Who doesn’t love lists? What if I served you delicious, bite-sized morsels of information on topics ranging from natural skin care to healthy eating and even fun ways to stay active? As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), and Certified Raw Foods Chef, experimenting in the kitchen, sharing new recipes and easy wellness tips is what I’m all about!
As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist I’m all about the mind–body–food connection. Everything we eat can make us feel good or make us feel blah and you want to feel good, right? I know I do, which is why I’m excited to talk to you about fermented foods and their effect on your mood.
There’s a second command center (in addition to your brain) in your body and it’s right at the center of you, in your gut. There’s constant communication happening between your gut and brain known as the gut-brain axis. Gut flora (healthy bacteria in your gut) play a role in influencing this communication meaning they play an important role in not only your digestive health but also in healthy brain function.
There’s growing (pun intended) research showing that supporting the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut by consuming prebiotics and probiotics may play a role in feeling good. Talk about a gut feeling—healthy bacteria, supported by prebiotics, may help lower levels of your stress hormone, cortisol, and might even change the way you process emotional information and handle anxiety1.
So where do you start? Where will you find pre and probiotics? What about those healthy bacteria? Let’s dive deeper into what they are and ways to incorporate them into your day:
Fermented foods are your go-to for probiotics, strains of good bacteria. That’s right. Good, as in healthy, bacteria. Yes, there is such a thing. I know bacteria get a bad rap when you think of mold, antibacterial washes and antibiotics, but there is a place for bacteria and it’s in your gut. In fact, there are trillions of microbes in your body that pay a role in your health and as we’re leaning, your mood. As with many things in life, you want the good to outweigh the bad when it comes to the microbes in your body. You can find good bacteria in fermented foods. Nourish the healthy bacteria in your intestine (your gut flora) by incorporating more fermented foods into your diet. This can help you top up all that oh-so-good-for-you-and-your-mood-bacteria.
- Kombucha, a fermented sweet tea, can be found at most health food stores and in the grocery aisle. If you’re feeling good about kombucha and want to take your relationship to the next level why not make your own? Find out how to make your own kombucha here.
- Yogurt is a great way to add more probiotics to your day and this dip is hands out my favorite way to do it. If you’re not ready to go there with kombucha but want to DIY a fermented food try out this DIY almond yogurt recipe.
- Sauerkraut and kimchi, can be used in many ways. Try topping your favorite salad with homemade sauerkraut or show up at your next potluck with homemade vegan kimchi as a starter dish.
Like a panda needs bamboo, and Jay-Z needs Beyoncé, probiotics need food to thrive. They use specific types of fermentable prebiotic fiber as food. This fiber is naturally present in many foods and helps to nourish healthy probiotics in your gut. Incorporating more foods that contain the prebiotic fiber such as apples (skin on), chicory root, onions and asparagus, into your diet may help to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut and possibly increase instances of having a great time. Just like eating to crowd out cravings by adding in more nutrient dense foods, we can crowd out the bad bacteria with the good by eating more pre and probiotic-rich foods.
- Turn any salad into a prebiotic dish by adding asparagus like you’d find in this sustainability salad recipe.
- Not in the mood for salad? Try this green soup with asparagus.
If you’re in the mood for something quick, easy and delicious that you can feel good about. Try Vega One with prebiotic inulin from chicory root and organic acacia gum, as well as 1 billion CFU probiotics.
Do fermented foods put you in a good mood? Do you have a favorite way to add more pre and probiotic rich foods into your day? Let me know in the comments below.
1. Schmidt K, et al. (2014). Prebiotic intake reduces the waking cortisol response and alters emotional bias in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology. Retrieved March 30, 2015, from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-014-3810-0/fulltext.html