You Are What You Eat: The Gut-Brain Connection
I'm guessing we've all heard at some point in time, "you are what you eat". What we probably don't know is why, or what that truly means. Over the past decade there has been more and more research conducted on the gut-brain connection, and how what we eat impacts us mentally. Why? I'm sure we've all told a child or been told as a child not to touch something hot or we'll get hurt. Once we touch it, our brain communicates to our hand to move or else it will get burnt. That method of communication is made possible by something something called a neurotransmitter. One of the main neurotransmitters associated with both mood and food is called serotonin, and 95% of it is found in the gut. Because our gut changes with what we eat, inflammation can increase in the gut with the more highly processed foods we feed ourselves. The food industry has not tested the effects of food processing on inflammatory processes in the body, some of which being depression and anxiety. Our gut also has millions of nerve cells which are impacted by the bacteria in our body. When the balance between the good and bad bacteria is off, inflammation levels rise and the gut is unable to produce the serotonin it needs to regulate our emotions and communicate properly with our brain.
So how do we maintain a healthy gut? That's the purpose of these Tiers! The less processed the foods we eat are, the more fiber and probiotic rich foods we consume, limiting red meat and processed sugars, the better our internal environment is. As mentioned in a post yesterday, not all carbohydrates are created equally. When people say "in order to lose weight your calories in need to be less than your calories out" (what we expend via exercise, the thermic effect of food, etc), that's actually quite controversial. Why? Let's look at an example here.
Fruit is comprised of carbohydrates. So is fruit juice. You could eat a cup of berries for 60 calories and also drink a 4 oz glass of orange juice for 60 calories and the carbohydrates in both sources will have different effects on the body, and the gut. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber which slow the digestion process down and don't cause a spike in our blood sugar levels. However, when we drink fruit juice, soda, etc the fiber has been removed which causes an organ in our body called the pancreas to release something called insulin which converts those carbohydrates from the juice or soda directly into fat. As our bodies begin to store more fat, we tend to function less optimally and our mental health tends to suffer.