It’s called the gut microbiome in your large intestine and it communicates with the big brain. The microbiome weighs as much as the brain (about 2 to 5 lbs.) and is unique in every person.
It is home to trillions of microorganisms (“mood elevators”) that:
- strengthen the immune system
- create “happy” hormones like serotonin
- extract energy from food
The most-studied of these microorganisms are good and bad bacteria but the gut is home to 1000s of different species. Most are important for good health while others may cause disease.
Your gut microbiome will look different from most people but looks most similar to your mother’s. At birth, you don’t have much of a microbiome, but in your first 7 years it’s impacted by how you were born, where you lived and the food eaten.
It is called the “second brain” because it affects your mood, happiness, motivation and neurological performance as you age. Gut bacteria are in constant communication with your brain and influence your behavior. The gut microbiome alerts your immune cells in response to infection and affects your central nervous system which controls brain function. A healthy gut helps to manage stressors. Poor sleep disrupts the microbiome.
Things like antibiotics and a sedentary lifestyle can quickly change the microbiome’s composition leading to a gut bacteria imbalance. The imbalance can give rise to irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, diarrhea and plays a role in autism spectrum disorders, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. By eating right you can boost the good bacteria to restore the gut’s balance.
Mind-gut nutrition can “improve communications” between your big brain and your “second brain” (microbiome). Gut health is influenced by the amount and variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and beans you eat.
- Veggies (fiber) feed good bacteria
- Sugar and processed foods are digested too quickly which starves the microbiome. Better options are apples, berries, bananas and sweet potatoes.
- Cocoa, nuts, seeds, beans and chickpeas create energy to let the gut do its work.
The gut microbiome affects your body from birth throughout life by controlling the digestion of food, the immune system and your central nervous system (big brain). A diverse and thriving microbiome helps your mental health as well. Mood Mixers are a great way to possibly help keep your gut microbiome in balance to benefit all aspects of your health.