When we think about training our brains through meditation and mindfulness we might not associate food with our practice. The thought crossed my mind during my morning coffee following my own meditation today. To be honest, it may have been one of the many thoughts that crossed my mind during my meditation which seems to happen a lot.
I wondered, could what we eat have an effect on our ability to train our brains through a practice like mindfulness?
I did some investigating. Science shows that there is a link between our brain and our gut, and they are actually connected by a nerve called the Vagus that runs from your brain stem to your abdomen. Evidence has also shown that your gut bacteria uses the Vagus nerve as the main route to travel to your brain. Do you see where this is going? We know about healthy bacteria in our gut and the role that plays in good nurtirition, but studies are now showing that things like fermented foods can have a major effect on issues like social anxiety and depression. Did you know that gut bacteria is also responsible for the same mood boosters you get from that daily spin class? Feel good hormones like serotonin and dopamine have their largest concentration in your intestines, not your brain, which is what I always thought.
According to Dr. Raphael Kellman, a New York City-based physician who specializes in treating the microbiome “By improving the microbiome we can actually see positive changes in mood, cognitive function, and executive function,” Kellman said. It’s not just eliminating the poor mood—the depression or anxiety—but it’s actually creating positive emotions and a positive mood.
Take away from this? Take a holistic approach to your brain, if you want to improve or alter the way your brain works, it’s a smart idea to focus on improving your gut health at the same time, since they are so closely linked. It also means you want to try and avoid the things that interfere with a healthy gut, like sugar and processed foods.
Feel good hormones like serotonin and dopamine have their largest concentration in your intestines, not your brain, which is what I always thought.
So here are ten items that you may want to add to your grocery bin on that trip home from your next mindfulness class: (Note: Prebiotics are highly recommended by Dr Kellman, as opposed to probiotics)
• Jerusalem Artichokes
Until next time, shine your light,
(Founder, Camp Still)