Fermented Foods: The Brain/Gut Connection

With my recent obsession with all things fermented, I’ve been increasing my intake of naturally fermented foods in my diet and have been feeling the benefits. As a recovering sugar addict, its refreshing to have the balanced tanginess that fermented foods provide to my diet. In addition, its amazing what a few bites of sauerkraut can do at the start of the meal to get my digestion kick started, but also ensure that I’m craving less in the way of sweets as I continue into my meal.

And then…there’s my second obsession, Radiolab. I’m an avid listener and have mentioned shows I’ve listened to before. Imagine my delight at their most recent show, Guts (click here to listen), which unpacked the mysterious inner-workings of our digestive system. This isn’t necessarily a show to listen to right before or after a meal, but was vastly intriguing in its exploration of our most important human function outside of breathing and pumping blood…digesting food. The highlight for me was the second “act” Gut Feelings, that discussed the gut/brain connection and how the healthy fauna in our intestinal tracts can actually help us to experience less stress and anxiety. The study itself focused on the addition of probiotics in medicinal form, but fermented foods across the spectrum offer the same healthy doses of lactobacillus and other good bacteria (and they cost significantly less and are much tastier too). I highly encourage a listen, as the studies are fascinating and point to yet another reason why fermented foods are such a positive addition to our diets (as if the 8 reasons mentioned in CheeseSlave’s blog weren’t enough).

While I must admit that yoga and meditation play no small part in my low levels of stress, I can’t help but wonder what part the healthy bacteria in my intestines are playing…now if only I could get them to meditate!

'Be kind to your stomach'
Seymour Nydorf, 1914-2001 / National Archives and Records Administration