What do you do when your mood is off or you’re stressed to the max?

Eat ice cream? Binge watch Netflix? Call your bestie?

After reading this article, you may consider yoghurt, a handful of walnuts, or maybe even some dark chocolate as your go-to mood-boosters and stress-busters.

Today, we’ll unpack some of the exciting (and preliminary) new research about the link between your gut health and moods/stress.

We’ll talk about your friendly resident gut microbes (mostly bacteria), probiotic foods and supplements, as well as foods to feed those gut microbes and probiotics (aka “prebiotics”).


Oh, our friendly “gut microbes.”

They are the trillions of microbes that happily live in our gut. They help us by digesting foods, making vitamins, and even protecting us from the not-so-friendly microbes that may get in there.

Believe it or not, these friendly microbes have mood-boosting and stress-busting functions too!

FUN FACT: There are more microbes inside our gut than all of the human cells that make us. Yup, we’re more than half microbe! So, how can they NOT impact our health?

It’s a hotbed of research right now and we’re finding out more about their awesome health, and mood/stress benefits every day.

And, while the research is just starting to figure out the many gut microbe-brain connections, it’s such a cool new topic that I couldn’t wait to share it with you!


The microbes that live in our guts are known as our “gut microbiota”.

The microbes that we can ingest are known as “probiotics”.

“Probiotics” are live organisms that you can eat, drink, or take as a supplement. They’re what turn milk into yoghurt, and cabbage into sauerkraut; and they are great for both your gut health and mental health.

Special probiotics that have mental health benefits are called “psychobiotics,” (psycho = mental health, and biotics = live). They’re live organisms that can benefit our psyche.

So, what’s the link between gut microbes, probiotics, and moods/stress?


Stress can affect our friendly gut microbes.

Several studies show that stressed rodents not only have increased stress hormones and stressed behaviours; but, they also have different gut microbes!

And this has been studied, to a small extent, in people too.

One study showed that moms with high levels of stress hormones during pregnancy had infants with more of the “bad” gut microbes.

But, can it work the other way around? Can changing our gut microbes affect our moods and stress responses?

Studies of rodents that grow up without any gut microbes at all (in a “bacteria-free” environment) respond to stress more than mice with normal gut microbes. Then, when they’re given either a probiotic or gut microbes from non-stressed mice, their stress responses often go back to normal.

The gut microbe, probiotic, and mood/stress connections are starting to get interesting, aren’t they?


“Gut microbiota and probiotics alter behaviour and brain neurochemistry.” (Ait-Belgnaoui, et. al., 2012)

That’s a pretty powerful statement, don’tcha think?

Many animal studies show positive effects on behaviour when they get probiotic supplements.

For example, after probiotic stressed rats had lower levels of both stress hormones and an inflammatory molecule associated with depression (“LPS” – lipopolysaccharide).

Human studies show that after a few weeks of taking probiotic foods or supplements, healthy people have reduced stress hormones, feelings of stress, negative thoughts, and sad moods.

One fascinating study showed that when people took probiotics, brain MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) tests showed reduced brain activity for negative and aggressive thoughts!

So, as you can see, there is some exciting research on the positive effect that probiotics can have on moods and stress.

You might be wondering how exactly your gut can influence your moods…



It may not seem obvious or intuitive, but your body is interconnected in many ways.

And more and more research is figuring out the “microbiota-gut-brain axis.” It’s the very complex connection between your gut, its microbes, and your brain.

This new field has been called a “paradigm shift in neuroscience” (Dinan, 2017).

In fact, there are a number of ways that we’re beginning to understand how our gut microbes can affect our brain.

One is via the “vagus” nerve, which is a nerve that directly connects your gut to your brain.

The other ways are through “biochemical messengers.” Biochemicals that are made in your gut and travel through the body to communicate with other parts, including your brain. Biochemicals like short chain fatty acids, cytokines, and even tryptophan (the amino acid that the neurotransmitters melatonin and serotonin are made from).

The exciting thing is that this may help us with not only moods and stress, but the microbiota-gut-brain axis may one day prove to be helpful for other conditions like autism and Parkinson’s.

