Could the relationship between your gut and brain be the key to managing your health?
We know that what we eat has an effect on our physical well-being, but did you know that it has a direct link to your mental wellbeing too? We’re now beginning to understand that good nutrition is beneficial at two levels: It lifts and boosts your mental state in the short term and can prevent longer term brain conditions such as dementia. It’s also linked with improving immunity, metabolism, skin, sleep pattern and reducing risks of heart diseases. Studies suggest that 90 percent of the body’s serotonin, the happiness hormone, is made in the gut.
An imbalanced gut can trigger inflammation, cause acne, hinder your mood, impair cognition and lead to gastrointestinal problems. But, there are ways to have a happy gut, and in turn, optimise your gut-brain connection. Follow these eight health and wellness expert-approved ways for a healthy mind and body.
LISTEN TO THE BODY’S CIRCADIAN RHYTHM
Changes in your circadian rhythm—like switching time zones—can cause shifts in your microbiome. But a healthy diet can lessen the effects and allow the brain to function to its optimal level. Another benefit of following your body’s circadian rhythm? All growth and repair processes function at the right time and achieve their maximal potential.
STEP IN THE SUN
Get daylight when you wake up, even if it’s for 15 minutes. Step outside your room or get some sun through a window, but do this before 10:00 AM. Use this time for personal reflection, or try a fasted workout. This will strengthen the circadian rhythm and improve your mood.
PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU EAT
Opt for foods that create short-chain fatty acids—they help calm the brain. Our recommendation is a plant-based diet with cruciferous vegetables, garlic, onion and anti-inflammatory spices. Pairing the right foods together—like turmeric and black pepper in a curry—improves connections between the gut, brain and the immune system.
CREATE A FOOD-EATING WINDOW
What you eat matters but when you eat matters too. Eat heavy meals between 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Consuming healthy snacks post or prior this window is acceptable, but only in moderate quantities. Or you can try fasting. An intermittent fasting program, which is a great fasting program for beginners, impacts our gut microbiomes and improves microbiome health.
NO FOOD AND ALCOHOL THREE HOURS BEFORE BED
Avoid eating carbohydrates before bed and don’t consume alcohol. You can also attempt circadian fasting: It will help you sleep better and allow your body to use up the glucose that you already have in your bloodstream.
TURN OFF THE BLUE LIGHT
Spend as little time as you can with technology in the evening. Turn off your phone, laptop and TV at least 30 minutes before bed. Create a blue lighter-blocker on your screens or wear blue light-blocking glasses.
TRY TO RELAX
Hundreds of millions of nerves that go from the brain to the gut can be soothed by vagal nerve stimulation—deep slow breathing, yoga, or a walk in nature. You calm the nerves in your gut, which, in turn, calm the nerves in your brain.
SLEEP ON A SCHEDULE
Practicing a good sleep schedule is essential. Sleeping for the recommended seven to nine hours in a cool, calming environment can do wonders for your anxiety, mood, focus and energy.
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