WHAT we eat can affect our mood, but there is no quick fix or solo superfood to promoting improve mental health via our guts, dietitian Carly Taylor says. The key is in a consistent, healthy diet with variety.
The Ballarat Community Health dietitian was feature presenter for a virtual Women's Health Week session, helping give women the basics on the links between gut health and mental health on Friday.
Ms Taylor said links between diet and mental health were particularly pertinent amid the added stresses of a pandemic environment.
She said research showed depression and low mood could impact food choice in a tendency to crave salty, sweet and high-fat foods and in decreased motivation to shop or cook for ourselves. In turn, when the gut microbiome was not well-fed, the results on our gut impacted energy and mood.
Rather than being one type of food or something you do in the moment, (gut health) is about routine and variety in food. Gut microbiome like good food on a regular basis.Carly Taylor, dietitian
"(When craving comfort food), rather than being one type of food or something you do in the moment, (gut health) is about routine and variety in food. Gut microbiome like good food on a regular basis," Ms Taylor said in the session.
"...Now is a good time for adding a bit more variety and trying new things at home. Online shopping is great - you can sit at home and view options for different grains and other foods from the comfort of your home."
The session was part of the second annual Make Your Move festival, a collaboration from health organisations across the region in Women's Health Week.
Pandemic restrictions forced the festival into a virtual format this year, also featuring a session on pelvic floor information and Pilates exercises with Ballarat Allied Health physiotherapist Kristy Howard earlier in the week. Genki Fit's Jaymee Ellis will lead an online bootcamp for women on Saturday morning.
The free Make Your Move festival focuses on promoting mental, physical and dietary health for women in the region.
Ms Taylor said research showed females experienced depression and anxiety at higher rates than men and 45 per cent of Australians would experience a mental disorder in their lifetime.
She said depression was more commonly being viewed as a whole body disorder, a low-grade inflammation, and diet could play a role in this with nutritional psychology becoming a growing research field.
Sleep, exercise, reducing stress and diet could help promote a healthy gut with a variety of plant-based foods, wholefoods and beneficial bacteria through fermented foods, among Ms Taylor's key tips.
Ms Taylor said a change in diet and nutrition could change gut microbiome within 24 hours but this was only short-lived. Consistency was the way to help ensure gut health.
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