Gut-Brain Axis

Nourishing the connection between your body & your mental health

The Gut-Brain Axis

Did you know the gut and the brain communicate, and when one changes, so does the other? An unbalanced gut microbiome is related to irritable bowel syndrome as well as many mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety and has a big impact on your mood. Similarly, disorders such as depression can cause inflammation which can affect the natural eco-system of the gut. This communication system is known as the gut-brain axis. Therefore, it’s so important you are nurturing both your mind and your gut, by feeding it what it needs such as pre-and probiotics. Here are some tips on how to have the best gut-brain axis possible: 


Better digestion: Stress can impact your digestion and poor digestion can make you feel unhappy. It can be a vicious cycle so some ways to improve your digestion include, staying hydrated, eating plenty of fibre (e.g., wholemeal bread, vegies and oats), chewing your food (don’t rush when you eat! Savor it), exercising and managing your stress. 


Prebiotics to the rescue: An essential short-chain fatty acid known as Butyrate is produced when you eat plants and will keep your gut and brain happy! It is the powerhouse for the cells of your gut lining, helping it stay strong and resilient. Additionally, it helps prevent inflammation which is known to negatively affect your mood. You can facilitate the Butyrate production in your gut by eating these prebiotic foods… 

  • Flax and chia seeds, rye, barley 
  • Legumes – beans and lentils 
  • Fruits such as pears, apples, guavas, plums, oranges and other citrus 
  • Vegetables such as onion, garlic, mushrooms 
  • Wholegrains and nuts 


Probiotics: Probiotic bacteria provide an endless array of health benefits, especially for the brain. They live in your gut and are also found in fermented foods and certain lactose products. Probiotics keep your gut ecosystem balanced, allowing the bacteria to thrive and in turn, improve your mental health, fostering your stress resilience and anxiety. Here are some ways you can incorporate probiotics into your life… 

Kimchi  Kefir  Cheese 
Miso  Yogurt  Alo-vera 
Kombucha  Tempeh  Sourdough 


 Create diversity: Your gut bacteria crave diversity including a range of plant goodness, which has been in keeping your body and mind happy and healthy! Your gut bacteria can literally protect your mental health. 


 Serotonin: Your gut microbiome can transform foods into short-chain fatty acids that communicate with your cells to produce serotonin! If you haven’t heard of this hormone, it works to regulate your mood including levels of anxiety and happiness 


 Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA): This is another neurotransmitter that is produced by probiotic gut bacteria for your body! It regulates and improves your mood by relaxing the nervous system and turning off your stress response. So just like that, fuel your gut with some of the probiotic bacteria foods mentioned above and your gut will take care of the rest!  


 Avoid processed foods: In Western societies, this can be surprisingly hard to do, however, it is extremely important. More and more research is coming out on the detrimental effects of processed foods on your gut health, mental health and physical health. Processed foods create an imbalance in the gut system by negatively impacting gut bacteria and their metabolism. Processed foods lack dietary fibre, are highly calorie-dense, and contain high amounts of saturated fat, added sugar and salt. They include additives, artificial sweeteners and certain food emulsifiers that disturb your gut microbiome. Processes such as severe heat treatment, grinding and extraction also significantly decrease its nutritional value. The concerning thing about these ultra-processed foods is that they can be highly addictive. Diets high in these foods can lead to neuroinflammation, reduction in cognitive functioning, chronic metabolic diseases, obesity and neurodegenerative diseases. 


Foods to avoid: 

  • Processed meats: Bacon, hot dogs, deli meats, cold cuts 
  • Junk foods: fast food, sugary cereals, candy bars, chicken or fish ‘nuggets’ and ‘sticks’ 
  • Refined oils: canola, sunflower, soybean, and safflower oils 
  • Artificial sweeteners: aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin (this includes things like ‘no sugar’ or diet soft drinks) 
  • ‘Health’, ‘slimming’ products such as powdered or ‘fortified’ meal and dish substitutes. 



Carabotti, M., Scirocco, A., Maselli, M. A., & Severi, C. (2015). The gut-brain axis: Interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Annals of Gastroenterology : Quarterly Publication of the Hellenic Society of Gastroenterology, 28(2), 203–209. 

Edermaniger, L. (2020, July 3). 9 Facts On Gut Bacteria And Mental Health, Probiotics And Depression. Atlas Biomed Blog | Take Control of Your Health with No-Nonsense News on Lifestyle, Gut Microbes and Genetics. 

Groves, M. (2018, July 4). The 11 Best Ways to Improve Your Digestion Naturally. Healthline. 

Martínez Leo, E. E., & Segura Campos, M. R. (2020). Effect of ultra-processed diet on gut microbiota and thus its role in neurodegenerative diseases. Nutrition, 71, 110609. 

Miclotte, L., & Van De Wiele, T. (2020). Food processing, gut microbiota and the globesity problem. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 60(11), 1769–1782. 

Raman, R. (2023, March 17). The Leaky Gut Diet Plan. Healthline.