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The Surprising Food that Aids Allergy Sufferers

When I ask “what surprising food aids allergy sufferers?” you may think of green tea or some other food that is well-known for its immune-balancing effects, but you probably don’t think of sauerkraut when the runny nose and itchy eyes of allergy season strike. But a growing body of shows that maybe you should enjoy naturally-fermented sauerkraut on a regular basis, particularly before and during allergy season.

Research in the journal Current Sports Medicine Reports found that probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut can reduce allergic conditions and balance immune function. In this study at the Division of Sports Medicine at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, researchers found that fermented foods like sauerkraut reduced allergy symptoms while also enhancing athletic performance. That’s a nice bonus: I’m not aware of any allergy medications that also boost athletic ability.

Other research in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that fermented cabbage regulated the immune systems of animals and even reduced or prevented allergic reactions altogether. In this study at the National Teipei University of Education researchers concluded that fermented cabbage offers promise for the treatment of allergic diseases.

The researchers still aren’t clear on the mechanism involved in preventing or reducing allergic reactions but it is likely a couple of things at work:

1) Many probiotics have a natural gut-healing and anti-inflammatory effect, and we now know that many diseases begin with gut inflammation and damage to the delicate mucosal lining in the gut.

2) As probiotics are being discovered and categorized, we are learning that many offer specific health benefits. So it is possible that there are specific probiotics that simply help to reduce allergy symptoms or allergies altogether. The research is still in the early stages, so perhaps over time and as more studies are carried out we’ll better understand how the probiotics in sauerkraut can help us deal with allergy season.

But not just any sauerkraut will do. Most commercial varieties are actually made with white vinegar instead of the natural fermentation process needed to encourage probiotic development. And, it’s the probiotics that offer the therapeutic allergy-reducing benefits.

Additionally, most store-bought sauerkraut has been pasteurized, a process of using excessive heat to bottle sauerkraut to increase shelf-life, but one that also kills all of the probiotics linked to allergy-reduction. The best way to ensure that the sauerkraut you eat is full of beneficial microbes is to make it yourself, which is much easier than most people think. Check out my blog Make Your Own Probiotic-Rich Sauerkraut to learn how. Alternatively, purchase sauerkraut in the refrigerator section of your health food or grocery store, making sure that the label indicates “unpasteurized” or “live cultures.”

While little research has been done on other fermented foods to see if they offer anti-allergy effects, preliminary studies also indicate that kefir (a beverage that is similar to yogurt, only a thinner consistency), miso and yogurt also offer immune-regulating, anti-histamine and respiratory-boosting effects. Ideally, eat at least one fermented food, but preferably more, each day. Be sure to choose only unsweetened options that contain live cultures.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook                 March 4, 2017
About Michelle          Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Probiotic Promise: Simple Steps to Heal Your Body from the Inside Out.

source: www.care2.com
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Are Prebiotics the Stress Reliever You Never Heard Of?

Before you spend another night tossing and turning from stress, a new study shows that the secret to peaceful Z’s starts with what you’re eating.

There are traditional methods for coping with stress, from relaxing in the tub to keeping a bullet journal, but according to the newest study, an effective way to bounce back from stress is to get your fill of foods rich in prebiotics.

While probiotics—those friendly gut bugs—are often lauded for their digestive benefits, prebiotics are less understood. WebMD defines prebiotics as “good carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body. They are food for probiotics, and their primary benefit along with probiotics is to help your body maintain a healthy digestive system.”

Researchers from the University of Colorado discovered that regular amounts of prebiotics in your diet can help promote a better balance of gut bacteria and help the body recover following a stressful event. Their study, which appeared in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, found that including prebiotics—from sources like asparagus, oatmeal, and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas—help our bodies resume normal sleeping patterns following a particularly stressful event.

“Acute stress can disrupt the gut microbiome,” Agnieszka Mika, MD, a lead author of the study told sciencedaily.com. “We wanted to test if a diet rich in prebiotics would increase beneficial bacteria as well as protect gut microbes from stress-induced disruptions. We also wanted to look at the effects of prebiotics on the recovery of normal sleep patterns, since they tend to be disrupted after stressful events.”

