The Link Between Gut Health and Creativity
We engage in creative thinking more often than we think. You don’t have to be a painter, hairstylist, or special effects artist to be a creative thinker. The hilarious joke you came up with this morning that made everyone in the office laugh, that took creative thinking. The tower of legos you built with your kiddos over the weekend, that took creativity too.
When do you feel most creative? After a good night’s sleep? Or maybe it’s when you eat a great, nutritious breakfast. Getting those creative juices flowing is a valuable piece of our brainpower each and every day. And do you know what can fuel your creativity? A healthy gut.
The Science Behind Gut Health and Creativity
You might notice when you eat healthy, nutritious meals, stay plenty hydrated, and get plenty of sleep, your brainpower is mighty. Your workday could be an awesome day full of great ideas. Or you might notice that you feel much more focused and productive. That’s because there’s a strong connection between our creative ideas and the health of our gut. Here’s the science behind it.
Creative thinking comes from two pathways in our brain. One of these pathways is where we can find serotonin. What is serotonin? This neurotransmitter, or chemical in the brain, has control over the sense of feeling calm and happy or feeling fearful and anxious. When our brain has plenty of serotonin, our mood is up and our memory, focus, and creativity thrive. But when we have low levels of serotonin, we might find ourselves feeling worried and anxious.
The other pathway that is linked to our creativity is where we find dopamine. Dopamine controls our emotions of boredom and lack of motivation or feeling excited, engaged, and attentive. Researchers have found that we’re at our most creative when we have increased levels of serotonin and dopamine in our brain.
The food we eat is directly related to the amount of serotonin and dopamine that travels through the pathways in our brain. Just like gut health and mental health, skin health, and sleep quality, nutrition and creativity impact one another too. The food we eat, and also the time of day we eat, affects the function of our brain.
You can improve your mood and increase these happy hormones in your brain by eating plenty of gut-healthy foods.
Creativity In The Morning
Like we said, not only does food have direct effects on our gut health and creativity, the time of day is correlated to getting our creative juices flowing too. Serotonin levels tend to naturally be the highest in the morning. Because of this, our brains are much sharper and ready to focus in the morning than they are later in the afternoon after a long day of decision making, creative thinking, and problem-solving.
Start your morning with a gut-friendly, high-protein breakfast. Blend up Rowdy's favorite summer breakfast acai bowl to start your day feeling creative and inspired. And schedule your next brainstorm in the morning—see what kind of creative ideas you can come up with.
What Can Damage Our Gut and Decrease Our Creative Thinking?
Stress, lack of sleep, decreased movement, an unhealthy gut—they can all affect the way our creative brain functions. We want to stay away from unhealthy foods—things that are processed, high in sugar, and are high on the glycemic index—as well as get plenty of sleep and decrease our stress.
When the gut is loaded with processed, sugary, and high-carbohydrate foods, they’re digested very quickly by the body. When our body digests these processed sugars quickly, it leads to a quick spike in blood sugar followed by a nasty sugar crash. These foods are high on the glycemic index and when we experience this high-glycemic sugar crash, our brain function slows down and crashes too. Little creativity is flowing through the brain’s pathways when we fill our body full of these gut-buster foods.
Lack Of Sleep
Have you ever had a night where you toss and turn, are wide awake, or just don’t feel like you’ve had a good night’s sleep? We’ve all had a night like this and it usually has you feeling sluggish the next day. Sleep is just as important as food and water for regulating those happy hormones. Without enough sleep, we find ourselves having an increased appetite, an unproductive day, and low physical readiness. Lack of sleep can be caused by an unhealthy gut. When the gut is full of too much bad bacteria, it causes stress and inflammation on our body and impacts our sleep. And that directly impacts our brain function and creativity too.
Stressors in our lives are not always avoidable, but limiting the ones we have control over can do wonders for our gut health and creative thinking. When our body experiences high levels of stress, it impacts the body’s inflammation and therefore also affecting the balance and function of our microbiota and digestion. Try your best to reduce as many controllable stressors from your day as possible to increase your brain’s pathway functions.
Related Articles to Learn More About How The Gut Impacts Other Parts Of The Body
Foods For Creativity
Excessive amounts of added sugar, trans-fat, processed foods, and salt can make the brain feel sluggish because of the impact these foods have on our serotonin and dopamine levels. But the good news is, there’s a long list of healthy, gut-friendly foods that boost creativity and improve brain function.
Here’s a list of foods for creative thought:
Processed and sugary foods cause spikes in blood sugar, which lead to sugar crashes and decreased productivity. Eating more low-sugar fruits, like berries, boosts flavonoids in the gut. These flavonoids increase blood flow and help the brain with sharp, creative focus. Plus berries are high in antioxidants too, which give the gut a healthy boost and protect its lining. Try one of Rowdy’s Blueberry Almond Tart bars or a Sunflower Butter N’ Berries.
Dark Leafy Green Vegetables
Just like berries, incorporating more low-sugar fruits and vegetables into your daily diet means you’re likely to eat less processed sugar. Veggies boost flavonoids too and are also high in antioxidants. The lining of the gut will be protected and the friendly bacteria that lives in the gut will flourish.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are high in many vitamins that boost the functionality of our brains. Thiamine, zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Omega-6 fatty acids are all key components of many nuts and seeds. The fatty acids and healthy vitamins in these gut-friendly ingredients play an important role in productive brain function and help build healthy creative pathways. Rowdy Bars are packed full of healthy nuts and seeds. Give any of our four flavors a try and boost your creative thinking.
Yep, that’s right! This healthy sweet is just that—healthy. That’s why we fill our Peanutty Dark Chocolate bar full of dark chocolatey goodness. The healthy bacteria in our gut are big fans of munching on dark chocolate. This gut-friendly snack is rich in prebiotic compounds called flavonols and polyphenols. When these dark chocolate ingredients reach the gut, probiotics, or healthy gut bacteria, feed off of those prebiotics, giving them the energy they need to populate the gut with more healthy bacteria. And remember, a happy gut means a creative brain.