How Mindful Eating Affects the Brain-Gut-Microbiome Axis

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Presented by Caroline Baerten, MA, RD on August 29, 2019

In recent years, we have seen increasing research within biopsychology on the interactions between the brain, the gut, the bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract, and the bidirectional relationship between these systems: the brain–gut–microbiome axis. The gut microbiota can impact upon cognition and emotions. Feelings of stress and stress-related behaviors do have a direct influence on the micro-organisms in the gut.

Top down, on neurological level our brains and eating behaviour can be altered through Mindfulness meditation practices. Bottom-up, nourishing the microbiome with healthy foods will at the one hand strengthen specific areas in the brain, and at the other hand support feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonine.

Mindful eating, as an intervention for disturbed eating behavior, aimed at ameliorating disorders in both parts of the brain–gut– microbiome axis; bringing awareness to psychological aspects of eating (e.g. emotional eating) and at the same time re-connecting with the physical and sensorial relationship with foods and body. Disturbed eating behaviour represents a dysbalance on the axis, rather than an isolated problem either of psychology or of gastrointestinal function.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understanding the brain-gut-microbiome axis in relationship with eating
  2. Learning new tools to intervene on top-down and bottom-up level
  3. Describing how mindful eating could be a useful mediator between brain and gut

Since 2009, Caroline Baerten is the founder of MeNu, Centre for Mindful Eating and Nutrition, in the heart of Europe (Brussels). She works as a Mindfulness-based nutritionist/RD, integrative psychotherapist, and additionally runs since 2017 her own plant-based fine dining restaurant in Brussels (humus x hortense). She is the first certified Mindful Eating, Conscious Living teacher (ME-CL) worldwide and offers also Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindful Self-Compassion courses to her clients.

Her expertise lies mainly in the domain of eating disorders, mindfulness for trauma-focused care (EMDR) and compassion-focused therapy. Caroline Baerten is since 2013 board member of The Center for Mindful Eating, speaks regularly at conferences, and offers mentoring in mindful eating through e-coaching.

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