The gut has been called a "second brain" because it produces many of the same neurotransmitters as the brain does (Harvard Health, 2020).
- Dopamine: reward, motivation, memory & attention;
- Serotonin: stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness;
- GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid): a calming influence on the brain.
How can you keep a 5-star gut?
- Steer clear of refined sugar where possible. Refined sugar is inflammatory and destroys good bacteria;
- Limit high-fats. The high level of fats found in meat and fried foods have the same effect on your body as refined sugar does;
- Flirt with fibre, it’s one of the great guys. Fibre feeds the good gut microbes and makes them thrive.
So (spoiler), if you're trying to improve your gut, the best first step is to eat more fibre!
The 30g daily recommended fibre intake, which is key for feeding the good gut bacteria, is difficult to achieve within our current diet (NHS, 2015), however, the visualisation below shows you our last fibre scores and how you can start eating more fibre with ease.
Various types of food can boost the production of these neurotransmitters: GABA: foods rich in B-6 such as spinach, garlic, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and bananas; Serotonin: nuts and seeds, tofu and soy & pineapple; Dopamine: almonds, apples, avocados, bananas, beetroot, chocolate, and coffee to increase its levels.