This week’s Mental Sunshine is all about gut health, and taking care of the bugs in your belly.
Did you know that the lining of your gut is made up of trillions of tiny bacteria, fungi and other microbes?
In fact, our bodies actually contain more bacteria cells than human cells.
These bugs make up what’s known as the gut microbiome, and they play an important role in our health by helping with digestion as well as benefiting our immune system.
The health of your gut – the amount and variety of bugs in your gut – can affect all aspects of our physical health, and even mental health.
Research has shown that changes to the gut microbiome and inflammation in the gut can affect the brain and even cause symptoms of depression and anxiety.
An overgrowth of the wrong type of bug in your gut can cause all sorts of problems – but if you can replace them with the good guys, things can improve for you.
So how do you do that?
Basically, you starve out the bad guys by not feeding them what they like, and increase the population of good guys by feeding them the foods they like.
Surprise, surprise – the bad guys generally like ultra-processed junk foods and the good guys prefer healthier, fibre-rich foods.
This doesn’t need to become a precise science experiment
Instead a really simple thing we can all do is to aim to eat 30 different kinds of plant-based foods each week.
This includes fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, herbs and spices – basically anything that comes from a plant.
Reflect on what plant based foods you eat every day…
Challenge yourself to buy something different in your weekly shop, and keep a note of how many different plant-based foods you can eat.
And of course, keep a note of what difference that makes to how you feel physically and mentally.
I’d love to hear how you get on!