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The Gut Bacteria That Makes You Happy

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

More and more evidence is pointing to the important role that gut bacteria plays in our health. Interestingly, we need gut bacteria for us to live and be sustainable. A bacteria recently discovered by scientists called Coproccocus has been shown to have an important benefit in our mental health. Scientist examined the stools of people and their lifestyle questionnaire and discovered that those people who are happy and less prone to depression have a higher amount of Coproccocus than those who are suffer from low moods and depression.

The brain and the gut are connected via a long cord known as the vagus nerve. Bacteria interacts with this nerve to pass messages to the brain. Although, the exact process of this is not yet understood, we do know that an abundance of certain bacteria, such as Coproccocus is key to having good communication between the gut and the brain.

The research paper suggests that a pill should be developed to increase the numbers of this bacteria in the gut of depressed people. Does it need to be this complicated? We already know that the diversity of gut bacteria is increased when we add prebiotic and fermented foods to our diet.

In clinic, I often find that low moods and gut issues go hand in hand. It is not uncommon for inflammation in the gut to have an effect on our overall sense of well-being. Coprococcus produces a fat called butyrate. This fat is important in keeping the gut lining healthy and reducing inflammation. In order to increase Coprococcus in our bodies we need to ensure that we provide it with the right foods to feed on. An array of plant based foods including fruit, vegetables, nuts, seed and wholegrain foods are essential for this process.

This doesn’t mean we have to become vegan, but it does mean cutting back on highly processed foods including white bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, sweets and sugary drinks. I know this from both personal experience and the changes I have made in my diet over the years, and the amount of energy my clients have when they replace these foods with wholegrain natural foods.

Nutrition is a key element (not necessarily the full answer) to better brain function and gut health. I believe smalls steps can go a long way over time. One of the first replacements I make with a client’s diet is often breakfast. I recommend that they replace their cereal or toast-based breakfast with a fermented and prebiotic based one. This might include:

  1. 1 cup of natural yoghurt (milk, soya, or coconut milk), which is a fermented food containing probiotic foods. Probiotic foods when passing through the digestive help to support the beneficial bacteria in the gut, helping it to maintain a good foothold and improving our overall digestive health.

  2. A handful of berries, which are rich in antioxidants can contain prebiotic fibre for our gut bacteria.

  3. 1-2 tbsp of chopped nuts, these are a good source of dietary fibre which reach the gut and provide food for the gut bacteria.

  4. 1 tbsp of linseed/flaxseeds. Linseeds and flaxseeds are slightly different plants but the overall nutritious value are very similar. These are best soaked or ground and they help provide bulk to our stool which means they improve both constipation and diarrhoea. They can be bought already ground from most supermarket stores.

Even when life is challenging ensuring you are feeding your gut bacteria with its favourite foods will long term incur benefits to your health. If you need help making those changes and want accountability to reach your goal then don’t hesitate to get in touch for a chat and see how I can help.

If you want further help in improving your gut health or your diet check out my 7 Day Gut Plan

If you would like 1-2-1 advice check out my services page for more details.

Marie Jarvis, Nutritionist / Nutritional Therapist (BANT)

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