Nourishing the Gut for a Healthy Mind: Celebrating World Health Day 2024

On World Health Day 2024, let’s delve into the fascinating world of our gut microbiome and its profound impact on our overall well-being. The gut microbiome, a complex ecosystem of microorganisms residing in our digestive tract, is an integral part of our health that influences everything from our metabolism to our mood. Understanding the gut-brain axis and nurturing our gut health through nutrition can lead to a happier, healthier life.


The gut-brain axis is a bidirectional communication network that links the enteric nervous system of the gut with the central nervous system of the brain. This intricate relationship means that our gut health can influence our mental state, earning the gut the nickname “the second brain.” The gut microbiota plays a pivotal role in this axis, producing various neurotransmitters and signalling molecules that can affect brain function and mood.


So, how can we support this crucial aspect of our health through diet? Here are some practical tips for fostering a healthy gut microbiome:

  1. Boost Fibre Intake: Incorporate a variety of high-fibre foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. These act as prebiotics, feeding the good bacteria in your gut.
  2. Embrace Dietary Diversity: Aim for at least 30 different plant-based foods each week to encourage microbial diversity.
  3. Enjoy Fermented Foods: Include fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, natto, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha, which contain probiotics that can help balance your gut flora.
  4. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water aids digestion and helps maintain the mucosal lining of the intestines.
  5. Limit Processed Foods: Ultra-processed foods that are high in sugar, saturated fat, salt and preservatives can disrupt your gut microbiome. Examples include sausage, frozen ready meals, sugary sodas, instant noodles and candies. Opt for whole, unprocessed ingredients whenever possible.
  6. Practice Mindful Eating: Take the time to chew your food thoroughly, which can aid digestion and absorption of nutrients, benefiting your gut microbiota.

The link between gut health and mental health is supported by numerous studies. For instance, an imbalance in the gut microbiota has been associated with various mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. By nurturing our gut microbiota through diet, we can potentially improve our mental health and resilience to stress.

Now, let’s put these tips into practice with a delicious and nutritious vegan recipe that’s sure to delight your taste buds and your gut bacteria.

Vegan Tofu Stir-Fry

Serves 2


400g extra firm tofu, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 slice ginger, grated

1 medium carrot, shredded

1 cup snap peas

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add tofu and cook until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, sauté garlic and ginger until slightly softened. Add carrot and stir-fry for about 3 minutes until slightly softened.
  3. Add snap peas and bell peppers. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
  4. Return tofu to the pan, toss everything together with soy sauce and heat through.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Ready to serve.

*This dish can be served with cooked brown rice or soba noodles*


Nutritional Analysis (per serving):

Calories: 251 kcal

Protein: 19g

Total fat: 11g

Total Carbohydrates: 22g

Fibre: 5g


This recipe is not only a feast for the eyes with its vibrant colours but also a treat for your gut microbiota, providing a rich source of plant-based proteins and dietary fibre. By incorporating such gut-friendly meals into your diet, you can take a proactive step towards enhancing your gut-brain axis and, consequently, your mental and physical health.


滋養腸道,保持健康心態:慶祝 2024 年世界衛生日

在 2024 年世界衛生日,讓我們深入了解腸道微生物組的世界及其對我們整體健康的深遠影響。 腸道微生物組是存在於我們消化道中的複雜微生物生態系統,是我們健康不可或缺的一部分,影響著從新陳代謝到情緒的一切。 了解腸腦軸並透過營養培養腸道健康可以帶來更快樂、更健康的生活。

腸腦軸是一個雙向通訊網絡,將腸道的腸神經系統與大腦的中樞神經系統連接起來。 這種錯綜複雜的關係意味著我們的腸道健康可以影響我們的精神狀態,因此腸道被稱為「第二個大腦」。 腸道微生物群在此軸中發揮關鍵作用,產生各種會影響大腦功能和情緒的神經傳導物質和訊號分子。

那麼,我們如何透過飲食來支持我們健康的這一重要面向呢? 以下是培養健康腸道微生物組的一些實用技巧:

  1. 增加纖維:加入各種高纖維食物,如水果、蔬菜、全穀類、堅果和種子。 它們充當益生元,為腸道中的有益細菌提供營養。
  2. 膳食多樣化:每週至少吃 30 種不同的植物性食物,以促進微生物多樣性。
  3. 發酵食品:包括乳酪、克菲爾、納豆、味噌、天貝(印尼發酵黃豆餅)、德式酸菜、泡菜和康普茶等發酵食品,它們含有益生菌,有助於平衡腸道菌叢。
  4. 補充水分:喝大量的水有助於消化並有助於維持腸道黏膜內壁。
  5. 限制加工食品:富含糖、飽和脂肪、鹽和防腐劑的超加工食品會破壞腸道微生物組, 例如香腸、冷凍即食食品、汽水、即食麵和糖果。 盡可能選擇完整的、未加工的食材。
  6. 正念飲食:花時間徹底咀嚼食物,可以幫助消化和吸收營養,有益於腸道微生物群。


腸道健康與心理健康之間的關聯得到了許多研究的支持。 例如,腸道微生物群的不平衡與各種心理健康問題有關,包括焦慮和憂鬱。 透過飲食培育腸道微生物群,我們可以改善我們的心理健康和抗壓性。







2 瓣大蒜,切碎

1 片生薑,切碎

1 條甘筍,切絲

1 杯豌豆

1 個紅甜椒,切片

1 個黃甜椒,切片






  1. 易潔鑊用中火加熱油, 加入豆腐塊,煮至金黃色。 從鑊中取出並放在一邊。
  2. 在同一個鑊中,爆香大蒜和薑。加入紅蘿蔔,炒約​​3分鐘至稍微變軟。
  3. 加入豌豆和彩椒,炒約2分鐘。
  4. 將豆腐放回鑊中,加入豉油攪拌,將所有食材炒至熟透。
  5. 依照自己的喜好加鹽和胡椒調味,即成。










