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The Gut-Brain-Axis (GBA)

Our second brain


It’s time for some science!! You may have heard a lot of talk about your microbiome and the gut-brain-axis recently. It’s only been in the last few years that we’ve started to better understand the connection between the brain, gut, and microbiome and its influence over our health. Goes to show there is always more to learn and still so much we don’t know!


The Gut-brain-axis refers to the physical and chemical communication system between your gut and your brain. To put it simply, the health of your brain effects the health of your gut, and the health of your gut effects the health of your brain! To keep this connection running smoothly we need to nourish our microbiome. Gut microbes live in our gastrointestinal tract and are responsible for breaking down food, nutrient metabolism, protecting against harmful pathogens and modulating the immune system. Basically, their full-time job involves being a policeman, a doctor, a farmer and a delivery man all at once… that’s a lot of responsibility!


These microbes send messages via neurons and the nervous system, neurotransmitters, hormones and the immune system, which link emotional functions of the brain like mood and mental health, with digestion and absorption.


Recent studies have highlighted the importance of maintaining a diverse microbiome to facilitate these interactions and reduce our risk of dysbiosis. Dysbiosis, another word that’s been floating around, refers to reduced microbiome diversity. We have observed and associated dysbiosis with the development of certain disorders such as IBS, IBD, coeliac disease, asthma, various mental health conditions and even cardiovascular disease.


So how can we support our GBA and keep it happy and healthy?


It’s not complicated or overwhelming, and expensive supplements aren’t crucial. It’s all about TEMPEH…


Try and incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables:

The more diverse your diet, the more species of bacteria you’ll be consuming. Fruits and vegetables also contain indigestible fibre which stimulates certain gut bacteria growth.



Eat fermented foods.

Fermented foods like yoghurt, kimchi, miso, tempeh and sauerkraut have been created from microbial growth, meaning they contain large amounts of good bacteria which will increase diversity.



Movement.

Physical exercise and mindfulness reduce stress and support diversity. Listen to your body for intensity

ques, a 30-minute walk to end the day might be just what the microbiome doctor ordered.



Prebiotics are just as important as probiotics!

Prebiotics feed your microbiome, don’t forget the complexity of their job... they need fuel! You can get prebiotics from a range of whole food sources: garlic, onions, nuts, bananas, asparagus, beans and lentils, and root vegetables.



Eat whole grains.

Whole grains like quinoa, oats, rice and barley all contain adequate amounts of fibre to keep you regular, fuel your microbes and reduce your risk of disease.


Hydration

An easy healthy hack, drink your water! Hydration is essential for gut bacteria balance among almost every other function in our body. Keeping hydrated will help break down food and aid digestion and regularity.


We quite literally are what we eat, so I encourage you to go and consume some happiness and strength.



 

By Georgia Lamrock, Student Clinical Nutritionist @tasteful_tucker

References

Eirini, D., Cox, S., Rossi, M., & Whelan, K. (2019, 08 05). Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease. Nutrients, 11(8), 1806.

Martin, C. R., Osadchiy, V., Kalani, A., & Mayer, E. A. (2018). The Brain-Gut-Microbiome Axis. Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 6(2), 133-148.

Myhrstad, M. C., Tunsjø, H., Charnock, C., & Telle-Hansen, V. H. (2020, 03 23). Dietary Fiber, Gut Microbiota, and Metabolic Regulation—Current Status in Human Randomized Trials. Nutrients, 12(3), 859.

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