Gut Health has recently come into vogue in the wellness world, with every nutritionist, naturopath and holistic practitioner endorsing the benefits of fermented foods, probiotics and other dietary strategies used to improve gut function and the associated benefits for mental, physical and emotional health.
It seems that recent science has given merit to those age old sayings to “trust your gut”, with the latest research suggesting that the human gut (or our gut microbiome) actually serves as a second brain, influencing our digestion but also our cognitive behaviours as well.
One of the most interesting fields of study in gut health is the connection between the gut micro biome and our emotions. You see, the gut is home to the enteric nervous system, a complex system of nerve cells that help us “feel” what’s happening inside the stomach in regards to the digestion and absorption of our food.
The gut brain is so much more complicated than this however, as it has been designed to aid in digestion and also send signals of stress, discomfort or unease to the brain in record time.
Stress, for example, is intimately tied to our guts. As our bodies respond with either a “fight or flight” response the gut responds accordingly, either diverting blood to the muscles in the legs for flee or to the extremities to fight off whatever predator is attacking us. While this may seem irrelevant our bodies are unable to distinguish between mental and physical stress; and in today’s modern world are bombarded with stimuli that keeps us in a heightened state, unable to digest our food or “feel” the world around us.
The inflammation that comes from this state of stress is known to be the root cause of disease, both chronic, autoimmune and also having links to disorders like depression and autism.
So with all of this doom and gloom around poor gut health and disfunction, what can we do to improve gut health, boost immunity and resilience and optimise physical, mental and emotional health?
Well we have devised a list of the most effective Natural Remedies for Your Gut-Brain Connection:
A whole foods-based diet leads to a gut with a much healthier makeup than one that’s been fed mainly refined and processed foods. This may seem obvious but the simple act of eating fresh, plant-based foods with healthy sources of protein like fatty fish, organic meats, eggs and poultry with healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds, nourishes the gut micro biome in ways unparalleled by medication; and exposure to highly-refined processed foods destroys this healthy environment faster than anything else.
Eating probiotic-rich foods such as fermented yoghurts, kefir, sauerkraut, or drinking kombucha, up the number of good bacteria in the gut that are responsible for nutrient absorption and immune function; meaning that not only will you be getting more out of your food but you will also be better able to protect these nutrients from disease or illness.
By now we should all be familiar with the benefits of introducing healthy fats into our diet, with sources such as olive oil for example including a high amount of antioxidants that protect against cell damage, improve memory and cognitive function, and reduce inflammation in the body. And when inflammation is reduced, so too is the risk of disease…
The shiitake mushroom contains the highest concentration of vitamin B6 of all plant-foods, a nutrient essential to the production of serotonin and neurotransmitters, meaning that they positively affect mood and reduce stress naturally. In fact, vitamin B6 has also been proven to effectively treat mood disorders like depression.
Why? because even just a small handful of nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts or Brazil nuts contain high concentrations of serotonin, the so-called “feel-good” hormone that is used to cure depression and low-moods.
Sesame seeds contain an animo acid called tyrosine that boosts the brain’s dopamine levels, kicking the feel-good hormone into high gear while balancing out the others.
So while we don’t have all the answers for the micro biome just yet, we have enough data to suggest that these natural and simple remedies can drastically improve the health of your gut - your second brain, and the overall health of your mind. So why wouldn’t you give them a try?
If you would like to learn more about gut health, the gut brain connection and how to nourish it, then be sure to investigate Maxime Nicole’s Healthy Gut, Perky Buttbook gifted in our Winter Box as it explores Maxime’s personal journey to wellness from within.