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  • Elenor MacGregor

From Plate to Mind: Nourishing Gut Health for a Better Brain

Updated: May 27

A brown bowl filled with cauliflower, mushrooms, baby spinach and hummus. It sit on a napkin on top of a table with a knife and fork beside it. There are sunflower and sesame seeds scattered on top and around the bowl.
Nutrition packed veggie bowl

You might be wondering: what does all this delicious produce have to do with brain health? Well, it turns out that the gut-brain connection plays a crucial role in our overall well-being. The foods we eat, especially those rich in fiber and nutrients like the seasonal gems mentioned below have a profound impact on our gut microbiome – the diverse community of bacteria living in our digestive tract. And as emerging research suggests, a healthy gut microbiome is closely linked to better cognitive function, mood regulation, and even resilience to stress.

If your child or teen experiences headaches, stomachaches, irritability, anxiety or depression the food they are eating may be one of the root causes.

So, as we savor the seasonal delights gracing our plates, let's not forget the incredible journey these foods take from farm to table – nourishing not just our bodies, but our minds and spirits as well. Here's to embracing the beauty of seasonal eating and nurturing our gut-brain connection for optimal health and happiness. Bon appétit!

Exploring the Season's Bounty

Ah, February – a month where the chill in the air beckons for warmth and nourishment. But just because it's winter doesn't mean our plates have to lack vibrancy and flavor. In fact, this time of year offers a delightful array of seasonal produce that can elevate your meals to new heights of deliciousness. Let's take a closer look at some of the stars of the season:

▪️ Broccoli: This cruciferous gem shines when roasted in the air-fryer or stir-fried with aromatic spices.

▪️ Brussels Sprouts: Transform these mini cabbages into crispy delights by roasting them in the oven and drizzling with a savory sauce.

▪️ Cauliflower: From comforting roasted dishes to inventive cauliflower tacos, this versatile veggie knows no bounds.

▪️ Kale: Don't let the haters fool you – kale is a culinary chameleon, perfect for chips, stir-fries, or nutrient-packed smoothies.

You may notice all of the above are cruciferous vegetables which have special properties. Rich in sulforaphane, they make excellent cancer fighters. They act as antioxidants cleaning up the damage caused to cells by pollution, ultraviolet rays from too much sun, and food additives. Sulphoraphanes also protect DNA from damage, and slow tumor growth. As you can image this is helpful to boost brain health from as well as the rest of your body.

Filled with vitamin C, they boost your immune system and help wounds heal. Not only that, Vitamin C also helps with the absorption of iron. This is key for brain health because without the right amount of iron in the body it can be difficult to focus, cause brain fog, and fatigue. If the lack of iron in your body has progressed it can cause anemia (low red blood cell counts) which can cause a host of issues like lightheadedness, dizziness and even heart murmurs.

Cruciferous veggies also help to provide Vitamin B9 (folate) to the body. Low folate has been linked to depression and poor cognitive function in some studies so we really want to get enough.

But wait, there's more! Citrus fruits, squash, sweet potatoes, and other seasonal delights are also on the menu, offering a burst of flavor and a wealth of health benefits.

From vibrant cruciferous veggies to sweet and savory delights, February's produce offers a wealth of flavors and nutrients to delight our palates and nourish our bodies. But beyond the sensory pleasures of seasonal eating lies a deeper connection – one that links gut health to brain health in ways we're only beginning to understand.

So, as you indulge in the seasonal bounty gracing your plate, remember the profound impact these foods have on your gut microbiome and, by extension, your overall well-being. With each bite of broccoli or sip of citrus, you're not just nourishing your kid's bodies – you're nurturing the intricate dance of microbes that call their guts home, supporting optimal brain function and emotional resilience along the way.

If you want more information about brain health see my other helpful articles:

Dr. Ellie smiling. She is wearing a black top and is sitting by an arrangement of wheat fronds.

When you're ready here's how Dr. Ellie can help: 

When your child, teen or young adult child is grappling with focus issues, hyperactivity, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, or perfectionism you know they are suffering.  Tummy and headaches, getting sick a lot, trouble in school, and feeling run down take a toll on your child and on you. 

You want to help the ones you love ease their suffering and alleviate their symptoms by 

addressing their underlying medical conditions without going straight to adding pharmaceutical medications that can come with their own set of adverse side effects and complications.

As a holistic pediatrician, I uncover and treat the underlying root causes of symptoms while working to reduce the need for medications so they can get back to being a kid and reclaim their childhood joy. 

With advanced diagnostic testing and a personalized treatment program I take a thoughtful,  thorough, and caring medical approach to address your child’s health.  We will address genetic factors, diet, gut health, lifestyle as I walk hand in hand with you and your child toward sustainable well being, resilience, and joy.

For more information on brain health check out my other posts:

Dr. Ellie smiling. She is wearing a blue floral dress and is in front of golden foliage
Dr. Ellie

Dr. Ellie MacGregor is a holistic integrative and functional medicine pediatrician who specializes in the treatment of celiac disease, food allergies, ADHD, anxiety, depression, gut issues, eczema, and other recurring symptoms using a blend the best of conventional and alternative therapies to prioritize your child's health..  She is the owner of Middle Path Integrative Pediatrics with over 14 years of experience.  Dr. Ellie MacGregor helps readers separate fact from spin to make informed decisions about their health and the health of their children.

Get Dr. Ellie’s Guide to Whole Child Health for more information or view her website to get in touch. 


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