Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Plus 5 tips to Fermenting
Those butterflies in your stomach are one indication how your GUT can affect your mood and behaviour. We need to be paying attention to how we feed our gut ‘biome’ if we want good health. The vital gut-brain connection is the latest, most powerful phenomenon identified since Flemming’s discovery of penicillin and it’s exciting to see how much this new knowledge can help you can take back control of your own health.
We can assume our brain chemicals are only related to the brain. However, roughly 90% of serotonin, your happiness neurotransmitter, is housed and stored in the gut. Who knew the gut was the home of ‘happy’! The gut has a lot to communicate to your brain. In fact, is referred to as your second brain. There are 100 million neurons lining your esophagus all the way through your digestive tract and out your anus. Why is our gut the only organ in our body that needs its own “brain”? Is it only important for digestion? No! It seems this second brain is to communicate with the trillions of micro organisms that are living in our gut. These organisms that make up our gut ‘microbiome’ are living in a symbiotic relationship with us. We need to look after them because they are looking after us.
90% of the signals travel from the gut to the brain and the brain is interpreting the signals as emotions - are you hungry or satisfied? have you just eaten something that is causing inflammation? Is there a threat from a pathogen? or are you just plain stressed? All of these are registered and communicated from your gut. You really need to trust your gut.
70 to 80 percent of our immune system also is managed in our intestinal tract. When the organisms in our digestive system are out of balance, our immune health is affected. Fermented foods offer us the microbes we need to enhance and balance immunity, leading to an improvement in a multitude of immune conditions – such as allergies and autoimmune conditions.
Changes in the gut microbiome from stress, antibiotics, high sugar intake, or high toxic load from food and environment has been shown to negatively impact the brain. Your gut also creates the essential trophic factors for your brain to be able to adapt, change and grow. We need good gut health in order to think calmly and treat the disease in our bodies.
The ratio of good to ‘bad’ bacteria can be thrown out of whack and this is called dysbiosis. Artificial sweeteners and junk food leads to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria; the ones that cause disease and inflammation in the body. Stress and environmental toxins have also been linked with dysbiosis. But let us just have a closer look at the effect of antibiotics.
Did you know that taking one course of antibiotics increases your chances of depression by 25% and that 2-5 courses increases chances by 50%! The antibiotics are indiscriminately killing off the good and bad bacteria, leading to a possible dysbiosis. I look back at our own experience with one of my children. As a toddler, we were advised to have him on a low dose of antibiotics for 12 months until he could outgrow his urinary tract reflux. Knowing what science tells us now and looking at the huge problems he suffered in his digestive tract for many years after this, we would have sought a better solution. He ended up with severely compacted bowels and other concerns that I now believe were related to his dysbiosis.
Certainly antibiotics have their place. And if you must take antibiotics, probiotics should be used next. There is no use having probiotics at the same time as the course of antibiotics. The antibiotics will be killed by the probiotic and the antibiotics will attack the probiotic. They will cancel each other out. But topping up with probiotics afterwards is essential. The probiotic bacteria need to be in high concentrations and from a variety of species. A good probiotic might have 10 strains and huge numbers. Sauerkraut is a food source of probiotics. It has upwards of 700 different probiotics species and can be made with 3 ingredients on your counter.
From minor ailments to chronic disease, they can be traced back to an irritated and inflamed gut. Science has finally caught up to what Hippocrates wrote nearly 2500 years ago, “All disease begins in the gut.” Indeed, the latest research can affirm that the vast majority of modern health problems and diseases find their beginning in the gut.
Researchers are discovering that a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut can help manage obesity and boost our metabolism. Studies show that people who are overweight have a poorer diversity of gut bacteria. Fermented foods, from sauerkraut to miso, can help us improve our bacterial balance in the digestive tract.
Eating carefully prepared fermented foods is the way mankind has been eating for thousands of years. With the aid of refrigeration, we have lost the art fermenting and have stopped passing the important knowledge down to the next generation. But it means we have also lost the health benefits associated with it.
PRObiotics are bacteria with proven health benefits. They feed on fermented foods and unlock the health promoting nutrients in the PREbiotics (the plant fibre) = B vitamins, powerful antioxidants, healthy acids, reduced anti nutrients.
The nutrients in fermented foods are also more bioavailable meaning that the nutrients are more readily absorbed. Since the nutrients are pre-digested by (good) bacteria during the fermentation process, they are more easily taken up by our bodies. Fermentation kicks off the digestive process by releasing nutrients and breaking them down, so by the time we actually eat ferme