Summertime is dwindling, September has begun, and back-to-school anxieties are on overdrive. When stress levels run high, it's almost second-nature for emotional eating to ensue. Since snacking to ease nervous symptoms usually doesn't end very well, new research shows it may be beneficial to graze on healthy gut foods when anxiety strikes.
The study, which was performed by scientists at the University of Cork in Ireland, links gut microbes and miRNAs gene regulators to the psyche. If you have no idea what that means, allow me to translate. Basically, what you eat affects not only your stomach, but also your nervous system. So, yes, science is essentially giving you the green light to soothe anxiety symptoms with a snack.
Dr. Robert Graham, MD, of FRESH Med at Physio Logic NYC, helps explain this concept in a little more detail. He tells Elite Daily,
Our gut is connected to our brain through the vagus nerve (part of the enteric nervous system). This system is commonly described as the gut-brain axis. The enteric nervous system is called our 'second brain' because it consists of a bidirectional communication network between our central [nervous system] and the gut.
As a former student myself, I understand stress peaks for an undergrad in between classes, so it's not always likely you'll have a healthy option on hand. To make sure you're prepared, here are a list of gut-healthy snacks to ease your tummy and over-active thoughts.
I was pretty neutral when it came to eating yogurt growing up, until I found out one container was packed with probiotics, aka the good stuff for a healthy gut. And even though I'm eating less dairy these days, you'll still find an almond or coconut yogurt on my refrigerator shelf every now and then.
On the major health benefits of yogurt, Gina Dantes (M.Sc. Biotech) from CureJoy's in-house research team tells Elite Daily,
While increasing your intestinal lactobacilli (good bacteria), yogurt also impairs the growth of inflammation-causing enterobacteriaceae. It's important to pay attention to the word 'plain,' as flavored yogurts often have high levels of sugar disguised as flavoring agents. If you're lactose-intolerant and thinking about skipping this [snack], hold on. Bacteria in yogurt have been shown to improve the symptoms of lactose intolerance in both children and adults. So, there's no need for you to refrain.
Translation: Grab a yogurt for breakfast on-the-go, and you'll be all set for anything the day throws your way.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I hopped on the kombucha train as soon as it became the buzz-worthy beverage all over social media. That's not to say all trendy foods are good for you (or even taste as good as they look on Instagram), but in this particular instance, kombucha is bae.
Always make sure to read the instruction labels to ensure no sugar or unnecessary ingredients have been added, but brands like KeVita, GT, and Health-Ade are all-natural. The fermented tea offers a ton of probiotics per serving, so you can sip happily knowing this energizer is super healthy.
Dreams do come true! We all know chocolate puts us in a good mood between its rich taste and health benefits galore, but it turns out it's also good for your gut.
According to research published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, when probiotics are added to chocolate, they are able to reach the GI tract and "colonize the gut" with healthy bacteria.
So the next time you feel an anxiety attack coming on, reach for an emergency bar of dark chocolate to ease the nerves. Or, better yet, start taking chocolate vitamins (like these Sakara Life probiotic chocolates) daily to aid both your digestive and nervous systems.
4. Sourdough Bread
Sourdough is often the forgotten loaf in my house, but I may need to buy a bunch for an emergency stash.
Apparently, this mildly sour bread is made with a lactic acid starter that's full of a) flavor and b) healthy gut bacteria. If you're all about toast in the morning before heading off to class, you might want to stick with a slice or two of this variety.
Another delicious healthy gut food to add to your grocery list is coconut.
Coconut shavings, oil, milk, and chunks are all full of digestive benefits to aid a healthy gut, and according to Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com, best-selling author of Eat Dirt, and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, "the lauric acid found in coconut can help to reduce candida infection, fight bacteria, and boost the immune system to help limit the impact of viruses.”
Almonds are a no-fuss, easy snack to toss into a baggie and bite into on-the-go. Offering munchers a significant amount of protein and healthy fats, each nut contains healthy gut benefits, as well.
According to Dr. Axe,
In addition to healthy fats and alkaline-forming molecules, almonds (especially the skin of almonds) contain probiotic components that help with digestion, detoxification, and healthy bacterial growth within the gut flora -- a key to actually utilizing nutrients from food and preventing nutrient deficiencies.
Sour bread isn't the only bitter food item that's sweet for your insides. Lifeway Foods tells Elite Daily,
The live and active probiotic cultures found in kefir may help support digestion. Probiotics are live microorganisms that may provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. The benefits of these good bacteria may include supporting immunity and a healthy digestive system.
8. Bone Broth
Yet another snack made popular by social media, bone broth can be stored in a thermos and sipped throughout your history lecture.
Clinical nutritionist Sharon Brown tells Elite Daily,
Bone broth is rich in minerals, collagen, gelatin, amino acids, and other nutrients, which detoxifies the body and heals the gut and joints. In addition, bone broths are rich in gelatin and collagen, which helps fight degenerative joint disease and supports gut health.
The only downside to bone broth is it's a long process when you make it from scratch. The upside? There are a few prepackaged alternatives out there, like the Bonafide Provisions Drinkable Veggies Bone Broth and Vital Proteins Bone Broth Collagen Powders.
9. Whole Grains
Most of us tend to shy away from carbs when trying to maintain a "healthier" diet, but the truth is, whole grains are excellent for the gut and should definitely not be avoided entirely.
Dr. Joanna McMillan, a nutrition advisor for Freedom Foods Group, tells Elite Daily that just one serving of the brand's Barley+ Toasted Muesli "delivers almost two-ounce equivalent servings of whole grains, putting you well on target to your recommended daily intake. The wonderful mix of fibers, including resistant starch, feeds your good gut bacteria, in turn keeping your gut healthy."