We all want a healthy brain. After all, our squishy gray matter is our control tower, researchers at MIT discovered that the human brain can process images and interpret them in just a mere 13 milliseconds.
And that’s not all…every day you’re faced with thousands of decisions from whether to have ice cream for dinner to whether or not you should embark on a new relationship.
Your brain normally decides the value and weight of each decision on a risk versus reward scale. So, how can you prevent brain disorders, keep your mind sharp, and maintain the cognitive control you need to make the best decisions for your life?
The answer may surprise you.
As it turns out, the best way to take care of your brain is to take care of your gut – more specifically, your gut bacteria.
How Your Gut and Brain Are Inter-Connected
Your gut is home to an incomprehensible number of microbial life forms. In fact, there are more bacteria living in your gut right now than there are humans living on planet earth. That’s crazy!
The environment in your gut, or microbiome, can either help or hinder the spread of these tiny life forms. These bacteria are important for a number of reasons. They help synthesize different chemicals and compounds that affect just about every system in the body, and they are intimately linked with our brains.
A little-known side effect of an unhealthy gut is a leaky gut. When the gut’s permeability is compromised, chemicals can leak into the bloodstream and cause inflammation throughout the body.
This inflammation can even take place in the brain. Many different neurological and brain disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, have strong correlations with a leaky gut and are the result of excess inflammation in the brain. The best way to prevent a leaky, permeable gut is to do whatever you can to improve the gut flora (or gut bacteria).
Interestingly, a study done in Amsterdam by Dr. Max Nieuwdorp showed that performing a fecal transplant could reverse the effects of type II diabetes.
Dr. Nieuwdorp replaced patients’ unhealthy gut bacteria with balanced, flourishing gut flora and the results were nothing short of incredible. After the transplant, patients’ symptoms were greatly minimized or eliminated completely.
This not only demonstrates the link between the gut and all other parts of the body; it also shows the power that a change in diet can have for your overall health.
Make Your Gut Flora Flourish with Fermented Foods
Your gut flora loves fermented foods and this simple addition to your diet may help prevent brain disorders. These pickled or preserved foods are some of the most gut friendly foods you can add to your diet and may very well help you improve your overall gut health.
Fermentation is a natural process by which bacteria breaks down carbohydrates to produce other substances, like acids, gases, and alcohol.
These byproducts are probiotic, meaning they promote the overall growth and development of bacteria. By eating fermented foods you are feeding not only yourself but also the bacteria that lives in your gut.
Some popular fermented foods that you can add to your diet are:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Mixed pickles
- Pickled jicama
- Pickled garlic
- Pickled Jerusalem artichokes
Can’t get enough pickled vegetables? Try our natural antibiotic pickled salad here.
In addition to fermented foods, always include a combination of raw and cooked whole organic foods.
Foods that are high in sugars or animal products that have been treated with antibiotics can damage the bacteria living in your gut.
Not all the bacteria in your gut is good bacteria. In serious cases, the antibiotics in the food we consume can lead to especially resilient forms of harmful bacteria that can compromise gut health and affect the rest of the body. Similarly, plants treated with pesticides can also harm your microbiome, so it’s best to shop carefully, read labels, and avoid these as well.
You can also take supplements to enrich your microbiome. Prebiotic fibers, like inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), can be purchased in powder form and added to almost anything.
By nourishing your gut flora you’re not just improving your brain health. A healthier gut may help you lose weight, manage blood sugar levels, and actively fight inflammation throughout the body. Who would have thought that the key to a healthier brain was in your stomach?
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