“Boost Your Happiness by Nurturing Your Gut”
Where does happiness really come from? The Medical community has been asking this question, and now some say that the key to your mood may not be found in your medicine cabinet, but rather in your kitchen cabinet. This could be a revolution in the making and in today’s show, Neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D., and author of the book “Brain Maker“, talks about how the serotonin manufactured in the gut influences your mood. He is, in fact, at the forefront of this discovery.
Dr. Oz asks why the gut?
Dr. Perlmutter explains that, “Right off the bat, we are brain specialists and yet we are looking at the gut. …We now know that Serotonin, this happy chemistry that everyone is talking about, is actually 90 percent manufactured in the gut. So all these ideas of getting more serotonin in the brain now really need to focus on maintaining a healthy gut”. The smoking gun that finally allowed him to connect the gut and the Serotonin in the brain is the literature which says that when the gut becomes leaky, the things that are supposed to stay in the gut then gets out in the system of circulation and leads to inflammation. So again, it is about maintaining health in the gut by maintaining the good bacteria.
The probiotics, that are often talked about in the show, go a long way to improving the health of the gut and reducing the leakiness. When leakiness is improved, it reduces inflammation and as a result helps the mood.
Dr. Oz remarks that Dr. Perlmutter is pretty outspokenly critical about prescription drugs, arguing that they are like bandage for things like depression and mood disorders.
He says in reply that, “There is a place and time to use medication aggressively when need be, but the idea of using anti-depressants all the time to help depression is really treating the smoke and ignoring the fire. Inflammation comes from the term ‘inflamma’, the Latin word meaning fire or inflame. So it’s really time to get back again to recognize this beautiful dance between the gut and the brain that takes place. …and how we can harvest that information to create a better mood and not rely on these drugs all the time.”
Dr. Oz: The Daily Happy Gut Plan
At this point, they discuss the ideal ratio of protein to vegetables that you should include in each meal. This is a daily plan that will change your gut happiness the right way.
- The first daily step is to fill your plate with two-thirds veggies and one-third protein. The exact ratio is not so critical, but we now need to relegate the meat and the protein to being the side dish. Protein is not the main focus. Meat becomes almost the condiment. Start filling your plate with really dense vegetables—those colorful nutrient-dense vegetables, that are rich in fibers that actually enrich the probiotic fibers. This nurtures the gut bacteria, and that helps the brain to function properly. So, arrange your food in such a way that the meat, beef and chicken are just side dishes.
A classic day would typically look like this:
- Yogurt, which has a lot of good probiotic bacteria.
- Kimchi and omelets. Eggs are a perfect food as they are really rich in brain-healthy nutrients.
- Avocado and some olive oil in your salad—and noticeably these are all oil and fat. Who knew that pure fat promotes gut health, when all these years we are told “do not eat fat”.
- A variety of colorful vegetables and fruits. The colorful nature of the meal is a marker of a meal that is nutrient-dense.
- One-third of the plate is meat. It can be pork, beef, chicken or turkey.
- Fish, capers and fermented cabbage. Put a big section of green on your plate. For instance, Dandelion greens are wonderful fiber-rich probiotics. This ensemble is really encouraging the good bacteria in your belly to flourish.
- The second daily step is to treat yourself to one serving each of chocolate, coffee, tea and wine. Make that part of your daily food. These are foods that are rich in polyphenols. These are wonderful natural anti-oxidants that reduce inflammation. They also reduce free radicals in the stomach. Polyolyphenols nurture the right gut bacteria, hence nurturing the health of gut bacteria that produce more serotonin. This results to reduced inflammation, thus paving the way for a better mood.
How To Get Probiotics Through Food?
In addition to all that, Dr. Perlmutter reveals the three foods that are rich in polyphenols that help create healthy gut bacteria. These are lemon preserves, raw kimchi or asian-style pickled vegetables, and cultured sour cream. Now, many people using sour cream look for the term cultured. Dr. Perlmutter recommends coconut kefir which is actually a beverage. This is traditionally made as a dairy product. This beverage is made from coconut juice, and it’s a wonderful beverage loaded with probiotics. We now know that probiotics is more than just the obvious, like yogurt. There are a lot of ways to prepare food and arrange food so that your gut’s health is improved greatly.
So, Dr. Oz asks how these foods actually prime the gut for the happiness that we want. And secondly, how the gut becomes happy from eating these kinds of food. Perlmutter answers that when the gut is unhappy, or when the good bacteria are un-nurtured, then we have leakages of the gut. When we leave the gut in its unhealthy state, this allows unwanted things to get into the systemic circulation that lead to inflammation. Therefore this makes the brain unhappy, and when the brain is not happy, you are not happy.
Today, we learned the facts from the doctor who says that the answer to change your mood is in your food. How encouraging to know that the key to happiness is really in your hands now. Or, better put, after all this time the key to happiness is in your gut.
Learn more on how to Heal and Protect Your Brain for Life in Brain Maker by David Perlmutter.