by Alisa Teglia | August 5th, 2016
The old adage, “you are what you eat,” might have more merit than originally believed. Emerging research shows there is a definite relationship between the stomach’s flora (bacteria) and brain health. A stomach environment where more beneficial versus detrimental bacteria live improves the body’s immune system and can ward off possible disease development. The gut is now being referred to as the body’s “second brain” where a healthy bacterial community—in the tummy—appears to provide the same positive effects on brain activity and cognition.
You may want to incorporate these gut friendly food sources into your diet:
Prebiotics are considered to be “fertilizer” for healthy gut bacteria. They are nondigestible food sources that cause healthy strains of bacteria to grow. Dietary fiber serves as one of the best prebiotics available. Inulin, a type of fiber found in vegetables like leeks and dandelion greens, is a major fuel source for these bacteria to thrive on. If you are at a loss of how to use either of these vegetables, the blog article “What the Heck Do Home Cooks Do with Dandelion Greens?” offers a few great ideas, or check out the recipes page.
The actual healthy bacteria found in the gut are called probiotics. Certain foods such as yogurt sauerkraut or kombucha, contain live bacterial strains and when consumed increase their quantity in the gut. These are all fermented food sources, but most have sugar or salt added during the production process. I suggest sticking to non-sweetened, live cultured yogurts as a superior probiotic dietary source. Yogurt is quite versatile and can be blended into smoothies, mixed into dressings and dips or used as a topping.
Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower and radishes) contain plant chemicals called glucosinolates, which reduce inflammation by removing unhealthy gut bacteria. It is recommended to consume at least three cups of vegetables every day with one or more cups coming from cruciferous sources. I favor consuming radishes raw, so Josie’s Organics Caramelized Romaine Hearts with Shaved Radish is a special side dish I like to serve when cooking on the grill. If you like your vegetables with a little flavor kick, try Josie’s Roasted Cauliflower Gratin with Parmesan Panko with Wasabi Crust. Delicious!
The incorporation of these food sources regularly can contribute to a healthier gut and brain. To take it one step further, make sure the remainder of your diet pairs well with these healthy additions. Now that’s smart thinking!