Could Your Gut Bacteria Make You Happier?
Our Expert advice comes from Leading London Nutritionist, Lily Soutter BSc (Hons) Food & Human Nutrition, Dip NT (www.lilysoutternutrition.com)
Our stomach does so much more than simply digest our food. What lies within in our gut will have a ripple effect on all other aspects of our health – even our happiness!
Our gut is now referred to as our second brain and the vagus nerve links the two together. They are constantly chattering to each other, therefore the health of our gut can affect how we feel and how we feel can affect our gut. As much as 90% of serotonin is located within our gut, with only 10% in the brain, and our gut bacteria can influence serotonin production which relays information to the brain.
In fact, germ free mice have shown a drop in serotonin by 60% and when re-inoculated with good gut bacteria their levels shot back up again. This research has extended to humans too, showing that daily consumption of probiotic yoghurt with provides good bacteria had a positive impact on anxiety levels. A healthy gut is one with trillions of bacteria, and the more diverse those bacteria the better. Unfortunately even a single course antibiotics can wipe out much of our good gut bacteria. Stress and low fibre diets can also negatively impact our gut health.
Lily’s Top Tips To Support A Healthy Gut For A Happy Mind...
Consume more fibre
The current guidelines are to consume 30g fibre per day and our daily intake is just 18g. Fibre is our gut bacteria’s primary source of fuel and is essential for it to flourish and grow. Aim for wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds.
Eat the Rainbow
Whilst there is no set definition of what a healthy gut microbiome looks like, it appears that the more diverse the better. Research has shown that aiming for 30 different plant foods in our diet each week can increase diversity of our gut bacteria and the easiest way to do this is to eat the rainbow.
Opt for fermented foods like...
Natural yoghurt with live cultures
This is a quick and delicious way to get your daily dose. To ensure your yoghurt is packed with probiotics, watch out for the words ‘live or active cultures’.
A fermented milk which is bursting with billions of good bacteria. This can be consumed as yoghurt drink or added to soups or smoothies. Nourish Kefir is a great brand which you can buy from most health food shops.
Kombucha is a fermented green tea with live cultures and you can find super tasty variety of flavours on the market.
A fermented cabbage, which can taste delicious in salads, sandwiches or as a topping on any meal.
A Japanese style soup, which can be used as a base for broths or as a warm drink.
A traditional Korean side dish of fermented vegetables, an acquired taste but definitely worth a try!
About Lily Soutter
Lily specialises in workplace wellness and the tools you need to make practical, sustainable and positive dietary changes no matter how busy you are. Lily lives by the saying that the right food = the right energy = the right success!
Her frequent TV appearances include ITV’s This Morning with Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, and ITV’s prime time series Save Money: Lose Weight with Dr Ranj Singh. Lily’s passion is to simplify the science around nutrition, to provide health hacks and smarter eating strategies to empower people to enjoy a healthy and successful lifestyle. As mentioned, her specialities lie in workplace wellness, implementing nutrition focused wellbeing programmes within corporate organisations across the UK.