Did you know? Despite the common belief that the brain is the organ in charge, your gut actually sends far more information to your brain than your brain sends to your gut. The ancient belief that all health begins in the gut has sparked enough interest that caused some mainstream medical researchers to seriously look into intestinal flora’s true health effects beyond digestion.
Gut flora is the term for micro-organisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract. There are 100 trillion of them compared to our 10 trillion cells. If the intestines were opened and spread out to expose their inner linings, they would cover a tennis court.
Your Gut Bacteria Affects Your Brain Function. How to Optimize Your Gut Flora
Research has confirmed a strong connection between the makeup of our gut flora and the functioning of the immune, nervous and endocrine (hormonal) systems. Some research has suggested that bacteria may release signaling molecules that affect the activity of the vagus nerve, which runs from the gut to the base of the brain.
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“Researchers have known that the brain sends signals to your gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. This study shows what has been suspected but until now had been proved only in animal studies: that signals travel the opposite way as well.
‘Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut,’ [Dr. Kirsten]Tillisch said. ‘Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street.'”
In December 2011, the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility found that the probiotic (good bacteria) known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 has been shown to help normalize anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis.
Studies show that people who eat fermented food, absorb iron better even in comparison with those who eat a lot of raw vegetables. The by-products of fermentation help our body break down fat, lower blood pressure, regulate the composition of blood, serve as neuro-transmitters, regulates the functioning of the nervous system and also reduces pressure on the heart. Some of the bacteria that appears as a result of fermentation acts as a natural antibiotic, improving the synthesis of useful vitamins and substances and slowing down the synthesis of pathogenic bacteria. Probiotics help to develop beneficial bacteria that strengthen your immune system while maintaining the overall health of the digestive system and of the whole body.
In 1908 Ilya Mechnikov became a laureate of the Nobel prize in physiology and medicine for his research on the benefits of a diet rich in enzymes. He studied the phenomenon of Bulgarian longevity. Based on statistical data from Bulgaria, many of the inhabitants of this country have reached a hundred years old. The scientist came to the conclusion that the main reason for the health and longevity of Bulgarians are the microbes contained in Bulgarian yogurt.
5 Compelling Reasons to Include Fermented Foods In Your Diet
- They restore a proper balance of bacteria in the intestine and can be useful in facilitating and reducing disease, such as, lactose intolerance, asthma, allergies, fungal infection, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Healthy food, rich in digestive enzymes, increases the number of antibodies which fight infection and help to reinforce the immune system.
- The abundance of digestive enzymes contributes to the processing of food in the body and the proper absorption of nutrients derived from food.
- Such products enriched with vitamins, contributes to the development of additional nutrients like omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- High concentration of antioxidants allows you to withdraw free radicals from the body.
How to Optimize Your Gut Flora
- Avoid processed, refined foods in your diet.
- Eat fermented, unpasteurized foods:
Kimchi – fermented Chinese cabbage; Sour kraut. Can be bought in the store or prepared at home.
Apple cider vinegar. Can be added to homemade sauces, marinades.
Kvas. It is a living fermentation. It contains high levels of enzymes and is enriched with vitamins.
Overall, you can ferment any vegetables you want. The process is not hard at all once you get a good grip on it. Making your own homemade fermented products is easy and a much healthier alternative to store bought foods. By adding fermented products to your daily diet, you will improve digestion, increase immunity and get rid of toxins.