In a lecture titled “Why Isn’t My Brain Working?”, Dr. Chris Caffery, Functional Neurologist, talked about the three most common disorders of the brain: chronic problems, depression, and GI problems. Huh?
There is a brain/gut axis. If this is not working properly, there is not enough stomach acid and digestion suffers. Malabsorption, maldigestion, constipation and diarrhea have a bond with the vagus nerve on the brain/gut axis. The vagus nerve’s role is responsible for 90% of digestion with the ability to digest food controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system, regulated by the brain. If you have inflammation of the gut, you can be sure you have inflammation of the brain.
One of the best ways to restore health gut flora is to eat fermented foods. In doing this you are introducing probiotics into your GI tract, increasing overall nutrition, promoting the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria, aiding digestion and supporting immune function. Fermented foods, as a classification, are highly nutritious and digestible…fermentation pre-digests foods, making nutrients more bioavailable and in many cases adding nutrients or removing antinutrients or toxins from the body.
Fermentation can make an inedible or even dangerous food edible and kind of nutritious! The lectins, gluten and phytates in grains can be greatly reduced by fermentation. Fermentation breaks down the lactose in dairy products. Even soy becomes more tolerable with proper fermentation. Go for real sourdough bread if the opportunity presents itself, but I’m still not a fan of soy in any form!
Some of the best fermented foods are as follows:
Kombucha • fermented black tea for a strong gut
Sauerkraut • brain health, depression and anxiety
Pickles • probiotics
Coconut yogurt • enzymes and probiotics
Miso • potassium (fermented soy)
Tempeh • protein, amino acids (fermented soy)
Kimchi • Korean sauerkraut, beauty food, energy booster, digestion and nutrient assimilation
There is a difference between healthy fermented foods and commercially processed ones…the process itself is inconsistent and commercial food preparation is all about consistency and high yields. Done at home or by a good organic chef, fermentation is more of an art than a science.
Legacy carries Gold Mine sauerkraut and Chef Stephanie Speir (www.food-o-speir.com) can whip up a mean batch of the stuff as well.