So, your trillions of gut microbes seem to be more closely interconnected with our moods than we used to think.

So, what can you do to nurture your own healthy gut microbes?



First, eat (and drink) probiotics.

Probiotics can be eaten in yoghurt, sauerkraut (and other fermented veggies), miso, tempeh, and kimchi. You can drink them in kefir or kombucha. Be sure to choose unpasteurized ones that will be refrigerated in your local grocer.

Of course, there are a number of probiotic supplements available too. Look for one that’s refrigerated and has at least 10 billion active cultures. I also suggest you look for one that has been “third-party tested,” which means someone outside the company has tested it and says it’s a quality product.

Oh, and always read the label before taking any supplements.

The probiotics with the most research are of the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus types. But we still don’t know enough about the psychobiotic effects to make specific mood-boosting recommendations…just yet.



Second, consider that our resident gut microbes don’t just live inside us to help us – they get something out of the deal too.


PREbiotics are “compounds that, when fermented in the gut, produce specific changes in bacterial composition or activity”. They are your friendly gut microbes’ favourite delicacies so they’ll happily grow, and multiply.

Prebiotics are basically foods that contain fibre. Things like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Even dark chocolate (preferably with at least 70% cocoa).

Giving animals prebiotics can reduce stress hormones and anxiety-related behaviours.

And in people, studies show that taking psychobiotics along with prebiotics can improve both the microbes in our gut, as well as our mood.

How amazing is that?


The science behind interactions of gut microbes and mental health is still new and ongoing. Much of it is in rodents, with a few studies in people. Some show interesting links and promising potential to help with moods and other areas of mental and brain health.

More research, especially in humans, is needed; so I’ll be on the lookout for new studies in this young and promising area of mood-boosting and stress-busting nutrition.

What if one day we were able to help mental health by fixing gut health? What an amazing, and less moody, world that could be!

Try eating more probiotics like in yoghurt, kefir, miso, kimchi, and kombucha. Consider taking probiotic supplements (making sure you read the label and follow directions).

And don’t forget their favourite foods called prebiotics. Those are in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (and even dark chocolate).

Optimize your gut for more than just gut health, but mood-boosting and stress-busting too.


Buh bye blah moods.




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“Inner Mean Girl” vs “Inner Cheerleader”.

In clinic I often find my clients being very hard on themselves. They focus on what they did or are doing wrong and can only see the negative side of things.

From where I am sitting I see something completely different in them, I see a person that is taking charge of their health, someone strong, someone who is motivated, someone really trying to make a difference in their lives. In my eyes they are fantastic. I often wish they could see themselves through my eyes.

I myself am not immune to this negative self-talk and If you are like most people, you know your inner critic all too well. It is the voice inside your head that judges you, doubt’s you, cuts you down, and constantly tells you that you are not good enough.

We all possess an inner critic or what I like to call the “Inner mean girl”. We experience this “voice” as a negative internal narration of who we are and how we behave.

Common “Inner Mean Girl” comments include:

“You never do anything right”

“You will never succeed”

” You’re ugly”

“You’re so stupid”

“You’re fat”

“There is something wrong with you”

Times, when you are feeling stressed or depressed, is when your “Inner Mean Girl” becomes a real nag who exaggerates everything and interprets everything in a negative way. What makes it worse is that your “Inner Mean Girl” can make you feel like these thoughts are true even when you are completely wrong.

Let me ask you a question. Would you talk to another person like that? If you told your best friend she was too fat, she had a fat bum, or she was not good enough! how do you think that would make her feel?… It would really hurt her feelings am I right? Now, why would you talk to yourself that way?

Like it or not, everything you say to yourself matters. The “Inner Mean Girl” isn’t harmless. it discourages you, limits you, and stops you from living the life you truly deserve. it cheats you of peace of mind and emotional well-being and, if left long enough, it can even lead to mental health problems like depression or anxiety.

Negative self-talk is never in your interest. There is always a kinder, more compassionate way to treat yourself that doesn’t involve negative labels and self-destructive mindsets. In any given situation there is always a silver lining.

