Our state of mental wellness is partly controlled by the neurotransmitters produced by the body. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send messages around the body and brain, and are responsible for our moods, energy & activity levels. Common neurotransmitters include GABA, serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphin, and dopamine.
The saturation or depletion of these 5x key neurotransmitters are impacted by lifestyle, stress, exercise, and most importantly diet. If these neurotransmitters are depleted, we can experience symptoms such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, paranoia, rage, disrupted sleep, and a general loss of enthusiasm for life.
Nutrition is highly influential in controlling the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. Eating a nutrient-dense whole foods diet provides all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and enzymes that form the precursors to proper levels of neurotransmitters.
But it’s not enough to be eating the right foods, we have to be digesting them too! To maintain optimal levels of mental wellness our digestive system must be working. To create neurotransmitters, we need:
- proper stomach pH (acidity) to process and use the amino acids from proteins;
- good liver/gallbladder function enables us to digest healthy fats and the fat‐soluble vitamins A, D, E & K;
- healthy small intestine function to help us make serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feeling happy; and
- balanced bowel flora to produce Vitamin B12.
So how do you know if you are digesting your food properly? Well, if you are experiencing more than one of the below symptoms on a regular basis, you may be having some issues in the digestive system:
- wind/ gas
- diarrhoea or constipation
- tummy pain/ bloating/ gurgling noises
The good news – many of these digestive issues can be balanced using nutrients from real whole foods.
Here are a five foods you can incorporate in your diet to maintain a healthy digestion:
- Oysters – an excellent source of Zinc which helps the liver detoxify and maintains healthy skin cells. Other sources of Zinc are beef, liver & eggs;
- Beetroot – supports the gallbladder and is great for proper bile function. Add fresh beets to salads and vege juice;
- Butter – contains butyric acid that supports lower bowel flora;
- Bone broth – rich in the amino acid glutamine which seals and heals the lining of the small intestine. Eggs, beef, fish and broccoli are also good sources;
- Yoghurt – we all know yoghurt contains probiotics that feed the good bacteria in the gut; but did you know you can also find probiotics in other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kvass, kefir and kombucha.
What foods do you eat to support healthy digestion?