Few people are aware that serotonin, also known as “the happy hormone”, is created inside the walls of the gut by over 100 neuron endings lining the inner walls of our digestive systems… We aren’t talking about small amounts, it’s been shown that up to 90% of the chemical is, in fact, originating from what scientist are calling our second brain. This new-found information has seen one type of “superfood” increase dramatically in popularity – fermented foods, and the use of “good bacteria” in a modern world where mental health issues are rifer than ever.
So how are we affecting our second brain?
The modern diet filled with high sugar, toxins and preservatives never seen or consumed by the human body until now has caused a staggering imbalance in gut flora, allowing for an overgrowth in ‘bad bacteria’ and yeasts such as candida. Our bodies have become insufficient in replenishing our serotonin levels, which in turn has increased the prevalence of severe depression and behavioural disorders.
It’s not only what is in our diets, but what is not in our diets. The absence of fermented foods could be one of the main reasons that our gut flora here in the UK is all out of balance and has an impact on our mental wellness. This begs the question why has the modern diet fazed out this tradition-long food preparation?
In China, fermentation is used as a medicinal dietary requirement the same way the Western diet uses supplements and vitamins. The Chinese instead have tempeh, kimchi and pickled vegetables and no surprise, lower rates of mental health disorders that are currently crippling the western world. In fact, every ancient civilisation called upon the practice of fermentation! Whether it was the people of Turkey’s age-old Kefir (fermented milk) or ancient Greece’s Father Of Medicine, Hippocrates, use of apple cider vinegar as a health tonic.
Could fermentation be the key that unlocks a missing aspect and approach to modern health?
So, how do you restore your gut flora balance (to help restore your mind)?
Eliminate bacteria killing foods: processed sugars, refined foods (such as white bread and grains), most packaged foods, as well as artificial additives seen in low-fat or no-fat food options, which have shown to flood the stomach and erode the digestive juices, leaving our intestines unprotected and susceptible to allergies, indigestion, food intolerances and cancers.
Introduce fermented and “living” foods into your diet. Raw forms of yoghurt, unpasteurised and unprocessed. Raw sauerkraut and kimchi can all be purchased from health stores and aid digestion especially if consumed before meals because they still have living enzymes in them. Famed celebrity health Guru and author of The Beauty Detox, Kimberly Snyder, says “enzyme-rich foods are uniquely designed to help us digest them, and this helps us lose weight. How? The enzymes in raw foods alleviate some of the work that our digestive enzymes have to do to break down and digest food.” She even advocates her recipe for Digestive Enzyme Salad as the most effective health recipe available.
Other Mood Building Foods:
-kombucha (fermented tea)
-apple cider vinegar
Give your stomach a break from digestion. Constantly having to digest food is actually extremely taxing on the entire body. It’s no wonder that every other culture has incorporated periods of fasting said to bring mental and physical clarity, as it does just that – frees up space to restore and produce what is needed within the body. Think of your digestive tract as a lawn of fresh grass, if you are constantly walking over it you erode the soil and kill the grass, however, given the opportunity to be watered and left alone the grass will flourish and grow.
There is no greater way to improve one’s mental and physical wellness then beginning from the inside out not only will it improve overall health it’s also a delicious introduction to exotic foods.
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