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  • Writer's pictureAmy Dougley

Nutrition and Mental Health

Most of us know that the brain can affect the gut - even thinking about food can start the

digestion process with creation of saliva and stomach acids, but did you know that the gut can also send messages to the brain?

"The vagus nerve is the largest nerve in your whole body and it is the ‘highway’ that connects the brain to the gut and the gut to the brain. This is why gut health is extremely important for our emotional regulation, moods, and overall mental health."

Over the last few decades doctors have deemed our gut as our second brain! It has over 500

million neurons that connect to your brain. Our gut also produces about 95% of your serotonin, which is the chemical that contributes to feelings of happiness.

You Are What You Eat

Your brain requires a constant supply of fuel. That fuel comes from the foods that we choose to eat and nourish our bodies with. Focusing on whole foods is your best option to have a healthy gut and excellent functioning brain.

Foods that are beneficial for the gut -brain axis:

➢ Omega-3 Fats

○ Omega- 3 can help to increase good bacteria in the gut and reduce risk of brain


○ Found in oily fish like Salmon, Sardine, Atlantic mackerel, and Cod.

➢ Fermented Foods

○ Healthy microbes and good bacteria for gut health

○ Help to alter brain activity

○ Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, raw cheese, and kombucha

➢ High-Fiber Foods

○ Contain prebiotic fibers that are good for your gut bacteria

○ Nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables

➢ Polyphenol-Rich Foods

○ Increase healthy gut bacteria and may help to improve cognition.

○ Coca, green tea, olive oil, and coffee.

➢ Tryptophan- Rich Foods

○ Amino acid that is converted into serotonin (happy chemical)

○ Turkey, eggs, and cheese.

Eating a well balanced diet that incorporates healthy fats, proteins, carbs, and fibre will help to keep your mind sharp and mood balanced.

Here is a great recipe to try out!

Brain Power Smoothie


- 2 cups blueberries

- 1 cup pomegranate juice

- 1 cup ice cubes

- 1 Tbsp chia seeds

- 1 ripe banana, peeled

- Half of an avocado, peeled and pitted


- Add all ingredients to a blender and pulse until combined and smooth.

- TIP - too smooth - add more ice

- TIP - too thick - add more juice (a little at a time)

This blog was written by Holistic Nutritionist, Caitlin Schneider. For a complimentary consultation with Caitlin, feel free to reach out to either Brant Mental Health Solutions at 519.302.2300 or Pathways To Hope at 519.751.0728.

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