Have you ever had a ‘gut feeling’ or experienced butterflies in your stomach when you were nervous? It turns out that there’s a scientific basis for these sensations.

The connection between our gut and our mood is gaining increased attention from researchers and those in the health industry as well. It is becoming increasingly clear that the health of our gut has a significant impact on our mental well-being, influencing our moods, emotions, and even the development of mental health disorders.

Whilst it is common knowledge that food is required to ensure our brains and bodies are functioning at their best, many people do not understand the impact particular foods can have on keeping them in their best shape.

The gut-brain axis as it is known in the health world is basically the relationship between the gut and brain and how they communicate with each other. Studies have shown differences in gut-microbiota in people suffering from depression

Stress is an inevitable part of life, particularly in our fast paced, modern world and can have a significant impact on our mood and mental health. It is not unusual for people to look to food and alcohol as a way to manage stress and make them feel good.

Whilst reaching for an extra glass of wine to wind down or polishing off a block of chocolate at the end of the day may seem like a good idea at the time, it can lead to an unhealthy pattern of eating and result in a change in gut microbiota. 

Whilst at Equalution we encourage you to enjoy the foods you love (chocolate included), we believe that the key to a healthy life is balance, and nourishing your mind and body with foods to improve your health is key. So we’ve teamed up with Endeavour College of Natural Health to put together a list of our favourite foods to help boost your mood and maintain your gut health!

Fish

Rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, fish such as salmon, trout, tuna, anchovies or sardines are excellent mood-boosting foods. Omega 3 has an anti-inflammatory effect that may help decrease symptoms of depression. We recommend including at least two serves of fish in your weekly meals.

Chocolate

The good news? You don’t need to give up your chocolate! Cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate, is high in the mood-boosting nutrients tryptophan (a precursor to the neurotransmitter, serotonin) and magnesium (often used as a muscle relaxant). TIP – Dark chocolate is preferred for its higher cacao content and containing less sugar.

Bananas

Bananas are high in prebiotics, and a great source of fibre. They are also high in tryptophan, which has been linked to positive moods. Adding bananas to your day not only increase your fibre intake but could also improve your mood!

Almonds

Almonds not only contain mood boosting nutrients, they also provide a good dose of fibre, prebiotics and healthy fats – helping to keep you feeling fuller for longer. So instead of reaching for a sugar filled afternoon snack, try 10 almonds and a slice of cheese to keep you going for the rest of the afternoon.

Oats

Oats are an affordable and nutritious way to start your day. Rolled oats are a great source of whole grains, which act as essential food for the gut microbiota.

For an easy overnight oats recipe, check out our Berry & Cinnamon Overnight Oats

Interested in Nutrition?

How does your gut health affect your weight, mental health and immunity? Find out more through Gut Health: the microbiome and wellbeing, one of our Nutrition Short Courses.