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There are many ways that our gut can affect our mood based on the foods we eat. We know this as the ‘gut brain axis’.

What is the gut brain axis?

The ‘gut-brain axis’ is a two-way communication system between our gut and our brain, allowing our brain to influence activities within our gut and vice versa.

Examples of this relationship include:

  • your appetite being suppressed when you are stressed;
  • butterflies in your stomach when you are nervous or anxious.

Our brain can affect our appetite and digestion. Our gut can also influence our brain and mental health.

Foods to include in your diet to support a good mood

There are foods and eating patterns that have been shown to support positive mental health outcomes. These include the Mediterranean diet and eating a diet including a wide variety of plant-based foods.


The Mediterranean diet

This diet is based on a high intake of plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil. It also includes a moderate intake of quality proteins such as seafood, lean meat and dairy and a low intake of highly processed foods.

Research has shown a link between a Mediterranean-style diet and positive mental and physical health outcomes. People who follow a Mediterranean-style diet may have reduced depressive symptoms.

An image of two elderly couple having fun in the kitchen

Mediterranean meal ideas

  • Corn tortillas
  • Quinoa burgers
  • Soba noodle ramen
  • Tofu stir fry
  • Chicken salad
  • Baked potato with bean mix

Diversity is key

Consuming a wide variety of plant-based foods has been shown to positively influence our mood and keep our gut and brain happy and functioning at their best. You increase gut diversity by having 30 or more plant foods in a week.

Plant foods are full of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Not every plant food contains the same amount of fibre or the same type of antioxidants therefore, variety is key!

Plant foods aren’t limited to just fruits and vegetables, they also include herbs, legumes, nuts, seeds, spices and wholegrains.

Smart snack ideas

  • Avocado and salmon rice cakes
  • Veggie sticks with hummus
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruit and yoghurt

Want to know more about your individual requirements? Seek support from an Accredited Practicing Dietitian.