Here are four steps that will help you silence your “Inner Mean girl” :

  1. Notice the “Inner mean girl”.

To gain control over your inner critic you must first be aware of it. I have given my “Inner Mean girl” a name “Regina”. Much of our thinking is so automatic and happening so fast that we barely notice it before we move on to the next thought.

Making the conscious effort to slow down and pay more attention to your thoughts will help you notice when the “Inner Mean girl” is present. Your emotions will also alert you to the presence of the “Inner Mean girl”. Negative emotions such as doubt, guilt, shame, and worthlessness are almost always signs of the “Inner Mean girl” at work.

When I start to have these feelings, I know that “Regina” is at it again. Once you are aware of “Inner Mean girl”, you will be able to stand up to it.

  1. Talkback.

Talking back to your “Inner Mean girl” is an important part of taking away its power. Simply telling the “Inner Mean girl” you don’t want to hear what it has to say begins to give you a sense of choice in the matter. When you hear the “Inner Mean girl” start to speak, tell it to go away. Tell it you refuse to listen. Tell it that you know it is a Liar. Tell it you are choosing to be kind to yourself.

  1. Summon your “Inner Cheerleader”

The best way to defeat the “Inner Mean girl” is to have an even stronger ally on your side. You need to summon your “Inner Cheerleader” it is the inner voice that acts as your own best friend. To do this, you need to start noticing the good things about yourself. No matter what the “Inner Mean girl” has told you, you do have positive attributes, although it may take you some effort to start to see them for yourself.

Things your “Inner Cheerleader” should say:

“Failure is a great opportunity to learn. Without it, you will never succeed.”

“You can do this ! you are doing great.”

“You never really know what other people think of you. In any case, everyone interprets things in their own unique way.”

“If you have done it before, you can do it again.”

“Let’s tackle this from a different perspective.”

“You can always improve so keep trying”

“You may not have lost weight, but you did exercise and plan your meals if you keep going you will reach your goals.”

  1. Use “I am” affirmations

Affirmations are “I am”statements that you repeat out loud or in your mind. They are incredibly powerful. I notice a difference in my inner voice when I haven’t used affirmations for a few days. You can use my list of affirmations or write your own on a sticky note and stick it to your bathroom mirror.

Repeat these “I am” statements to yourself as you get ready in the morning:

“Every day in every way, I am healthier and stronger.”

“I am well. I am in perfect health.”

“I am surrounded by people who encourage me to be healthy. “

“I am grateful for my healthy body. Peace flows through my body, mind and soul.” 

“I am pain-free and completely in sync with life.”

“I am grateful to be alive. It is my joy and pleasure to live another wonderful day.”

I encourage you to turn positive beliefs into your daily mantra. Clear your mind of all the negative thoughts of your “Inner Mean girl” and replace them with the inspiring, loving, encouraging, and beautiful thoughts of your “Inner Cheerleader”.When you do you will create space in your mind, in your heart, and in your life for happiness, prosperity, and health.


I want to tell you my story !! about how I did it, how I lost 25 kilos and completely turned my health around.

As a teenager, I had always been thin, and I’d never really had to watch what I ate, I played netball throughout high school, but I never really exercised much after that. Even in my early twenties, I managed to keep a steady weight despite a lot of partying and drinking, hell I even travelled around Australia, New Zealand and Europe living pretty much on a diet of two-minute noodles and boxed wine.

It was in my late 20s with the pregnancy of my son that things started to change. I’d never thought about the impact of what I ate on my health and let me tell you. I took that saying, “you’re eating for two now” literally. I was eating KFC on my lunch breaks and ducking into Baskin Robins for ice-cream nearly every second day. It didn’t help that my workmates would bring me mud cake to work either.

I still remember the day of my last prenatal appointment I stood on the scales and was mortified I had gained 25 kilos !! in 8 months!!! I felt horrible, I hated the way I looked and felt, and I was disappointed that I’d let myself go. Still all my friends and family assured me that the weight would go once my son was born.