此食譜不僅顏色鮮豔吸引,還為您的腸道微生物群提供豐富的植物性蛋白質和膳食纖維來源。 透過將此類有益於腸道的飲食納入您的飲食中,以增強您的腸腦軸,從而促進您的身心健康。

5 Foods To Boost Your Mood Naturally

By Sally Shi-po POON (Registered Dietitian)

What we eat may affect the way we feel. Latest research found that a Mediterranean diet comprising higher intakes of fruit and vegetables, fish and whole grains, was associated with lowered risk of depression in adults. Dietitian Sally Shi-po POON suggests the following foods to help you boost your mood naturally:


  1. Germinated brown rice

Germinated brown rice is rich in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that may help us relax and improve mood.  The amount of GABA in germinated brown rice was found to be 10 times more as compared to milled white rice and two times more than that of brown rice. It is very important to eat regular meals containing carbohydrates to make sure you will have stable amount of glucose in your blood throughout the day. Your brain needs glucose for concentration. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and low fat dairy. Not having enough glucose in the blood makes us feel tired and grumpy.


  1. Chicken

Chicken is rich in tryptophan – an amino acid that makes serotonin to boost your mood. More of this may cross to the brain when carbohydrate foods are eaten. Your body will get plenty of tryptophan if you eat a variety of protein-rich foods including meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds.


  1. Spinach

Spinach is an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin that may help reduce the risk of depression. Asparagus, beef liver, Brussels sprouts, orange, kidney beans, and fortified breakfast cereals are also good sources of folate. Since it is a water-soluble vitamin, it is lost easily during cooking. This can be reduced by steaming or microwaving vegetables instead of boiling.


  1. Sardines

Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help lower the risk of depression. Aim for at least two servings of fish a week, each serving is 3.5 ounce (100g) cooked. Other fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, and albacore tuna are also high in omega-3 fatty acids.


  1. Green tea

Green tea contains L-theanine – an amino acid that may help us stay calm and relaxed. At the same time, it works with the caffeine to improve concentration on mental tasks. It is vital to drink adequate fluids throughout the day as research shows that even a minor degree of dehydration can affect your concentration and mood. Aim for 6 to 8 glasses (1.5 to 2 litres) fluid per day: water, low-fat milk, plant-based milk, soups, tea and coffee all count.


Keep in mind that tea and coffee contain caffeine and drinking too much can cause health problems such as insomnia, headaches, dehydration, restlessness, and anxiety. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others. Up to 400mg of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults, approximately the amount of caffeine in 4 cups of coffee.


Alcohol is a diuretic – drinking too much can lead to dehydration and B vitamin deficiencies, and can make you more depressed or anxious! Try to limit your alcohol intake to no more than 2 to 3 drinks on no more than 5 days per week.


As a rule, having regular meal patterns in a Mediterranean style will provide all the essential nutrients for both good health and good mood. Bon appétit!


Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler: 


5 Dietitian-approved Foods To Fight Inflammation

By Sally Shi-po POON (Registered Dietitian)

Inflammation can be a long-term physiologic response to environmental toxins, infection, poor nutrition, stress, and aging. Chronic inflammation causes damage to body cells and eventually lead to diseases such as cancers, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have found that some nutrients from natural foods are safe and effective to help combat inflammation in the body. Here are 5 anti-inflammatory foods that I suggest:

1. Salmon
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. A study found women who ate more omega-3 had lower levels of inflammatory markers in the blood reflecting lower levels of inflammation, which might explain in part the effects of these fatty acids in preventing cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two servings a week, each serving is 3.5 ounces cooked. Other fatty fish like albacore tuna, herring, lake trout, mackerel, and sardines are also high in omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Beans
Beans are rich in dietary fibre, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds, which help lower the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), one of the key markers of inflammation in the blood. Studies have found that a high fibre diet helps to reduce CRP levels. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also contain plenty of dietary fibre and antioxidants, which can fight inflammation.

3. Walnuts
Walnuts are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fibre, and phytonutrients that can protect against inflammation and promote healthy aging. Although nuts and seeds have anti-inflammatory benefits, they are high in calories so be mindful of portion sizes. Whilst the number of nuts per serving varies by type, a typical serving is 1 ounce (about 1/4 cup) or a small handful. One ounce of English Walnuts equals 14 halves.

4. Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the fresh juice that is squeezed directly from the olive fruit, it is credited as being one of the healthful components of the Mediterranean diet. Extra virgin olive oil is not refined or extracted using chemicals or heat, leaving it high in natural antioxidants, such as oleocanthal, which have significant anti-inflammatory properties. Although olive oil has lots of health benefits and tastes good in salad or pasta, it is energy dense so eating too much can cause weight gain. The healthy eating guideline recommends using 4 to 6 teaspoons of oil in your cooking or salad dressing a day.

5. Turmeric
Turmeric is very popular in grocery stores lately due to its promising anti-inflammatory benefit. Curcumin is the key active compound in turmeric but its absorption is poor. Consuming curcumin with some black pepper and healthy oils can enhance its absorption. It goes well with grains, beans, vegetables and white meats; and can enhance the flavour of soups and stews.

Extra tips on anti-inflammatory eating:
Foods that contribute to inflammation are the same ones generally considered bad for our health, including deep-fried foods, sugar-sweetened drinks, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread and pastries), red meat and processed meats. In general, an anti-inflammatory diet means your plate is dominated by a variety of colourful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts and healthy oils.

Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler: