World Mental Health Day - The Brain-Gut Connection

World Mental Health Day is coming up on October 10, and it’s a lovely opportunity to promote mental health education, awareness and advocacy – all things we strongly support. As parents, it’s so important for us to help our children not only in their physical health, but in their mental, emotional and spiritual health as well.

That’s why we use our platform to support the LGBTQ2S+ community, and to share tips on how to help your children feel more comfortable so they can be themselves authentically at school.

And it’s why in honor of World Mental Health Day, we’re highlighting the critical but often overlooked connection between mental health and gut health. Let’s jump in!

Your Second Brain

In recent years, researchers have revolutionized how we understand our digestion and how it impacts both our physical and mental health.

Scientists now consider the gut to be a ‘second brain’ called the enteric nervous system, with 100 million nerve cells (!). This second brain controls all aspects of digestion and, as we’re learning, it communicates with our brain. The result? Our gut can trigger mood shifts, anxiety and depression. 

Moms and dads have always cared about what they feed their children, wanting them to stay healthy and fit. Now, there’s an added layer to that: helping them eat well and maintain a healthy gut biome may also be critically important for their mental health.

Foods Your Brain Craves

Like you might have guessed, some of the worst foods for gut health include processed foods, simple sugars and sugar alcohols.

On the other hand, the best foods for gut health seem to be prebiotics like garlic, onions and oats, and probiotics like cultured yogurt and fermented foods like kimchi and tempeh. Not surprisingly, leafy green veggies are also great.

Other foods that can help promote brain health include oily fish, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, berries, whole grains, avocado, broccoli, and kale.

Encourage Your Kids To Eat Better

When we were little, we were presented with a false dichotomy when it came to healthy eating; food was “healthy,” which usually meant bland and boring, or it was “fun,” pumped full with sugar, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup.

 Today, we’re much more educated about food systems, and we understand that food can be healthy and nourishing and tasty and fun to eat, all at the same time. It’s why Dr. Dionne made our now beloved SuperFruit Freezies, because she wanted her children to experience the joy of ice pops without all the added sugars. And it’s why we use our blog to regularly highlight other ethical and organic food companies that are making healthy eating fun and easy.

But of course, your kids aren’t sitting down to read blogs, so how can you help them take an interest in healthy eating? We love Sid the Science Kid’s take on healthy food habits – find the video on YouTube here.

It’s also fun to encourage your kids to ‘eat the rainbow,’ a colourful approach to getting more fruits and veggies on their plate.

So make healthy eating fun, and model good behavior yourself. The result just may be a much happier and much healthier family!

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