Tag: Gut and Brain Connection

January 2, 2023
eating for mental health, healthy eating 2023, self-care, gut and brain connection, diet and mental health, healthy recipes, Fort Collins

As the new year rolls around, it’s a good time to look at what’s going well in your life and consider how to use your strengths to continue moving forward in growth.

We are coming off of several years of big T, little t trauma. Often when our mental health is affected by outside factors, we can assume it is affected by inside factors as well. There is hope that 2023 will offer a type of consistency in our lives that will allow for more self-care. It’s time to attend to the health needs we might have let slide while we were busy surviving.

As you reflect and assess, one thing to examine is nutrition. We have written extensively about the gut/ brain connection, but it’s probably time to revisit how what you eat affects your mental health.

According to Stephen Thomas, scientific research is beginning to reveal that the digestive system is far more complicated, delicate, and elegant than previously imagined. Our gastrointestinal tract is home to over 100 trillion microorganisms – that’s more than the number of cells in the human body! And these microbes have a significant impact on our hormones, our metabolism, our cravings, how we think, how we feel, and how we relate to the world around us.

Common disruptors of the microbiome-gut-brain connection include not only poor diet but also a sedentary lifestyle, chronic psychological stress, exposure to environmental toxins and insufficient or poor-quality sleep. Real, lasting wellness requires a model of healthcare that considers and addresses every aspect of our lives and how we interact with the world around us – and it all starts in the gut!

Now is the time, Liz Connor advises, to understand better how your diet is affecting your mental health. Keep a food diary for a month and keep general notes about your energy and moods throughout the day. Notice the patterns that occur over the month. Do you crash mid-morning if you have cereal for breakfast? Do you get irritable when you have a mocha in the afternoon? Does a salad with protein included keep you energized through the afternoon? Once you start seeing the patterns, you might find yourself reaching for foods that sustain your moods and energy rather than the ones that drain you.

We rounded up a few recipes from our practitioners to help get you and your gut get started in a healthy way this year:

Dr. Kylie House loves this Ponzu Roasted Salmon for Two recipe (she says it’s the bomb.com).

Liz Connor shares that one of her favorite things to make in winter to warm up the belly is a groundnut stew she learned to cook while living in West Africa. She doesn’t have the exact recipe, but this link is the closest to how she makes it. You can easily make it vegan by swapping the broth for vegetable-based broth, and the meat for other root vegetables. Traditionally, cassava, carrots, yams, and cabbage that can be found around Africa make a great addition. Check your peanut butter ingredients and look for a brand that does not include sugar or palm oil! The best peanut butter is just peanuts and salt. Consider adding a habanero (keep it whole until the end then remove it) for a real authentic kick! The best way to eat this is with a pile of steaming rice surrounded by people you love!

Alex Warren wants you to try her favorite recipe. She loves anything in the slow cooker – this beef stew is a staple and so good this time of year.

Food is medicine. As we start the new year, consider what you can do, naturally, to support your wholeness both mentally and physically. Set an intention to choose foods that encourage a healthy gut microbiome knowing it will promote your mental health as well.

Wholeness Center a variety of mental health tools to assist you. If you live in the Northern Colorado/ Ft. Collins area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs the Wholeness Center has to offer, please call 970-221-1106 or email info@wholeness.com.

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