can be great for your microbiome as long as you consume them in moderation. The same for dark chocolate. 

Drinking as much water as you can is always a healthy decision but studies have shown that tap water can be very high in chlorine. This is bad as it can kill the good bacteria in your guy. Choose filtered water whenever you can. 

Fasting is something that is heavily debated in the world of nutrition. It has been shown to be a positive choice for the microbiome as a 24 hour fast can remove many toxins that have been building up for years of poor dieting. Yet always be careful before fasting and consult a health professional before doing so.

Many studies are now showing how important it is to look after our gut health. The changes required are not dramatic either and with a small number of adjustments your gut health can make you a smarter, healthier and happier individual.