The “winter blues” cause misery for millions each year, but experts are still divided about their cause. Vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder have long been leading theories, but recently, gut health issues have been pinpointed as one potential culprit.
Happy gut, happy mind
The systems of our body have a “two-way link” with the bacteria that live in our gut. Their number and composition are impacted by the foods we eat and the stress we encounter, this can in turn further impact our mood and behaviour.
Through the winter months, it’s common to lose motivation for exercise or to begin eating more comfort foods and overindulge. This can create a cyclical effect where changes in stress levels, mood, and eating habits alter the composition of the gut, further affecting behaviour, psychology, and appetite.
Nutritional therapist and author, Eve Kalinik, explained the link between gut health and mental well-being: “The link between gut health and mental wellbeing is one that increasingly science is proving to be intertwined. While we intuitively know that there is a physical connection between our gut and our brain coined with phrases like ‘gut instinct’ and ‘gut feeling’ we are now beginning to understand the full complexity of this special bond and that it is a bi-directional relationship.
“Much of this connection is centred around the gut microbiome which are collectively all the microbes that live in our gut and their genetic material. It is in fact the gut microbiome that produces 95% of all serotonin in the body, most known as the ‘happy neurotransmitter’, as well as other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and GABA that influence our mental health.”
To gain optimal mental well-being by supporting a healthy gut this winter, it’s necessary to focus on nutrition. Kalinik suggests focusing on fibre intake.
“Eating diverse sources of fibre is one of the most important ways in which we can cultivate an enriched and healthy gut and aim for at least 30 plants per week is a good place to start. Sources of prebiotics can be found in foods such as garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, oats and sourdough. Whilst a food-first approach is always preferred, if you are struggling to get enough fibre from your diet, you could also consider using a high-fibre supplement, such as Bimuno.”
Cold days coming up are perfect timing to include more soups in your diet. They can be more than comfort food., Eve explains.
“Soups are an excellent way to include a few types of plants and are perfect for batch cooking which makes them convenient too. Before you eat you can simply mix in a sachet of Bimuno prebiotic powder. I would also encourage using an organic bone broth as a base for flavour and also because it contains amino acids that support the health of the gut barrier which is important when we are looking to support the gut-brain connection.
“Including fermented foods also allows us to directly ingest beneficial microbes that can support our gut health which includes traditional cheese, live natural yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir. So, alongside a plant food-packed soup something like toasted sourdough with slices of cheddar could be a good way to incorporate this. Just don’t heat the cheese if you want to benefit from the good bugs.”
Key vitamins and minerals for winter health
When looking to support our immune system, Vitamins C & D and Zinc are recommended frequently. They’re essential for immune system health and for the appropriate growth and operation of immune cells. Ensuring you’re consuming enough throughout the winter is key. Particularly Vitamin C as our body cannot produce it and must instead get it from our diet or if needed a supplement.
Balanced diet – Key to a healthy life
Most of us don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, which can result in a nutritional deficiency. While maintaining a healthy balanced diet is ideal, you can also use multivitamins and or supplements to support your nutrient intake if you are struggling to get the nutrients you need from diet alone. This is crucial as we head into the winter to give your body the best chance against illnesses.
Your immune system’s health and efficiency are intimately correlated with the condition of your digestive system, with between 70%–80% of your immune cells present in the gut. While not a replacement for mental health care, a healthy gut is a crucial component of the lifestyle adjustments that the majority of people should be aiming to make to support their overall health and mental states as we head into the winter.
About the Bimuno supplement
Bimuno is a prebiotic food supplement, designed to promote gut health by feeding the “good bacteria” naturally present in the gut. It consists of a unique, high-fibre compound (B-GOS) which starts working to support the gut microbiome after just seven of the convenient sachets, with one sachet to be taken daily, aiding digestion and overall well-being. Patented in 2007 by the research team behind Clasado Biosciences, it has been subjected to academic rigour across more than 20 clinical trials, becoming the gold standard for prebiotic supplements in the UK today.
About the Bimuno company
Bimuno is developed by Clasado Biosciences, which works to improve universal well-being through increased engagement with gut health. With ease and simplicity as its watchwords, Bimuno offers to support every lifestyle, ensuring that the supplement is easy to understand and consume. Backed by an extensive research programme but led by its understanding of busy modern life, Bimuno seeks to empower the public to take positive steps towards increased wellness – without confusing jargon or complicated procedures.
The articles we publish on Psychreg are here to educate and inform. They’re not meant to take the place of expert advice. So if you’re looking for professional help, don’t delay or ignore it because of what you’ve read here. Check our full disclaimer.