Love Your Gut

By Rose Langbein

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Gut Instinct

Your second brain.

People often talk about your gut instinct or trusting your gut, and there is an increasing weight of evidence that proves just how closely linked our brains and guts actually are. In fact the gut is often referred to as a ‘second brain’.

The gut is home to a network of about 100 million nerve cells and neurons, allowing the gut and brain to send chemical messages to one another in both directions, so it’s no surprise that what we eat directly affects our mental wellbeing as well as our physical health.

Recent scientific research has highlighted the importance to our health of useful bacteria, particularly in the gut. Our bodies contain 10 times the number of microbe cells than they do actual human cells—essentially each one of us is just a walking colony of bugs! By keeping your gut flora happy and healthy, you will enhance digestion and maximise nutrient absorption, immunity, brain function and even mood regulation.

This is where fermented foods come in. The live bacteria in fermented foods and beverages are probiotic and help to restore, replenish, support, and diversify our gut flora. Acidophilus yoghurt, sourdough, miso, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi are some of the many foods that contain live bacteria. Incorporating these into your daily diet will help keep your gut happy. As Michael Pollan says so eloquently in his forward to Sandor Elliz Katz’s comprehensive book on fermenting, The Art of Fermentation, “We are discovering that one of the keys to our wellbeing is the wellbeing of the microflora with whom we share [our] bodies, and with whom we co-evolved. And it looks like they really, really like sauerkraut”.

The good news is that making fermented foods and beverages is easy and a lot of fun. Pickling and fermenting also offers a great opportunity to slow things down and actively engage in food processes. Sometimes your home experiments may not quite go to plan, but don’t give up!


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