Eat Your Way To A Better Mood
GIVE YOURSELF 39 TRILLION REASONS TO SMILE
What if we told you that radiant happiness starts in your gut—and that you can tend to it every day so that it (and your well-being as a whole) flourish?
Yes, really. Your gut microbiome is filled with microbes that “speak” to your brain by regulating the production of signaling neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which is known to mediate satisfaction, happiness, and optimism. In fact, the gut produces approximately 95% of total body serotonin (a.k.a. “the happy hormone”), meaning that your gut health is more responsible for your mood than you may have thought.
It doesn’t stop there. The G.I. tract is also home to about 39 trillion microbes that can influence our mental state. When our gut health is thriving, our neurotransmitters produce dopamine and the aforementioned serotonin, key players in triggering feelings of happiness and reward. On the flip side, when our gut health suffers from dysbiosis or inflammation, our mental health can also take a turn for the worse, causing an uptick in cases of anxiety and depression.
If happiness starts in the belly, then how can we nourish our way to joy?
For one, flood your body with plant fiber. Your gut bacteria—specifically, the friendly ones that support happiness—thrive off of prebiotic fiber, like the kind found in leafy greens (and other plant foods). Low fiber, sugar-rich foods are not just ineffective, but can actually worsen your mood, as they can lead to yeast overgrowth, gut dysbiosis, and a condition called leaky gut, which has been connected with many mood disorders such as ADHD, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression. But, by eating a varied, colorful, plant-rich diet, you can ensure you’re providing your gut bacteria the nourishment they need to keep your body healthy and your spirits high.
Knowing a healthy gut is paramount to happiness, finding the perfect probiotic is also vital. (Our Complete Probiotic Formula is clean, plant-based, and potent.) Probiotics have the ability to restore normal microbial balance, and therefore have a potential role in the treatment and prevention of anxiety and depression. Several bacteria belonging to Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella have even been reported to be able to produce serotonin. Not to mention, a diversity of high-quality bacterial strains can help reduce inflammation in the body, support the building of the intestinal wall, create regularity in digestion and ease bloat, as well as support mitochondria health.
The next step? Breathe.
The American Psychological Association has found that stress-induced changes to the microbiome can in turn affect our brains and behavior. Keeping our communication highway (i.e., the vagus nerve) toned and efficient is essential in the gut-brain connection to our happiness. While diet can lay the foundation for a joy that reverberates beyond a genuine smile, poor vagus nerve tone can result in dysbiosis and increased gut inflammation, which in turn can impact our mood. So how do we tone the nerve within us? By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS)—also known as rest and digest—through meditation and deep, diaphragm breathing. Try to find three moments in your day to take 5-10 expansive belly breaths (ideally before meals) and revel in the present.
The study of the human microbiome and its far-reaching effects is vast and ongoing. But if there’s one thing we want you to take away from all this, it’s that the power is in your hands. When you unlock the secrets of your gut, you are empowered to mine happiness from within. The rewards you’ll reap are a thriving mind, a physical body in harmony, a soaring spirit… and that’s just the start.