Most people are aware that the food they eat affects the way they feel in the short term. Anyone with some level of self-awareness knows that if you eat pizza and ice cream, you’re likely going to feel bloated and lethargic shortly after.

However, it isn’t so commonly discussed that the food you eat plays a major role in your brain health, mood, and the function of your immune system.

So let’s take a second to talk about the gut.

Your gut (you can think of this as the tunnel that runs from your esophagus to your anus) is made up of hundreds of trillions of bacteria.

This bacteria has many benefits. For one, it fights off the overgrowth of fungus like candida. It also supports your immune system by reinforcing the barrier of the intestinal lining and lowers the chances of the “bad” bacteria getting into your bloodstream, a condition known as leaky gut.

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Most people don’t consume enough of the “good” bacteria in their diet, so the resilience of their immune system is drastically reduced due to conditions like leaky gut.

The weaker your immune system, the less of a chance you have at fighting off viruses like the one we’re dealing with right now.

But that’s not all. In addition to strengthening your immune system and fighting off nasty fungal infections, your gut microbiome plays a major role in brain health.

Check this out…

Your gut is known as your “second brain” due to the fact that your intestines actually have their own nervous system, which consists of about 100 million neurons associated with the brain. That said, the bacteria in your gut has direct communication with the brain.

Within your intestines, there are more than 100 trillion microbes (microorganism like bacteria) which make up our gut microbiome.

Your diet, lifestyle, and antibiotic use have a huge impact on the health of your gut microbiome. And here’s the crazy part…

lightwise ©

lightwise ©

Science has shown that the gut microbiome will impact our behaviors, thinking, and may even predispose us to a variety of brain disorders.

A healthy gut ratio should consist of mostly “good” bacteria with some “bad.” When this ratio gets out of whack, our gut microbiome can become dysfunctional, which has shown to be a root cause in anxiety, depression, ADHD, and even play a role in personality traits.

Eating too much sugar, processed foods, and excessive antibiotic use wreak havoc on your gut microbiome. Shit foods and antibiotic use will allow for the bad bacteria to thrive and take over the bad to good bacteria ratio.

Antibiotics will destroy ALL bacteria, which can allow for fungal overgrowth AND the bad bacteria to eventually take over your gut. Of course, there are times where we absolutely need antibiotics to survive or to kick a nasty infection. However, there are many people who pop antibiotics for any little cold they come down with, which can become extremely problematic. When you do actually need them, be sure probiotic use follows immediately.

In recent years, studies have also shown that ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen pain relievers also damage your gut. These pain relievers have been found to disrupt your digestive flora and intestinal mucus. So if you’re one of those people who pop ibuprofen for every little headache, you should strongly reconsider this.

With all of that said, the first step to improve the health of your gut is improving the quality of foods that you eat. Limiting things like processed refined sugar, flour, and other inflammatory foods, and beverages like alcohol, is a great start.

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Then, you can add in a variety of fermented foods that will actually improve your gut and add more good bacteria to your army of gut health. Things like Greek yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha are a few that I consume. You can also consider and talk to your doctor about supplementing daily with a quality probiotic.

Once you start adding in more probiotics, you’ll want to consider adding more prebiotic fiber in your diet. You can think of prebiotics as the food that the “good” bacteria in your gut eat, which can really enhance the growth of those same bacteria.

Foods that are dense in prebiotic fiber include Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and bananas. There’s more, but a simple Google search is all you’ll need to find them.

Everything you consume (or don’t) plays a major role in your health and longevity. I want you to understand that good nutrition isn’t only about improving the way you look and perform. It’s vital to keeping all of your systems firing and keeping you strong and healthy—both physically and mentally.

Be very mindful of everything that you consume and be conscious of the effect it will have on the health of your gut.

It can ultimately determine the health of you.

If you have any questions or for more information, you can reach me on Instagram @chris_tutela.

Thanks for reading.

Header image credit: Kateryna Kon ©