The gut-health, and even gut–mental health, connection is no longer the stuff of fringe theories or ideas followed by a select few. Numerous studies, research, and experts continue to find evidence supporting the strong relationship between gut health and cognitive processes. And within that realm, a few experts have been specifically examining the relationship between gut health and creativity.
According to Artsy, some artists are extremely specific about their eating habits, even if they don’t follow an exact diet. Although this could be chalked up to personal preference, the professionals whom Artsy interviewed cited the impact their diet has on their ability to create. And some experts have been examining the scope of this phenomenon.
Ten years ago, Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, PhD, a professor of Neurosurgery, Integrative Biology, and Physiology at UCLA, published a study in the journal Nature that analyzed more than 160 studies regarding the relationship between the brain and food. Dr. Gómez-Pinilla told UCLA, “Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain.… This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities.” So, just as changing your diet might affect your skin or (potentially) your mental health, the same might be true for hacking into your creativity.
A report published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found eating more fruits and vegetables correlates to better well-being and an increased sense of curiosity and creativity.
Another, narrower report, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, studied about 400 young adults over 13 days and found that eating more fruits and vegetables correlates to better well-being and an increased sense of curiosity and creativity.
Dr. Gómez-Pinilla said two specific findings could explain how certain foods bolster creativity. First, if you consume more fruits and vegetables, you likely eat less sugar (which studies have tied to mental decline). Plus, if you ingest healthy, natural foods, fruits, and vegetables, you likely get a boost of flavonoids, which (aside from fighting inflammation) Dr. Gómez-Pinilla said seems to increase blood flow and help the parts of your brain related to memory and sharp thinking.
Another study in Psychological Research found that tyrosine—found in seaweed, bananas, and almonds, among other foods—has been shown to have impressive effects on deep thinking and creative operations.
So the next time you’re feeling uninspired, try whipping up a smoothie bowl that doubles as a work of art to inspire your own inner Van Gogh.