For a clear mind, go with your gut.

” It might be time to start treating depression from the bottom up instead of the top down,” says neuroscientist Jane Foster. While we have always known that food can be a source of temporary comfort, what is less understood is how the state of our gut affects our brain and ongoing mental state.

The body is a swimming pool of microbes.  The intestines, in particular, are inhabited by bacteria – close to 10 trillion. They are powerful mediators that affect the entire body. The brain is the first to respond to anything that is happening in the digestive system. Much of this is thanks to the vagus nerve – a conduit that travels between the intestines and the brain, affecting other organs on its path.

When it comes to intestinal health, we often focus on which foods NOT to eat.

Sugar, gluten and dairy are the top three culprits of which to steer clear. These three foods, combined with stress, coffee, and alcohol inflict much stress on the gut, and subsequently, the brain, every day. Decreased neurotransmitter production (serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine), along with elevated cortisol levels, and an overactive immune system (inflammation) are some of the most obvious manifestations of microbial imbalance in the gut.

Combating cortisol is critical.

Thanks to the everyday stress of our hurried lives, it is essential to proactively fight the havoc it creates. The way we tend to eat in our frantic lives leads to an ongoing state of imbalanced blood sugar, which brings on high insulin levels and excessive release of cortisol. This combination leads to weight gain and high body fat, which in turn perpetuates inflammation and further elevates cortisol levels.

While no amount of good bacteria can take away excess body fat, it can certainly help to lower cortisol levels through the immune system, thereby lowering the urge to eat in a way that feeds the cycle. Anything that lowers cortisol is a good thing.

Knowing that your gut is a mediator between your brain and immune system, you want to be sure you’re sending the right information. Since the trillions of bacteria in the gut are the actual mediators, you want to fill up on the good ones – the ones that heal rather than harm. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are two strains of bacteria, in particular that you most want around.

Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are found in food.

Dark chocolate.
Yogurt. Unsweetened.
Sauerkraut and fermented foods.

What you really want is a concentrated intake of  both bacteria, for a period of time, to bring about a pronounced change in your gut flora. This changed state will send a signal to your brain that all is well. To do this, you want a multi-biotic in concentrated form, which you can find in the fridge at a trusted health food store.

Go with your gut. It just might lead to a clearer mind.

So what do you think?