You can probably see how eating healthy food makes for a healthy
body which includes making a healthy brain, but there may be more
of a connection between what goes on in your gut and your brain.
Recent studies have been showing that probiotics in the gut have
an effect on brain activity when we are anxious, stressed,
depressed or afraid. These studies indicate that there could be a
reduction of these types of behaviors through the types of foods
we eat that keep the probiotics in our intestinal system healthy.
The other indication is that this communication between gut and
brain goes the other way and that brain reactions can affect the
population of microflora in the gut.
These studies indicate that one way of supporting brain health is
to also support intestinal health. This makes sense if you think
about there being two nervous systems in the body. There is the
central nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord
and there is the enteric nervous system that is involved with the
gastrointestinal tract. Both of these contain the same type of
tissues and are connected by the vagus nerve. It is this nerve
that facilitates the communication between gut and brain.
Specific probiotics in the gut have actually been identified as
being able to perform functions that affect regulation of
neurotransmitters in the brain and that affect the corticosterone
hormone which is responsible for reducing anxiety and depression
type behaviors. Studies have also led to the discovery that
serotonin such is found in the brain and controls mood,
depression and aggression, is found in even greater amounts in
Studies have also found that an imbalance of gut flora can affect
brain development and that low levels of these gut flora have a
connection to symptoms associated with autism, ADHD, ADD,
dyslexia, and other conditions. While all these studies are
relatively new and more research is needed, preliminary results
are promising that increasing the friendly bacteria in the gut
can be beneficial for brain health.
Food For Your Brain
There are many foods that have been shown to not only increase
general body health, but are particularly good for brain health.
These include foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids such as
berries, nuts, olive oil, vegetables and coldwater fish.
I know you've heard that breakfast is the most important meal of
the day and it is absolutely true. Here's some high powered
breakfast ideas that can help kick start your brain at the
beginning of the day.
Basically anytime you take some whole grains, add in berries and
walnuts along with keifer, you are getting antioxidants, fiber,
probiotics, omega-3, polyunsaturated fat, and protein all in one
meal. Stir in some powdered blue green algae and you've really
got a power breakfast or lunch going. Of course other nuts can be
used and flax or chia seeds stirred in also, but the Journal of
Alzheimer's Disease has cited walnuts as contributing to better
memory and increased brain functioning. They also attribute the
antioxidants in walnuts as being helpful in reducing the chance
of cognitive decline as we age.
- Yogurt that has live active cultures is a good source of
probiotics and protein and if you add some walnuts and berries to
it, you get some omega-3 and antioxidants as well. Add in some
whole grain cereal and you've got a breakfast that is also high
in fiber which makes for slower digestion thus improving
- Make an omelet using olive oil instead of butter to get some
extra omega-3s. The eggs will give you some protein as would
adding some cheese. Put spinach and tomatoes on top before you
fold the omelet over so that they end up in the middle and you'll
be adding some good antioxidants. Get your fiber by putting the
whole thing on a piece of whole grain toast.
- Make a breakfast shake for a breakfast-to-go by blending
yogurt, berries, a little milk and some flax or chia seeds. For
an even faster shake, you can get a powdered drink mix that
contains whey, sprouts, and blue green algae and add to
some fruit juice. This alternative gives you 22 grams of protein
from whey, as well as sprouts and protein-digesting enzymes and
the omega-3s, omega-6s, and all the other amino acids and whole
food nutrition from blue green algae.
- Cereal is always a good quick breakfast standby if you don't
have time to cook in the mornings. Mix a high fiber cereal with a
whole grain cereal, add some walnuts, almonds or pecans, fruit
and seeds, then get some probiotics added in by using keifer
instead of milk. If you've got a little more time, oatmeal is
also a good breakfast for brain health.
- When you've got a little more cooking time, whole grain waffles
or pancakes topped with fruit and yogurt makes a healthy filling
breakfast. For an extra boost, stir some nuts like walnuts into
We've talked about how probiotics in the gut are associated with
brain health, but digestive enzymes are another gut aspect to
consider when thinking about brain functioning. Digestion
requires a lot of energy and the more energy it takes to digest
food, the less there is available for other physical and mental
activities. We've all experienced that afternoon slump especially
after eating lunch. Taking high quality digestive enzymes can
help support the digestive process. Enzymes are present in every
cell, tissue and organ in the body and responsible for every
chemical reaction associated with the metabolism of the body.
Enzymes are critical to the proper functioning of everything from
breathing to thinking to circulating the blood. .
Now you know how your brain and gut are connected and how adding
healthy food and some of the natural solutions discussed can give
you a boost for your brain. Giving your brain the support it
needs to stay healthy no matter what age you are now will pay off
in keeping you mentally sharp into your elder years.