Health starts in the gut, and solidifies in the brain.
At least that's how I see it.
Our bodies lose billions of cells everyday, and the new cells that replace the dead are made from the food molecules that you consumed in the not to distant past. That's exactly why we need to eat on a regular basis; to fuel our cells to create energy and duplicate.
The gateway for all these food molecules is the gut. Through the process of digestion, the digestive system (which really is just a long, hollow, twisted route that food passes through, along with a few solid organs that help the process out) breaks down and extracts nutrients from the food we consume. And we have a tiny, but vast army that assists us in this process: our microbiome. Specifically, the microbiota of the gut.
FUN FACT: You have around 22,000 genes in your DNA, but your microbiome contains over 3 million unique genes, which influence your biology!
Good gut health is imperative to good body and mind health. A digestive system that doesn't function properly effects how food is digested and the balance of microbiota, which can lead to a host of diseases, including those that affect your brain. The rule is pretty simple for keeping your gut microbiota in healthy balance: eat whole foods. Whole veggies and fruits, real cuts of meat, healthy fats, legumes, ancient grains, and even red wine and chocolate in moderation.
Another important food group to include for optimal microbiome health is fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, pickled veggies, sauerkraut, kimchi... you get the picture. Way back when, before we developed a phobia of dirt (and the very organisms that keep us alive), we lived in it, and through the soil we were constantly in contact with and ingesting microbes. Since that's not the case so much anymore, fermented foods are a great way to supplement the microbial universe in your body. That, and getting your hands in the dirt!
FUN FACT: The metabolites produced by the microbiome directly affect the health of its host. As in you.
As your gut microbiota work on all the molecules you put into your gut via food, they release the products of their metabolism, called metabolites, which directly affect the gene expression of the organisms themselves, and the organism that hosts them. For a deep dive on the subject, click here and here.
The gut has a direct link to the brain through the vagus nerve, and research keeps pointing to the profound effect our gut bugs have on our brains.
So, with all this evidence pointing to how much our gut health affects our brain health and everything in between, true full body health does start at the very core of our bodies, before molecules even enter into it.
But a lot of what we put into our bodies is based off of thought. Kids learn how to eat from their parents and families, and as they get older, their peers. And from a very young age, they can be affected by advertising. We can all likely go back to our childhoods and make at least one correlation with how we currently eat. We can remember songs advertising food. Belief systems about food were created for us from a very early age, solidifying in our brain how we should eat.
Fortunate for us, those beliefs are not truly solidified, but those deeply ingrained thoughts can easily explain why it can be so hard to change our diet permanently. It can be done, but it often takes extreme commitment, and a change in our thoughts and beliefs about food, and ourselves.
If you have a deep desire to make a positive change for your gut and brain health, I can help. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your best health could be just a thought away!