For the study, test rats were given a diet of prebiotics for several weeks prior to a stressful test condition. They were then compared against control rats that didn’t eat a prebiotic-rich diet. Researchers found that the rats that ate prebiotic foods prior to the stressful event didn’t demonstrate any stress-induced disruption in their gut and were able to resume healthier sleep patterns more quickly than the rats on the non-prebiotic diet.

Although the study was conducted on rats, the researchers say the results are applicable for humans. According to the study’s lead author, Robert Thompson, MD, “the stressor the rats received was the equivalent of a single intense acute stressful event for humans, such as a car accident or the death of a loved one.”

No adverse effects have been reported from the use of prebiotics, and with the non-digestible fiber found widely in many plants, breast milk and as commercial supplements, Dr. Mika encourages us to get our fill. These are the best foods you can eat to boost your good gut bacteria, because both probiotics and prebiotics are critical to a healthy microbiome, or gut bug community.

BY LAUREN REARICK
source: www.rd.com
Garlic

7 Foods to Boost Your Good Gut Bacteria (That Aren’t Yogurt)

One of the most astonishing recent health discoveries is how much our gut microbiome impacts our health. But when it comes to growing good gut bacteria you have plenty of delicious probiotic foods to choose from.

Cold potatoes

Cold potatoes—that is, taters that have been washed, cooked, and cooled—are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a prebiotic, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that acts like food for gut bacteria, encouraging the good bugs to grow and flourish. While resistant starch has many health benefits, one of its most promising aspects is its ability to increase insulin sensitivity, helping people reduce diabetes risk and even lose weight.

Kefir

Think of kefir as yogurt’s tangier but more powerful cousin. The drink is made by seeding milk with kefir “grains,” which are tiny bundles of yeast and bacteria, and letting it sit. Over time the grains ferment the milk, producing a tart drink full of probiotics, or healthy bacteria. A 2013 study found that kefir can help relieve gastrointestinal problems and allergies and may even have a positive effect on heart health. One caveat however: Many commercial kefir drinks contain very high amounts of added sugar, which feeds bad bacteria in your gut, so make sure you read the label and ingredient list. These are sneaky signs you might be eating too much sugar.

Green bananas

Most people go out of their way to avoid green bananas but there’s good news for people who just can’t wait until they’re fully ripe. Green bananas are a rich source of prebiotics, particularly resistant starch. They also have a healthy dose of both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The combo provides a feast for good gut bacteria and helps protect your heart and bones. Can’t get past the taste? Try them boiled or fried or sub some green banana flour in place of regular flour. Here’s how sniffing bananas could help you lose weight.

Kimchi

Don’t let the name throw you—this Korean dish is not only tasty but a health superstar. Kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, which gives it the same boost of healthy bacteria as other fermented foods, like yogurt. Plus, since it’s made from cruciferous veggies like bok choy and cabbage along with healthy spices like garlic and peppers, it provides a mega dose of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. One study found that kimchi helps protect against cancer, obesity, and constipation while lowering cholesterol, boosting brain and immune function, and even providing some anti-aging benefits. Here are other proven cancer-fighting foods.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is kimchi’s German cousin, a lacto-fermented brine filled with cabbage, carrots, and spices—not to mention plenty of healthy bacteria for your gut. And not only does it have similar benefits as other fermented veggies but a study done by William & Mary college found that eating a daily serving of sauerkraut helped significantly reduce social anxiety. The researchers believe it’s because more than 80 percent of the calming hormone, serotonin, is manufactured in our guts (not our brains!) and the good bacteria boosted serotonin production.

Chocolate

Yes, it’s true! Chocolate can help encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria. A study published in the International Journal of Food Biology found that combining chocolate with probiotics magnified the benefits of both. The chocolate protected the bacteria as it passed through the stomach, making sure it was absorbed in the small intestine while the bacteria helped the body properly digest the chocolate, enabling it to extract all the micronutrients and antioxidants. Talk about a win/win! Here are more healthy reasons to eat chocolate.

