The gut. We’ve all heard the expressions “I had a gut feeling” or “trust your gut instinct”, and we’re now beginning to understand the latest science behind these. It appears to be mostly down to neurotransmitters (neurowhat? Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages to and from the brain) and the… wait for it… microbiome. Your gut produces around ¾ of all the neurotransmitters in the body. A healthy gut ensures the body has an effective communication system with the brain. The microbiome, a word which is getting increasing attention (and rightly so), comprises of billions and trillions of microorganisms which play an important role in our health* including our immune system. Almost 2/3 of our immune system cells live in our gut. Maintaining a healthy microbiome supports our immune system which can help keep our brain healthy.
The emerging science is suggesting that in order to keep our brains healthy, we need to keep our gut healthy. One way to keep our gut healthy is to feed the microbiome. Pre and probiotic food is the best way to do this.
Probiotics are essentially healthy bacteria that help keep balance in your microbiome. This balance can be impacted by illness, daily stresses and not eating a healthy, varied diet.
Fermented foods help supply probiotic food in our diet. Bacteria translate the sugar from our food into lactic acid. The combination of lactic acid and increasing numbers of these helpful bacteria creates a place where the good guys want to live and the bad guys are less likely to be found.
Foods that are probiotic sources include:
Live cultured yoghurt
Picked fruit and vegetables
Probiotic providing foods need prebiotic starter fuel. These are basically foods that can get all the way from our mouths to where the good bacteria are so they can get to work. Examples of these are
Onions, leeks, types of fibre including inulin
These concepts of fermented foods and their benefits have been known in certain parts of the world for centuries. What we’re learning in this century is just how important this is for many diseases common in the 21st century, and especially the importance of this for looking after our brains.