Our dietary habits have a complex and direct impact on our health and wellbeing. So much so, that researchers around the world are continually studying the relationship between what we eat and its effects on our bodies and minds.
Today we'll look at three brand new studies that reveal previously unknown aspects of that relationship.
First, you'll learn about the link between bone quality and the bacteria that live in your gut. Then you'll find out how your mood and your eating habits are connected. Finally, we'll look at a study about how a certain type of diet can exacerbate chronic pain and what to do about it.
Gut Microbiome May Be Key To Bone Health
Researchers at Cornell University have received a five-year, $3.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the relationship between the gut microbiome and bone quality.
The gut microbiome is the collection of bacteria that live in our digestive system. Incredibly, more than a thousand types of bacteria call our gut home. The health of our gut microbiome has an impact on aging, inflammatory diseases, and even our bones.
Lead researcher Christopher J. Hernandez is an expert in bone biomechanics. But now he's turning his attention to bacteria. He suspects that there's a direct relationship between bone quality and the ability of gut bacteria to produce Vitamin K.
“While most researchers and pharmaceutical companies focus on improving bone health and performance by making bone material denser, this project takes a different tack.
“Our data is not suggesting a change in density. It’s suggesting that the gut microbiome is actually regulating the bone material itself and can weaken it,” Hernandez said. “We also have some early evidence to suggest that it can make it stronger too, depending on what gut microbe is involved in changing the bone matrix. And so we’re excited about that because it’s a novel way of improving the bone.”
A therapeutic treatment that targets the gut microbiome would be long-lasting and self-sustaining, so people suffering from osteoporosis, for example, wouldn’t need to take daily pills or injections.”1
Like many elements of our health, our gut microbiome responds to our diet. We already know that certain probiotic strains, such as L. Rhamnosus, protect against bone loss, but this study will most likely uncover many more.
It's also encouraging to see new research that looks beyond bone density to evaluate the health of our bones. This more holistic and scientifically accurate perspective is aligned with the Save Institute's approach to preventing and reversing osteoporosis.
Researchers have been awarded a grant to conduct studies on the relationship between the gut microbiome and bone quality. They'll be examining the thousands of types of beneficial bacteria that live in our digestive system– helping us to understand which ones are important for bone health.
Study Finds Bad Moods Influence Eating Habits
The gut microbiome also has an impact on our mental health. This explains the results of a recent survey that asked participants which strategies they use to get out of a bad mood.
Two thousand participants answered questions about how they try to cheer up when they're feeling down. The survey found that 43 percent of respondents will “eat something” to make themselves feel better. About half of those respondents said they reach for a “sweet treat“, and 38 percent opted for a “salty snack”.
Only 25 percent of people polled believed that their diet has an impact on their long-term mental health. They tended to blame their bad moods on poor sleep, negative life events, or stress. When asked about their long-term strategies for improving their mental health, the respondents focused on improving their sleep or their exercise routines.
Far fewer participants cited a healthy diet as a way to improve their mood. In spite of that, a whopping 72 percent of participants admitted that they often feel better when they eat healthier foods.
“Eating a variety of nutritionally dense foods and limiting consumption of damaging foods, like sugars and highly processed foods, helps the body and mind operate at their best,” Pavlica adds. “You can support your physical and mental health by dramatically increasing your consumption of colorful vegetables at every meal, and by taking a daily probiotic. These support the microbiome and provide the body with needed nutrients…”
“Serotonin, the hormone that influences mood and feelings of happiness, is regulated by the gut. When the microbiome of the digestive system is optimized, all the body’s systems work better — including the brain.”2
This survey showed that people aren't aware of the positive effects our diets can have to help us feel better both mentally and emotionally. Supporting the health of your gut microbiome by eating probiotic-rich foods and taking probiotic supplements is not only good for your digestion, but it's also good for your mental health.
A survey found that when people are in a bad mood they tend to reach for sweet or salty snacks. And that their long-term solutions for poor mental health didn't include positive dietary changes. However, our gut microbiome plays an important role in brain health. Eating probiotic-rich foods can support your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Study Finds Link Between High Fat Diet And Chronic Pain
A study published in the journal Nature Metabolism has found a link between diets high in Omega-6 fatty acids and increased chronic pain. The study, which was conducted with mice, confirmed that for many conditions, diet is an active factor in regulating inflammation and pain.
This diet high in unhealthy fats mirrors the average Western diet and can reveal the impact that it has on us. For people who experience chronic pain, such a diet could increase pain.
Fortunately, a dietary change can offer relief. The study found that increasing the intake of Omega-3 fatty acids reduced pain.
“Ditching a Western high-fat diet, and particularly reducing omega-6 intake and increasing omega-3 lipids (the so-called “healthy” fats such as those found in olive oil and walnuts), greatly reduced pain conditions in those suffering from conditions such as obesity and diabetes, the study found. The researchers also discovered that levels of omega-6 lipids in individuals with Type 2 diabetic neuropathic pain were associated with higher pain levels and the need for taking analgesic drugs.”3
Reducing the need for pain management drugs has direct health benefits. Painkillers contribute to acidification that leads to bone loss. Additionally, they have their own list of negative side-effects. But a change for the better in diet exclusively offers health benefits– including support for stronger, more resilient bones.
A study conducted on mice found that a diet high in Omega-6 fatty acids contributed to pain. Increasing Omega-3 fats, sometimes called “healthy” fats, reduced pain. This shift to a more balanced diet also benefits bone health.
What This Means To You
Your diet and your gut health are paramount when it comes to building stronger bones and living a healthier life. From regulating mood to managing pain– these studies further confirm the power of food to help you feel better and live better.
The Save Institute created a bone-healthy cookbook and meal planner to make it easy and simple for you to follow a healthy diet. Bone Appétit contains more than 200 recipes specially designed to support your bones with pH-balanced and 100% alkalizing recipes. You'll find recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, and plenty of main courses, including fish, poultry, and beef, and even an entire dessert section.
You don't have to choose between enjoying food and eating healthy. In fact, it's essential that you don't. Instead, pursue the path that allows you to love eating the food that makes you feel good and maintain your health.