It’s common to blame your grumpy mood on lack of sleep or hunger – but research has shown that your emotions can be altered by your gut health, having a huge affect on the way you think and feel. ‘Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that impacts mood, is found and made in the gut,’ explains clinical nutrionist and author of Living The Healthy Life Jessica Sepel.
- What is serotonin?
'Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood – helping to prevent depression. – it is known as the happy hormone,' says Jessica. To put simply, a neurotransmitter carries signals along and between nerves and serotonin specifically is very strongly associated with the bodies contribution to wellbeing and happiness. Because so much of the body’s major serotonin can be found in the gastrointestinal tract, it has a direct link to our moods. ‘90% of the serotonin produced in the body is found in the gut and low serotonin is associated with low mood and depression,’ Jessica adds.
- Other factors
While serotonin is the major player when it comes to the link between gut health and mood, Jessica says that bad bacteria can also have a negative effect on your happiness. ‘Besides for serotonin, gut bacteria is involved in the communication between the brain and the gut – influencing mood. This is why it is important to ensure you have a good balance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut,’ she says.
- The signs
Worried you have bad gut health? Some telltale signs of an imbalance include gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhoea, IBS and constipation. ‘I believe the best way to treat this is to introduce probiotics into a person’s diet and take out foods that encourage the growth of bad bacteria e.g.: sugar, alcohol and processed foods,’ advises Jessica.
- How to fix it
Thankfully, bad gut health doesn’t have to be a big problem, balancing out that area of your body can be as simple as excising to boost serotonin levels and dopamine, or getting some extra sunshine to increase your body’s Vitamin D. Jessica also recommends the following:
● ‘Enjoy good carbs which help to boost serotonin levels – like brown rice, sweet potato, rye, oats, vegetables, beans, legumes.’
● ‘Avoiding gluten really does help to repair the gut – opt for gluten free!’
● ‘Avoid processed foods and avoid refined sugar – they encourage the growth of the bad ‘bacteria.’
● ‘Fermented veggies – promote the growth of the good bacteria.’
● ‘Good quality probiotics – to re-inoculate the gut with good bacteria.’
● ‘Reduce alcohol – alcohol has been shown to affect mood negatively.’
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