Across my Gut Health Series, I read a lot of studies and formed an awful lot of bullet points of advice about what to do as a result. Reading all 8 of my articles is the best way to understand why I’ve formed this advice based on the research available, or if you like learning about how to make mice behave as though they are on antidepressants, but otherwise here’s a quick breakdown of everything I learned through writing endlessly about bacteria, poo transplants and how our personalities are shaped by our gut, alongside the best prebiotics, probiotics and foods to eat to maintain the right bacteria and kill off the wrong bacteria.
- Probiotics will likely help improve your mood, and ability to cope with stressful situations.
- Probiotics may be the future for treatment of depressive disorders.
- Prebiotics are just as important as probiotics for gut health
- Overly sterile environments and decreased gut bacteria is linked to anxiety, depression, giving up in difficult situations and poor sociability.
- Most likely, the best probiotics to take include ones from the Lactobacilis and Bifidobacterium families as they cause your body to produce more GABA. Lactobacilus rhamnosus in particular may be helpful for mood boosts and anxiety reduction, and is not available in all probiotics.
- GABA supplements alone won’t boost your mood
- A diverse microbiome is the best way to ensure a healthy gut and a healthy mind, and to protect your brain from the consequences of ageing
- Diversify your diet for a diverse microbiome
- Find out which bacteria are most likely to be linked to depression and look out for those strains
- Eat dark chocolate
- Eat foods that act as prebiotics (nourishment for the good bacteria in your gut)
- Eat unprocessed, fresh food, multiple sources of protein, wholegrain carbs and plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Fibre is your friend.
- Get muddy.
To give your child the best chance of a healthy gut microbiome:
- There is a growing body of practitioners and countries that recommend vaginal swabbing for c-section births, to populate the baby’s gut with the mother’s gut microbiome.
- After antibiotic use, a course of probiotics could limit the negative consequences and ensure a healthy proliferation of useful bacteria in the gut.
- Maintaining gut health from a young age through eating the right foods and nourishing the right gut bacteria is hugely important.
- Stress in pregnancy reduces the diversity of a child’s microbiome several years later.
- Avoiding stress in pregnancy is vital where possible, but life isn’t under our control at the best of times so having systems in place for stress management is a good idea, whether it be meditating, deep breaths, planning a holiday or exercising, make sure you have procedures in place for dealing with stress.
- As always, make sure your child gets as much variety in their diet as humanly possible when dealing with strong-willed little ones. A mix of veggies and fruits combined with multiple sources of protein and carbs. See this post on the best mixes of foods to maintain a healthy gut and this post for the best prebiotic support I have found.
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