Pregnancy for me wasn’t like the story’s people tell you. I think Wendy said it best in one of my favourite movies What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

 “I just wanted the glow — the one that they promise you on the cover of those magazines. Well, I’m calling it: Pregnancy sucks! Making a human being is hard, I have no control over my body or my emotions. I’m sorry, all I want to do is punch you in the face…”

And then it came the day I had been waiting 8 months for, labour day !! yes !!! I was ready to get that baby out of me. I had a birth plan no drugs and a natural birth, well that plan went out the window after about 18 hours of labour !! but then another 18 hours later my little bundle of joy was in my arms and the horrible 36-hour labour was behind me.

I loved being a new mum after all I had the most beautiful baby in the world. But the pregnancy had left me completely drained. I started to feel really depressed, I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror let alone go clothes shopping with my girlfriends or have my picture taken. I fell down a deep hole of self-pity and it felt to me like I would never get out. It got so bad that it was affecting my relationship with my partner.

This was the point that I knew I had to change I had to do something, anything and if not for myself than for my son and partner. So, I picked myself up and I started exercising 5 days a week, I did that for six months and NOTHING I didn’t lose any weight. I couldn’t believe it I’d worked so hard and I hadn’t lost a single kilo!!

Then one day I attended a health expo and as we were walking around enjoying the stalls I came across a stall that was promoting bachelor’s degree in Nutritional medicine. It instantly peaked my interest I wanted to learn more maybe not for a career but to change my own personal situation. After taking some time to think about it I enrolled. This is when the magic happened!!

I was learning so much about nutrition and how vitally important it was to health and well-being and not just for weight-loss but for all aspects of health. I started implementing all the information I was learning into my own lifestyle, I started a whole food diet and began training with a personal trainer.

Now it still wasn’t easy I had to work very hard. I still remember putting my adorable little bub in his playpen while I jumped rope and did burpees in the backyard. I also had to start cooking meals from scratch and avoiding all pre-packaged foods, but I was determined !!!

Within about three months I started to notice my clothes getting looser, I had more energy and I was starting to feel happy again. Still, the weight loss was slow, but I didn’t give up. I keep pushing myself to do better and eat better. After 12 months I had done it I lost it all the whole 25kgs and some and I was in the best shape of my life.

I was sold !! the proof was right in front of me “you are what you eat”.

Fast-forward to today my son is 9 years old and I’m a qualified clinical nutritionist with my very own nutrition practice. I’ve kept the weight off and I’m living life to the fullest. You might be wondering why I’ve decided to share my personal story with you.

Well, I wanted to let you know that if you’ve ever felt depressed, if you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, if you think it’s too hard to change or if you have tried everything to lose weight but still haven’t. I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL. I know what it feels like to hate the way you look. I know what it feels like to work hard and get no results. I know what it feels like to stand in that changeroom with those giant mirrors and cry because nothing fits.  It SUCKS !!!

But I want to reassure you whatever you do, don’t give up !! keep trying, keep pushing yourself to do better and eat better. Because I know that you CAN change, you CAN feel happier and you CAN learn to love your body again. After all, if I can do it anyone CAN.



I have been making these beauties for Marion Personal Training and they are delicious. Make sure you are using natural peanut butter with no added sugar or salt.


1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats

1 cup Pitted Dates

1 cup Natural Peanut Butter

1/2 cup Desiccated Coconut

1/3 cup Chocolate Chips

1/4 cup Whey, Rice or Pea Protein Powder

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

pinch of salt.


Mix all ingredients in a food processor until combined. Roll the mixture into balls (about a dessert spoon per ball). Put in the fridge or freezer to set!!

SERVES: 24 balls




Serving Size: 2


This smoothie is one of my absolute favourites and is perfect for a warm spring or summer day.  Pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. It is also a very good source of copper and a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B6, dietary fibre, folate and pantothenic acid.the pineapple core is full of the healthy enzyme bromelain, it helps with digesting and has anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

Matcha tea is packed with antioxidants including the powerful EGCg. This antioxidant can help boost metabolism, detoxify your body and provides plenty of vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium.


  • 2 cups chopped frozen pineapple
  • 500ml coconut water
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tsp matcha tea powder
  • 1/2 cup of ice


  1. Put the pineapple, coconut water, mint, lime juice and zest, maple syrup, ice and matcha tea powder in the blender and process until almost smooth.
  2. Pour into glass and add a little extra chopped pineapple and mint leaves to garnish.
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