Garlic

Everyone’s favorite way to get bad breath also has powerful gut bacteria-boosting properties. Garlic is not only Americans’ number-one favorite spice (after salt) but is also beloved by bacteria thanks to its rich supply of prebiotics, their preferred food. Raw garlic is the best source but for those who don’t like the burn (or who feel like kissing someone later); cooked garlic also works well—so well in fact that a study published in Food Science and Human Wellness found that eating it is an effective way to prevent many gastrointestinal illnesses. Here are more surprising benefits of garlic. Feeling motivated? Try these seven other foods that also boost gut health.

BY CHARLOTTE HILTON ANDERSEN
source: www.rd.com


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How Probiotics Can Be Good for Your Brain

Did you know that there are roughly 40 trillion bacteria living in and on you?

Most of these bacteria reside in your gut and don’t cause any health problems.

In fact, scientists have begun to realize that these bacteria are essential for your physical health.

Now compelling new research has found these bacteria may also be beneficial for your brain and mental health.

This article explains how your brain is affected by gut bacteria and the role probiotics may play.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria. When consumed in sufficient quantities, they provide a specific health benefit.

The word “probiotic” is derived from the Latin words “pro,” meaning to promote, and “biotic,” meaning life.

Importantly, in order for a certain species of bacteria to be termed “probiotic,” it must have a lot of scientific evidence behind it showing a specific health benefit.

Unfortunately, the word probiotic has become overused by food and pharmaceutical companies who were calling some bacteria probiotics even if they had no scientifically proven health benefit.

This led the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to ban the word “probiotic” on all foods in the European Union.

However, there is a lot of new scientific evidence showing that some bacterial species have true benefits for health.

They may benefit those with conditions including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), eczema, dermatitis, unhealthy cholesterol levels and liver disease.

Most probiotics belong to one of two types of bacteria: Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria. There are many different species and strains within these groups, and they may have different effects on the body.

Bottom Line: Probiotics are live microorganisms that have a proven health benefit for the body.

How Are Your Intestines and Brain Connected?

The intestines and brain are connected physically and biochemically.

The physical connection between the intestines and brain is through the central nervous system, which controls all of the activities of the body.

The vagus nerve is a large nerve that sends signals between the intestines and brain.

The brain is also connected to the intestines through your gut microbes. Molecules that they produce can act as signals that the brain can detect.

In the past, scientists have estimated that a person has approximately 100 trillion bacterial cells in their body and only 10 trillion human cells, meaning your own cells are outnumbered by 10 to 1.

However, recent estimates suggest that you have roughly 30 trillion human cells and 40 trillion bacteria. This is still pretty impressive and means that, by number of cells, you are more bacteria than human.

The majority of these bacteria are in your gut, so they’re in direct contact with the cells that line your intestines and with everything that enters your body. That includes food, medicines and microbes.

Alongside your gut bacteria, there are many other microbes, such as yeasts and fungi. Collectively, these microbes are known as the gut microbiota or gut microbiome.

Each of these bacteria can produce different compounds, such as short-chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters and amino acids. Many of these substances have effects on the brain.

In addition to producing brain-altering substances, gut bacteria can also influence the brain and central nervous system by controlling inflammation and hormone production.

Bottom Line: There are thousands of different species of bacteria in the human body, mostly in the intestines. In general, these bacteria are good for your health and may even influence brain health.

An Altered Microbiota May Contribute to a Number of Diseases

The term “gut dysbiosis” refers to when the intestines and gut bacteria are in a diseased state. This may be due to the presence of disease-causing bacteria, which may also lead to chronic inflammation.

An altered microbiota has been observed in people with obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other diseases.

Some studies have shown that certain probiotics can restore the microbiota to a healthy state and reduce symptoms of these diseases.

Interestingly, some studies have shown that people with certain mental disorders also have an altered microbiota. However, it is unclear if this is a cause of such diseases or the result of an altered diet and lifestyle.

Since the gut and brain are connected, and gut bacteria produce substances that can influence the brain, probiotics may be able to benefit the brain and mental health.

A number of recent studies have investigated this, but most have been in animals. However, a few have shown interesting results in humans.

Bottom Line: A number of diseases, including mental disorders, are associated with higher disease-causing bacteria in the intestines. Some probiotics may be able to restore healthy bacteria to reduce symptoms.

