Did you know that your gut is considered your “second brain?” There is no denying it anymore. New scientific discoveries show that what you eat feeds not only your body but can directly affect your brain through your gut microbiomes.

What is the “gut-brain connection?”

There seem to be multiple things working together when it comes to the gut-brain connection.

  • The vagus nerve that links the gut directly to the brain. Fun fact: 90% of transmissions are sent from the gut to the brain (NOT from the brain to the gut).
  • The “enteric nervous system” that aides in the flow of digestion. Would you believe us if we told you that the gut has more nerves than your spinal cord? That’s why it’s referred to as the “second brain.”
  • The neurotransmitters produced by the gut. Many of the neurotransmitters that have a strong effect on our mood are made in the gut! That includes a whopping 95% of serotonin.
  • The huge part of the immune system that is in the gastrointestinal tract, but can travel throughout the body
  • The interactions and messages sent by the gut microbes, your friendly neighborhood gut residents. You have billions of those little guys happily living in your gut. And they do amazing things like help you digest certain foods, make certain vitamins, and even help regulate inflammation!

How Does the Gut Affect Brain Health?

Since eating and drinking is a huge portal where disease-causing critters can get into your body, it makes total sense that much of our defense system would be located there too, right? In fact, seventy-five percent of our immune system is in the gut! The immune cells can move throughout the entire body. If they’re “activated” by something in the gut, they can potentially wreak havoc, causing inflammation just about anywhere, including the brain. More and more evidence is showing that changes in your gut microbiota can impact your mood, and lead to other, more serious, mental health issues.

One thing is becoming clear. A healthy gut goes hand-in-hand with a healthy brain! So, how do you feed your brain? A variety of minimally-processed, nutrient-dense foods is required, because no nutrients work alone. Consider eating more:

  • Fiber – found in fruits, veggies, nuts & seeds help to feed your awesome gut microbes.
  • Omega-3 fats – found in fatty fish, walnuts, algae, and seeds like flax, chia, and hemp, they are well-know inflammation-lowering brain boosters.

Try the delicious recipe below to boost your brain and feed some awesome nutrients to your gut.

Recipe: Blueberry Hemp Overnight Oats (Serves 2)

Blueberry Hemp Overnight Oats

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup oats (gluten-free)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

1. Blend blueberries in the food processor until smooth.

2. Mix blueberries, oats, almond milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds in a bowl with a lid. Let set in fridge overnight.

3. Split into two bowls and top with cinnamon, banana, and walnuts.

Serve & enjoy! Your gut microbes will love to eat the fiber in the blueberries, oats, seeds, and nuts. Meanwhile, your brain will enjoy the omega-3 fats in the seeds and nuts. So try it tonight and let us know what you think!

Stronger for Today,

The Method3 Fitness Team

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References:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/the-brain-gut-connection

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-probiotics

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/fix-gut-fix-health

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them