Nutrition for Gut-Brain health

Nutrition for Gut-Brain health

Nutrition for Gut-Brain health

Around 90% of serotonin (a neurotransmitter for mood and happiness) is produced in the gut!  Which means that caring for your physical, emotional health and reducing stress can directly influence how our digestive system functions.  Maintaining balance is the key.

The foods we consume can have an impact on this relationship, influencing our mood, cognitive function, and even our immune system.

The Gut-Brain communicates via the central and enteric nervous systems so any gut symptoms you may be experiencing can be directly related to anxiety or stress, your diet and lifestyle.

The chemistry and complexity of the two systems working together synergistically is intricate and there is a lot we can do to help our bodies function normally, via diet and lifestyle (especially where there is no disease at play).

There are many foods to avoid that can disrupt the digestive process or lead to inflammation - like foods that are high in sugar, highly processed foods, foods and beverages high in sugar and additives, low fibre foods, foods high in additives, some drugs, our hygiene and foods low in nutrients.  The gut and brain connection via millions of nerves control inflammation and can make compounds that can affect your brain health.

Dysbiosis is an imbalance of our microbiome resulting in an imbalance of microbiota (healthy and useful good bacteria) and other organisms which live in our gut. 

From a Nutritionists perspective, including Australian native ingredients into your diet can provide valuable nutrients, foods high in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals as well as phytonutrients, which all play a role in good health as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle.


Stress relief via yoga, meditation, dancing, other forms of exercise, socialisation, getting into nature and making time for yourself can calm our nervous system and help release beneficial happy hormones which can directly affect your gut health in a positive way.

I think if you take time to enjoy your food, eat slowly (chew properly) and if your situated in an amicable environment, this can also help release happy hormones which could play a part in this mind body synergy.  It is important to release the right amount of digestive enzymes, bile acids and other digestive elements that could be effected if your eating on the run or not chewing properly.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Not all pro and pre biotic are the same.  Probiotics are live bacteria that add to the population of good bacteria in your gut and prebiotics are fibres that are fermented by your gut bacteria which also have bi-products used by other systems in our bodies. Various strains and in various combinations have been shown to target different sections of our gut and others can target brain health (psychobiotics).

Feeding the good probiotics in your gut can allow them to become stronger and healthier, which can impact our overall health.  Where you live, foods you eat and many other factors influence the various populations of our gut microbiome.  Think of it like a forest and that all forests around the world are different.

Foods to include in your diet (providing you don't have any allergies or intolerance):

Healthy fats - avocado, olive and coconut oil, nuts and seeds (including wattleseed, bunya nut meal), lean meats and dairy.  You can make your own nut butters, tahini and dips from these.  Omega-3 fats (found in oily fish) can increase good bacteria. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health and have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit the gut. Foods like salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are rich in omega-3s and can help support a healthy gut-brain connection.

Fermented foods - yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables and cheese have healthy microbes.

Fibre - Fibre is essential for a healthy gut as it promotes regular bowel movements and feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut.  Complex carbohydrates/high fibre foods - brown rice, wholegrain breads, fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes (including wattleseed).  These foods are excellent sources of fibre that can enhance the gut-brain connection.  Foods also rich in prebiotics include garlic, onions, bananas, artichokes, and asparagus.

Polyphenol-rich foods (plant chemicals) are digested by our gut bacteria and can help promote healthy gut bacteria, even improve cognition.  Foods to include are cocoa, olive oil, coffee and green tea.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is converted into serotonin.  Foods high in tryptophan include turkey, cheese and eggs.

Australian Bunya nuts contain complexed carbohydrates, all the essential amino acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and 6) and they are a source of dietary fibre, folate and minerals.

Wattleseeds are rich in dietary fibre with some species being rich in oleic acid and essential amino acids.  Studies have shown wattleseeds to have good nutritional value.  Wattleseed is nutrient-dense and contain high levels of iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, high in fibre and good oils.

Native ingredients are naturally nutritious, have not been genetically modified, organically and locally grown.

Kakadu Plum is fibrous and contains exceptionally high amounts of vitamin C and phytonutrients.

Here is a link to our health benefits page which outlines the health benefits of a variety of native ingredients.  Use as part of a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle.

We can't ignore that native ingredients can add nutritional value to our meals.

Native foods are nutrient dense and can raise the nutritional profiles of your meals when added to your culinary creations, just like other healthy foods.

Some native foods have higher amounts of nutrients than other common health foods, for example, avocado is a major source of lutein but higher amounts are found in Mountain Pepperberry and lemon myrtle.

Rich sources of Calcium can be found in Quandong, Davidson plum , Riberry and Mountain pepperleaf/berry.

Folate (B9), can be found in Quandong and Riberry.

By incorporating all these foods mentioned into your diet, you can help support a healthy gut-brain connection and improve your overall well-being. Remember, a balanced diet rich in prebiotics, probiotics, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, fermented foods, and fibre can positively impact your gut health and cognitive function.


Julie Merlet - NATIF

Nutritionist, Native food Nutrition