8 dietary hacks to help restore gut health and mental well-being

The gut-brain axis is a bidirectional communication network between the gastrointestinal system and the brain. This connection plays a crucial role in regulating both physical and mental health. Making dietary changes can not only help restore gut health but also positively impact mental well-being. 


As a nutritionist and health coach specialising in this area, I can tell you there’s a lot to be said for making some changes that are right for you with regards to what you eat, and how you take care of the rest of your life rather than relying on the advice you’ve heard from other people or online about how someone fixed themselves. 

So, here are my top nutrition hacks and suggestions to get you back to feeling a calmer human being again.

1. Limit caffeine

In some people, reducing or cutting out caffeine in coffee and tea can help reduce anxiety. If you know that caffeine affects you negatively (e.g. keeps you up all night or makes you feel more anxious) then cutting down is a good idea. Caffeine can increase gut motility, potentially leading to digestive discomfort and affecting the gut-brain axis.

Opting for caffeine-free herbal teas can provide soothing benefits for both the gut and the mind. However, it doesn’t affect everyone, so please keep drinking it as it’s a good source of polyphenols, which your gut microbiome metabolises into health-promoting chemicals.

2. Moderate alcohol intake

Excessive alcohol consumption disrupts the gut microbiota balance and compromises gut barrier function (aka 'leaky gut'). By reducing alcohol intake, you can promote a healthier gut environment, allowing beneficial bacteria to thrive. This, in turn, supports the gut-brain axis, positively influencing mental well-being.

3. Opt for low glycaemic load (GL) foods

Choosing low-GL foods, such as whole grains and pulses, helps stabilise blood sugar levels and supports gut health. By avoiding blood sugar spikes and crashes, you reduce stress on the gut and minimise inflammation that could negatively impact the gut-brain axis.

4. Avoid processed and sugary foods

Processed foods and refined sugars disrupt gut microbial diversity and contribute to inflammation. Scientists have found a link between inflammation and mental health conditions, like anxiety. By choosing whole, unprocessed foods and natural sweeteners, you create an environment in the gut that supports the growth of beneficial bacteria, positively impacting both gut health and mental health.

5. Consume probiotic-rich foods

Probiotics, found in fermented foods like yoghurt and sauerkraut can help restore gut health by replenishing beneficial bacteria. These beneficial bacteria can enhance gut barrier function and modulate neurotransmitter production, positively influencing mental well-being.

6. Prioritise omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids not only have anti-inflammatory effects on the gut but also support brain health. By incorporating foods rich in omega-3s, such as fatty fish and walnuts, you nourish the gut while promoting optimal brain function and reducing anxiety symptoms.

7. Increase magnesium-rich foods

Magnesium plays a vital role in gut motility, relaxation, and neurotransmitter regulation. Consuming magnesium-rich foods, like leafy greens and nuts, helps maintain a healthy gut-brain axis by supporting gut function and promoting a calm state of mind.

8. Stay hydrated

Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining a healthy gut and facilitating optimal brain function. Proper hydration supports the movement of nutrients and waste products through the gut and aids in the production of neurotransmitters. By staying hydrated, you promote a thriving gut-brain axis.

When I see clients, I often discuss and recommend specialised functional testing. It can help you identify if you are deficient in any nutrients important for your brain health, and identify whether you are likely to have gut microbiomes that may be contributing to inflammation.

In addition, I can help you identify if you have any other potential conditions that mirror anxiety. In my clinic, I often see better results more quickly by adopting a more holistic approach that incorporates, diet, lifestyle and targeted supplements based on your unique profile which can be assessed via functional testing.

By working with a trained nutrition professional, you can receive personalised guidance to restore gut health and support mental well-being. 

By making dietary changes focused on gut health, you can simultaneously improve mental well-being. The gut-brain axis serves as a vital link, and nurturing this connection through a balanced diet helps create an environment that supports optimal physical and mental health. Incorporate these dietary hacks into your lifestyle and enjoy the benefits of a thriving gut-brain axis.

To find out more about how I can help you, please schedule a complimentary call today.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW15 & W1H
Written by Melody Mackeown, mBANT, CNHC, BSEM | Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach
London SW15 & W1H

Melody Mackeown is a Nutritional Therapist who works across the UK and worldwide.

If you are looking to work with an expert who can help you figure out the best foods for you without the guesswork or faddy diets you are in the right place. Together, we can help figure out the root cause of your digestive problems and find effective solutions.

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