For the longest time, we’ve all looked at the traditional food pyramid as an ideal healthy diet. However, over time, the standards of what was once considered healthy have changed. Enter the psychobiotic food pyramid, a way of eating based on the gut-brain connection more than anything else.
From heart health, skin appearance, hormones, stress, sleep, and even mental health, the gut is connected to all. Based on this premise, the psychobiotic food pyramid aims to protect our gut health from promoting overall well-being and health.
Most of us know psychobiotics as probiotics or live bacteria that, when ingested, improve gut bacteria. The term was made famous by the book The Psychobiotic Revolution, which explains the new food pyramid and how our gut health connects to our psychological wellbeing. However, further research suggests that the concept of psychobiotics needs to include prebiotic. Primarily because prebiotic supports the growth of fundamental commensal bacteria.
The Undeniable Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis
Every microorganism living in our intestinal tracts are what make up the gut microbiome. The key to understanding psychobiotics is to understand the gut-brain axis.
So far, most of the research conducted to understand the effects of Psychobiotics is done on rodents. However, so far, studies have shown a positive association with mental health conditions like depression and reduction of anxiety, without antidepressant actions.
Human research about probiotics is limited, and sample sizes are small. However, a well-known study found that those consuming a blend of probiotics showed significant declines in self-reported negative mood and distress. The same study noted that those in the probiotic group also showed lower levels of free cortisol, which is suggestive of reduced stress levels.
How to Use the Psychobiotic Food Pyramid
For those looking to adopt a gut health-based diet, basing food selection on the psychobiotic food pyramid can prove helpful. As always, always consult with a doctor before making any drastic diet changes to prevent vitamin deficiency and other adverse effects.
Layer 1: Sweets & Red Meats
Consume: Once a week
Layer 2: Poultry & Eggs
Consume: Twice to three times a week
Notice that your poultry and eggs section is also limited to about three servings per week. Try to incorporate moderate portions into your weekly diet. Dairy products also fall under this category, but they should be limited.
Layer 3: Fish & Seafood
Consume: Twice to five times a week
An essential element in the Mediterranean diet, fish and seafood should be more prominent in your diet, aiming for at least two servings per week. Rich in omegas and other gut-boosting properties, fish are a must-have in every diet.
Layer 4: Fermented Foods
Consume: Every day
Here’s what differentiates the psychobiotic food pyramid from the traditional one. Fermented foods are known for their rich pre- and probiotic content, both associated with improved gut health and a healthy gut microbiome balance.
Layer 5: Seeds, Nuts, Herbs & Healthy Oils
Consume: One serving per day
Use this layer to base your meals on these foods. Choose healthy oils, such as olive oil. Add nuts, legumes, herbs, and seeds known for their anti-inflammatory properties, including almonds, sunflower seeds, and oregano.
Layer 6: Grains, Veggies & Fruits
Consume: With every meal
Do your best to incorporate these foods into every single one of your meals. Add whole grains such as quinoa and oats. Complete your salads with beans such as chickpeas for optimal gut health. Make sure each of your meals contains a serving of vegetables, either cooked or raw from all parts of the color spectrum. Finally, fruits either fresh or frozen and organic when possible, will help complete your food pyramid.
A Word from GR8NESS
A complete and balanced diet is always the best way to eat for your gut health. However, if you choose to follow a set diet such as veganism, the keto diet, or trending diets such as the Whole30 and Paleo diets, remember to add probiotics to your supplement list to ensure a balanced gut microbiota. As always, speak with your doctor about the best practices to eat for your gut health.