Food not only affects overall health, but also the function of the brain (Hello! HPO!) and fertility, and if you know anything about female fertility-related anatomy, the brain is a pretty big part of the process as it not only contains the hypothalamus and the pituitary, which are in constant communication with the ovaries, but it is also the number one organ that gets turned on during reproduction. And as Dr. Perlmutter writes in his new book on health and nutrition, a healthy brain starts with a healthy gut. Certain gut microbes (which outnumber our body cells 10 to 1) can alter one’s brain and increase function, ultimately effecting one’s fertility. And this isn’t some new fertility or health theory – this idea has been around for a long, long time, with the father of modern medicine Hippocrates: “All disease begins in the gut.”
The gut is essentially a second brain and when it’s healthy, your fertility and your mood are improved, not to mention other health issues, like auto-immunity, PCOS or weight issues. When it comes to mood the research is pretty strong. The stomach actually creates most of our serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, so if our gut is out of whack, so is our brain, our mood and even our fertility. It’s not just the central nervous system that is important – the enteric nervous system is just as important, linking our gut to our brain through the vagus nerve.
So if you are sick, depressed, tired or infertile, there are some basic things you can do right away to reverse the degeneration of your brain, your mind and your reproductive system. Re-colonizing that microbiome with good bacteria is a start, and the first way to begin this is by cutting our processed foods and going for something more like a mediterranean diet, with lots of natural fruits and vegetables, fish and nuts. Plant-based polyphenols found in berries, tea and spices like curcumin can also have a beneficial effect on gut health. Adding in foods that are rich in probiotics can change your gut health in two weeks. Foods like yogurt, kimchi and kombucha can jump start the probiotic levels in your gut and get you on the fast track to better brain health and improved fertility.