Taking Probiotic Supplements May Reduce Symptoms of Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Stress and anxiety are increasingly common and depression is one of the leading causes of disease worldwide.

A number of these disorders, especially stress and anxiety, are associated with high blood levels of cortisol, the human stress hormone.

Only one study has examined how probiotics affect patients with clinically diagnosed depression.

In the study, consuming a mixture of three Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains for eight weeks significantly reduced depressive symptoms. The probiotic also reduced inflammation in the patients.

A handful of other studies have examined how probiotics affect depressive symptoms in healthy subjects. In healthy people, certain probiotics may reduce:

  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Psychological distress
  • Academic stress

Bottom Line: Certain probiotics may reduce anxiety, stress and depressive symptoms in healthy people. More research is needed about potential benefits for people with clinically diagnosed psychological disorders.

 

probiotic foods

 

Taking Probiotic Supplements May Reduce Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is directly related to the function of the colon, but the disease is sometimes considered a psychological disorder.

Anxiety and depression are common in IBS sufferers. Interestingly, people who have IBS also tend to have an altered microbiota.

Many studies have shown that certain probiotics can reduce symptoms of IBS, including pain and bloating.

Bottom Line: IBS is commonly associated with elevated levels of anxiety and depression. Probiotics appear to help reduce IBS symptoms.

Certain Probiotics May Enhance Mood

In healthy people without a psychological disorder, some probiotics may help improve mood.

One study treated participants daily for four weeks with a probiotic mix containing eight different Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains.

The researchers found that taking the supplements reduced participants’ negative thoughts associated with a sad mood.

Another study showed that consuming a milk drink containing a probiotic called Lactobacillus casei for three weeks improved mood in people who had the lowest mood before the treatment.

Interestingly, this study also found that people scored slightly lower on a memory test after taking the probiotic. Further research is needed to validate these results.

Bottom Line: A few studies have shown that taking certain probiotics for a few weeks may slightly improve mood.

Certain Probiotics May Have Benefits After Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury usually involves admission to an intensive care unit. During this time, food is usually administered enterally, meaning through a tube.

In some cases, breathing also has to be assisted with a tube, which can increase the risk of infection. Infections in people with traumatic brain injuries can lead to further complications.

A few studies have found that adding certain probiotics into enteral nutrition can reduce the number of infections in the patients with traumatic brain injury and the length of time they spend in the intensive care unit.

The effects of the probiotics on these outcomes may be due to their benefits for the immune system.

Bottom Line: Administering probiotics after traumatic brain injury may reduce patients’ rate of infections and length of stay in intensive care.

Other Beneficial Effects of Probiotics on the Brain

A handful of other studies have shown that probiotics may have interesting benefits for the brain.

One intriguing study looked at images of women’s brains after they consumed a mix of Bifidobacteria, Streptococcus, Lactobacillus and Lactococcus strains.

Consuming the probiotic affected regions of the brain that control emotion and sensation.

Other studies have shown that providing specific probiotics may reduce certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia, but much more research is needed.

Bottom Line: Some probiotics may influence the function of the brain and symptoms of multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia. However, this research is still very new, so the results aren’t clear.

Should You Be Taking a Probiotic for Your Brain?

At the moment, there is not enough evidence to definitively say that probiotics benefit the brain. Therefore, they cannot yet be considered a treatment for any brain-related disorders.

If you’re looking to treat such disorders, consult a doctor.

That said, there is good evidence that probiotics can benefit other aspects of health, including heart health, digestive disorders, eczema and dermatitis.

Thus far, scientific evidence does show a clear connection between the gut and the brain. It’s an exciting area of research that is expanding rapidly.

A healthy gut microbiota can usually be obtained by a healthy diet and lifestyle. A number of foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi usually contain beneficial bacteria.

If necessary, taking probiotic supplements can help you increase the beneficial bacterial species in your intestines. In general, consuming probiotics is safe and causes few side effects.

If you’re buying a probiotic, choose one that has scientific evidence behind it. Lactobacillus GG (LGG) and VSL#3 have both been widely studied and shown a number of health benefits.

Bottom Line: Probiotics have been shown to benefit other aspects of health, but not enough research has been done to definitively demonstrate whether probiotics have positive effects on the brain.

