The science behind the mind body connection has been evolving past the daily vitamins, nutrients, and macronutrients we need on a daily basis. Food is becoming increasingly recognized as medicine or at least having an influence on more than our stomachs. New areas of research are looking into how the ways food affects the stomach affects the mind, specifically in regards to bacteria. Using the term “gut bacteria” has never been so cool.
Gut bacteria exists. Depending on what we eat, our stomach bacteria can get out of balance. Unbalanced gut bacteria can cause bloating, indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, digestive problems, or contribute to other illnesses. A healthy balance of bacteria increases healthy digestion, enhances the performance of our digestive system, and makes us feel better overall. Our bodies don’t function optimally when gut bacteria are not in homeostatic balance, which is why we have systems in place, like the immune system, to bring our system back into homeostatic balance. The majority of our immune system lives in our gut. How much diversity we have in our bacteria, and the balance of that diversity determines how healthy our gut is. For example, when bacteria is out of balance, endotoxins are released, which contribute to conditions like “leaky gut” syndrome. Simply put, our guts should not be leaking. When our gut bacteria gets imbalanced to that degree, it causes more damage than a leaky gut. Inflammation, disease, and an imbalance of neurotransmitters can occur. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals which have specific functions in the brain. Dopamine, a key player in the neuroscience of addiction, is a neurotransmitter. Serotonin, an important component in mood issues like depression, is also a neurotransmitter. Research into gut bacteria shows us that our brains are affected by the state of homeostasis of our gut bacteria.
The kind of bacteria our gut is producing has a direct influence on the kinds of emotional states we are feeling. When our stomachs don’t feel good, our brain doesn’t feel good, and our whole system is thrown off. Recovery applies to the health of our bodies, even on this deeply internal level. To recover is to return to a normal state of health. We have a natural state of flora which the microbiome of our gut prefers to operate from. We have a natural state of balance and flow in life which we prefer to operate from in order to sustain our sobriety. It’s a symbiotic relationship which cannot be ignored.
Researchers are going so far as to call the stomach the “second brain” of the body. As men in recovery who are focusing on feeding the mind and the body, we know that both of these brains are hungry. We’re hungry for knowledge, for achievement, for growth, and for the elements of a sustainable sobriety. Eating for healthy gut bacteria could improve our mood and wellbeing because we feel better and feeling better feels good.
Ideas for Eating for mind-gut health
- Eat fermented foods and foods rich with probiotics, like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt
- Focus on plant-heavy meals supplemented by healthy proteins rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, other fish and lean proteins
- For more Omega-3’s incorporate healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil
- Choose nuts for snacks
- Abstain from processed ingredients, additives, preservatives, and refined sugars which the stomach is not meant to digest
- Take probiotic supplements to help the stomach build flora and good gut bacteria
A men’s comprehensive treatment program for addiction, Tree House Recovery advocates sustainable change for sustainable sobriety. Our programs teach men how to build a life of freedom from addiction by developing discipline in recovery. Nature based and health focused our Portland program creates an organic experience of complete recovery. For more information, call (503) 850-2474