Research confirms the role of food in keeping you (and I) mentally healthy is important.
In this post, I explore what I view as the essential insights to be aware of in this area.
The basics: You are what you eat
If you have listened, watched to or read anything I have written, you know I will oft repeat, you are what you eat.
This is because:
- Food comprises nutrients
- The body extracts these nutrients from the food during digestion.
- The body uses these nutrients to make, repair and maintain you; your 11 core body systems (think cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory, digestive etc).
- In making, repairing and maintaining these systems you are able to function; to do, think, relate and be self-directed.
- At the highest level, nutrients fall into three key categories;
- 1. macro-nutrients, think quality carbs, proteins, fats and water
- 2. micro-nutrients, think vitamins, minerals and
- 3. other nutrients, think fibre and antioxidants.
- All nutrients play an essential role.
- Your body systems are interconnected and interdependent, they operate as a combined whole system, not in isolation.
The key take outs
- If the food you eat contains poor quality nutrients, then you are inadvertently making it more challenging for your body to make, repair and maintain you.
- If you make it more challenging for them to do this, you inadvertently make it more challenging for yourself to do, think, relate and be self-directed.
- To be the best version of you, consistently eat a nutrient dense and where possible fresh whole food based eating plan.
- No, you did not need to do the right thing 100% of the time, rather aim to do it most of the time.
Other nutrients (substances) are also important
It is essential to highlight there are other nutrients/substances that are important.
One of these is fibre.
Fibre has many roles. These include:
- Keeping you regular (yes toilet going regular)
- Trapping pathogens and wastes to remove them from the body
- Supporting blood sugar levels
- Helping you sustain healthy cholesterol levels
- Ensuring you feel satiated (satisfied) with what you eat, and
- Supporting/promoting your immunity.
It is estimated the average person falls well short of their daily average fibre needs. The average adult male needs approx. 30-35g fibre daily and an adult women 20-25g.
But wait there is more; a closer look at fibre
We need to take a closer look at fibre, specifically to look at its ability to shape how you feel and think.
The essentials of fibre
- Fibre is categorised in “Other Substances” essential to good health.
- Fibre does not (is not meant to be) digested by the body.
- Fibre makes its way to large intestine (bowel/colon) where it ferments.
- Fermentation produces substances that feed the microbes living there.
- In doing so, it facilitates the presence of the microbe species, numbers and ratio of microbes living in your gut.
- These microbes form part of your body’s microbiota.
- The body’s microbiota plays an essential role in promoting and maintaining immunity.
There is a growing body of research indicating:
- The gut microbiota is linked with the brain in a bi-directional relationship, it is generally referred to as the microbiome–gut–brain axis.
- It suggests this axis has an important role in regulating brain function and behavior.
- The link to food is because what you eat, is one of the most significant factors shaping human gut microbiota structure and function.
Yes, research is still going on and yes we still do not understand all that goes on. However, we do understand the role of food, in particular fibre in large intestine microbiota health.
To keep things simple, the phrase you are what you eat takes a different meaning. You think and feel what you eat.
Why an important insight?
Your ability to think and feel is core to your ability to function and perform in day to day life; personally and professionally.
- 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health crisis in their lifetime.
- Negative stress is experienced by many, both in and out of work.
- Your aim is to be agile, focused and relevant in thinking, so you can make quality decisions.
- Your aim is to effectively manage and regulate your emotions, so you can engage, motivate and collaborate.
Key take outs:
- What you eat, is one of the most significant factors shaping human gut microbiota structure and function
- What you eat, including the amount of fibre you include in your diet, will help shape how you think and feel.
- What you eat, including how much fibre you include, is a factor you can have within your control.
So what do you do now?
- Know how much fibre to include in your eating plan; the average healthy adult women approx. 20-25g daily and man 30-35g daily.
- Understand how much fibre you eat: Keep a food diary for 5-7 days, track food and the fibre it contains?
- If you are not eating enough fibre, takes steps to add fibre to your diet, both soluble an insoluble fibre.
- To learn more about fibre and what foods contain fibre, read my blog article Are you eating enough fibre.
What more information?
I encourage you to make contact.
Take care, stay safe.