Take Home Message

Although the research is promising, it is too soon to recommend any probiotic specifically to boost brain health.

Still, current evidence gives some food for thought about how probiotics may be used to enhance brain health in the future.

By Dr. Ruairi Robertson


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Does Your Gut Bacteria Affect Weight Loss? Simplifying The Science

Researchers have learnt so much about our gut bacteria in the last decade.

The potential effects they have on health is quite extraordinary.

Some suspect they may have a strong influence on metabolic diseases, including obesity.

This article looks at how gut bacteria may affect weight, as well as what you can do about it.

The potential effects they have on health is quite extraordinary.

Some suspect they may have a strong influence on metabolic diseases, including obesity.

This article looks at how gut bacteria may affect weight, as well as what you can do about it.

What Are Gut Bacteria?

What are gut bacteria?Gut bacteria refers to the community of micro-organisms that permanently reside inside our intestinal tract (1).

These bacteria are also commonly referred to as gut microflora, gut microbiota, or the gut microbiome.

Studies over the past decade have begun to reveal just how influential these bacteria are on our immune function, metabolism, nutrient absorption, and risk of numerous metabolic diseases.

In fact, the gut microbiome is often considered a hidden or extra “organ” due to the way they can positively or negatively influence our health (34).

Summary: Your gut bacteria is a community of micro-organisms that live in your intestines. They can positively or negatively influence many aspects of health.

Can Gut Bacteria Affect Weight Loss?

If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.

While this is fundamentally true of a positive energy balance, gut bacteria transplant studies indicate it’s not nearly as simple as “calories in calories out”.

The class or type of bacteria in your gut also appears to influence energy balance to some degree.

Studies on rodents found that transplanting the gut bacteria of obese mice into lean mice (fecal transplants) caused the lean mice to gain fat cells rapidly (5).

Since then researchers have found striking differences between the gut bacteria of lean and obese individuals (678).

Faecal sample analyses indicate that relative proportions of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes – both “classes” of bacteria in the gut – can influence energy balance to some degree (5910).

Specifically, human studies found that the ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes was decreased in obese individuals, as was overall diversity of gut bacteria (1112).

In other words, more Firmicutes and fewer Bacteroidetes is not ideal.

Researchers hypothesize that this “obese microbiota” may enhance signals that trigger the amount of energy we harvest from food. This in turn increases the amount of calories absorbed, and therefore weight gain (312).

Summary: Early research suggests the types and proportions of bacteria in our gut may influence likelihood of weight loss or weight gain. This may be due to its influence on mechanisms that affect energy storage and energy balance.

probiotics-prebiotics

Probiotics and Weight Loss

Probiotics are bacteria that we eat specifically for health benefits.

They enter the digestive tract to alter and improve the current makeup of our gut bacterial community.

Researchers are now looking to see if regular probiotic supplementation can influence weight. So far only a handful of human clinical trials have been published, but findings do support the idea that gut bacteria affects weight loss.

From the weight of evidence currently available, Lactobacillus gasseri appears to be the probiotic strain that can best assist weight loss in humans.

Note that some strains of bacteria appear to “protect” from gaining more fat, while others are linked to weight gain (131415).

Summary: Some clinical studies have found that certain probiotic strains can influence weight gain. This supports the idea that our gut bacteria environment influences weight management.

Diet Recommendations to Improve Gut Health

It’s unclear what specific strains of bacteria we need more or less exposure to for improved gut health.

The same goes for promoting weight loss.

Unfortunately, this means specific dietary recommendations are limited.

What we do know is that consuming more probiotic-rich food, as well as nourishing our existing gut bacteria, are fundamental for overall health.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods naturally contain lots of beneficial bacteria and should become a regular addition to your diet.

Think of them as a kind of natural probiotic supplement that “top up” the bacteria in your gut.

Fermented foods are actually very common in our diet, but healthier options include quark, plain yogurt or kefir, sauerkraut, and other non-pasteurized pickled vegetables.

Prebiotics

In order to nourish existing bacteria, you must regularly eat prebiotic foods (not to be confused with probiotics).

