Nutritional psychiatry part 2:

Why a healthy gut is the key to holistic health

In the first part of Nutritional Psychiatry we talked about the way the field is slowly becoming more popular and emerging as an alternative in healing depression and anxiety by using food as medicine.

It turns out that your gut and your brain are directly connected and if you want to stay healthy you have to make sure that your gut is healthy. How? Make sure that your gut bacteria are on the ‘good’ side. What exactly you can do we will explain to you in this post, read on!

Your body is a universe and more…

If you think the human body is impressive you are right. Our body is made up of approximately 37.2 trillion cells. That is nothing compared to the number of bacteria living within our gut. There are about 10x more bacteria living inside your got than there are cells in your body. [1] Now it really makes sense why the gut plays such an impacting role in our health.

An imbalance of your gut bacteria (microbiota dysbiosis) might lead to several diseases, such as nervous system related diseases, allergies, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal disorders. [2]

It was believed that there are about 1000 species of bacteria living in our gut. A recent research from the European Molecular Biology laboratory in 2019 confirms that there are nearly 2000 species of bacteria living in our guts. Fascinating, right? [3]

Depending on what geographic region you are from, this impacts the type of bacteria you have in your gut [4]. That is why certain people have problems with certain foods and others do not. There is not a one fits all diet for everyone which often being promoted. We must understand that there are huge variations between individuals in this concern.

Who are you really?

We now have the technology to find out what bacteria are home in our gut and what kind of food will make our own unique microbiome happy and which food to avoid. There are self – test kits that you can order to see specifically what is going on inside your ‘second brain’. If you really want to know what works for you and what doesn’t this is the perfect option.

There are a few companies out there such as why will send a test kit directly to your doorstep. With the results you get a whole breakdown of what is going inside your microbiome as well as personalised food recommendations.

Making friends with your gut

If you need one friend, then it should be your gut. There are a few general things that you can do to start making friends with your gut. One of the most common diseases that people get is the ‘leaky gut syndrome’. This is when tiny holes develop in your gut walls and toxins start leaking through the holes into your bloodstream. This can trigger inflammation, allergies and autoimmune diseases. [5]

The really tricky thing about this is that people experience the many symptoms of a ‘leaky gut’ but do not know what is causing the symptoms. This leads into a battle against symptoms rather than the cause. What exactly causes the leaky gut, scientists are not sure. It is most likely a combination of the type of toxic foods we put into our body on a daily basis.

How to take action

Eat prebiotic and probiotic rich foods: Prebiotic fiber specifically supports the growth of good gut bacteria. You want as many as you can. They can be found in sweet potato, carrots, asparagus, squash and many others. Probiotics are well known and include more fermented foods such as pickles or kefir. Watch out with histamines, which are often in fermented foods. Many people have histamine intolerance. You can also get that tested. [6]

Do not confuse probiotics with dairy. Dairy should be avoided as it creates inflammatory proteins.

Avoid antibiotics as much as you can: Antibiotics are the worst thing you can do to your gut. They are equivalent of a nuclear bomb to the gut bacteria. Repeated use will deprive you of good bacteria which will lead to multiple health problems.

Cut back or cut out sugar and artificial sweeteners: There is not too much positive to say about sugar, except that it tastes good. Sugar feeds Candida albicans. They are a normal part of the gut flora but when Candida gets fed too much sugar, the bacteria population becomes imbalanced.

Avoid anti – nutrients: Foods such as soy, beans and raw cruciferous vegetables like kale and spinach. The most difficult anti – nutrient for us to quit has been grains. Unfortunately, latest studies keep showing evidence that grains are a key player in damaging your gut health. They contain, gluten, agglutinin, lectins and phytic acid. All these are not good for your microbiome. What they do exactly is a topic that we will explore in a future post .

A must do is to eat a diverse range of whole foods: The more diversity of food you offer your microbiome, the more resilient it gets. It will adapt and diversify too. [7]

Supplement with collagen protein: This type of protein repairs the gut lining. [8]

Lastly, don’t stress: Seriously, stress can impact your gut health just like the food you eat can, remember that your brain and gut are connected? Yes, the mind can do just as much good as it can do bad for your gut. Have you ever experienced upset gut when something horrible happened, you were sitting for an exams or about to have a real uncomfortable conversation? It is pretty obvious when you think about it but we often do not give it enough thought.

The gut should definitely be your best friend for the rest of your life if you want to live a healthy life and especially also keep up good mental health. We hope this helps you get started on making a new friend and creating a life-long co-operation. We’re am always happy to hear your thoughts on this. Let us know in the comments section below or send us an email.

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