Prebiotics are a form of carbohydrate (mostly fiber) that humans can’t digest. It acts as “food” for the beneficial bacteria in your gut to grow and thrive.

Foods rich in prebiotic fiber include:

  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Beans and legumes.
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus

As though we needed additional reasons to eat more legumes and berries!

Limit Junk Foods

Not only are junk foods high in calories, but high sugar foods appear to promote the growth of potentially harmful bacterial species (1617).

Feeding the wrong bacteria enables them to colonize and grow more rapidly, without as many beneficial bacteria to prevent them from thriving (181920).

The growth of this harmful bacteria may indirectly influence many aspects of health, including weight gain. Individuals who eat a high calorie diet appear to have a poorer ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes, which is associated with absorbing more calories (21).

Summary: To maintain a diverse gut bacteria that promotes health, ensure your diet includes lots of prebiotic foods and fermented foods, and limit junk foods.

Conclusion

Current evidence suggests the balance and diversity of our gut bacteria can influence how easily an individual gains or loses weight.

Until we learn more, the best way to nurture a healthy gut bacteria is by eating a diverse diet rich in prebiotic foods and fermented foods. If this is not possible, probiotic supplementation may be a good option.

It’s also a good idea to limit junk foods, but you knew that already.

 


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7 Foods to Boost Your Good Gut Bacteria (That Aren’t Yogurt)

One of the most astonishing recent health discoveries is how much our gut microbiome impacts our health. But when it comes to growing good gut bacteria you have plenty of delicious probiotic foods to choose from.

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen

Cold potatoes
Cold potatoes—that is, taters that have been washed, cooked, and cooled—are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a prebiotic, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that acts like food for gut bacteria, encouraging the good bugs to grow and flourish. While resistant starch has many health benefits, one of its most promising aspects is its ability to increase insulin sensitivity, helping people reduce diabetes risk and even lose weight.

Kefir
Think of kefir as yogurt’s tangier but more powerful cousin. The drink is made by seeding milk with kefir “grains,” which are tiny bundles of yeast and bacteria, and letting it sit. Over time the grains ferment the milk, producing a tart drink full of probiotics, or healthy bacteria. A 2013 study found that Kefir can help relieve gastrointestinal problems, allergies, and may even have a positive effect on heart health. One caveat however: Many commercial kefir drinks contain very high amounts of added sugar, which feeds bad bacteria in your gut, so make sure you’re reading the label and ingredient list before buying. These are sneaky signs you might be eating too much sugar.

Green bananas
Most people go out of their way to avoid green bananas but there’s good news for people who just can’t wait until they’re fully ripe. Green bananas are a rich source of prebiotics, particularly resistant starch. They also have a healthy dose of both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The combo provides a feast for good gut bacteria and helps protect your heart and bones. Can’t get past the taste? Try them boiled or fried or sub some green banana flour in place of regular flour. Here’s how sniffing bananas could help you lose weight.

Kimchi
Don’t let the name throw you—this Korean dish is not only tasty but a health superstar. Kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, which gives it the same boost of healthy bacteria as other fermented foods, like yogurt. Plus, since it’s made from cruciferous veggies like bok choy and cabbage along with healthy spices like garlic and peppers, it’s provides a mega dose of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. One study found that kimchi helps protect against cancer, obesity, and constipation while lowering cholesterol, boosting brain and immune function and even providing some anti-aging benefits. Here are other proven cancer-fighting foods.

Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is kimchi’s German cousin, a lacto-fermented brine filled with cabbage, carrots, and spices—not to mention plenty of healthy bacteria for your gut. And not only does it have similar benefits as other fermented veggies but a study done by William & Mary college found that eating a daily serving of sauerkraut helped significantly reduce social anxiety. The researchers believe it’s because more than 80 percent of the calming hormone, serotonin, is manufactured in our guts (not our brains!) and the good bacteria boosted serotonin production.

Chocolate
Yes, it’s true! Chocolate can help encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria. A study published in the International Journal of Food Biology found that combining chocolate with probiotics magnified the benefits of both. The chocolate protected the bacteria as it passed through the stomach, making sure it was absorbed in the small intestine while the bacteria helped the body properly digest the chocolate, enabling it to extract all the micronutrients and antioxidants. Talk about a win/win! Here are more healthy reasons to eat chocolate.

Garlic

Garlic
Everyone’s favorite way to get bad breath also has powerful gut-bacteria boosting properties. Garlic is not only Americans’ number-one favorite spice (after salt) but is also beloved by bacteria thanks to its rich supply of prebiotics, their preferred food. Raw garlic is the best source but for those who don’t like the burn (or who feel like kissing someone later), cooked garlic also works well—so well in fact that a study published in Food Science and Human Wellness found that eating it is an effective way to prevent many gastrointestinal illnesses.

source: www.rd.com


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The Everyday Foods Which Reduce Social Anxiety

People who are particularly neurotic may benefit from this group of common foods — plus exercise.

People who eat more fermented foods have lower social anxiety, a new study finds.

The benefit is particularly noticeable amongst people who are highly neurotic.

Neurotic people are prone to anxiety.

Fermented foods that are a regular part of the Western diet include milk, cheese, yogurt and bread.

They typically contain probiotics, which are likely behind the benefit.

Professor Matthew Hilimire, one of the study’s authors, said:

“It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety.
I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.”

The study asked around 700 young adults to keep track of what they ate over a month.

The researchers controlled for how much exercise people did and how healthily they ate.

Dr DeVylder explained the results:

“The main finding was that individuals who had consumed more fermented foods had reduced social anxiety but that was qualified by an interaction by neuroticism.
What that means is that that relationship was strongest amongst people that were high in neuroticism.”

The study also found that the more exercise people did, the lower their social anxiety.

The researchers are planning an experiment to back up the results of this survey.

Dr DeVylder said:

“However, if we rely on the animal models that have come before us and the human experimental work that has come before us in other anxiety and depression studies, it does seem that there is a causative mechanism.
Assuming similar findings in the experimental follow-up, what it would suggest is that you could augment more traditional therapies (like medications, psychotherapy or a combination of the two) with fermented foods — dietary changes — and exercise, as well.”

Dr Jordan DeVylder, another of the study’s authors, said:

“This study shows that young adults who are prone towards anxiety report less social anxiety if they frequently consume fermented foods with probiotics.
These initial results highlight the possibility that social anxiety may be alleviated through low-risk nutritional interventions, although further research is needed to determine whether increasing probiotic consumption directly causes a reduction in social anxiety.”

The study is to be published in the journal Psychiatry Research (Hilimire et al., 2015)

source: PsyBlog


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How Your Microbiome Controls Your Health

May 17, 2014     By Dr. Mercola

The interconnectedness of your gut, brain, immune, and hormonal systems is impossible to unwind. The past few years has brought a scientific flurry of information about how crucial your microflora is to your genetic expression, immune system, body weight and composition, mental health, memory, and minimizing your risk for numerous diseases, from diabetes to cancer.

Researcher Jeroen Raes, featured in the TED Talk, discovered that you might even belong to one of a few “microflora types”—which are similar to blood types. Research into the human microbiome is in its infancy, and there is much we do not yet understand.

That said, there are some facts of which we are already certain. It is becoming increasingly clear that destroying your gut flora with pharmaceutical drugs, harsh environmental chemicals, and toxic foods is a primary factor in rising disease rates.

Recent research suggests intestinal inflammation may play a critical role in the development of certain cancers. Until we begin to appreciate this complex relationship, we will not be able to prevent or intervene effectively in many of the diseases that are devastating people’s lives today.

In order for true healing and meaningful prevention to occur, you must continuously send your body messages that it is safe, not under attack, and that it is well nourished, supported, and calm. This article will focus on exactly how you can send your body these messages and why caring for your personal microbiome is so critical to every aspect of your health.

How Can You Feel Lonely with 100 Trillion Constant Companions?

The idea that microorganisms are to be “divided and conquered” is now an outdated view of our world. We not only live with them and are surrounded by them, but we depend on them for our very existence. Pamela Weintraub skillfully describes the symbiosis between humans and microorganisms in her June 2013 article in Experience Life magazine.1

Your body is a complex ecosystem made up of more than 100 trillion microbes that must be properly balanced and cared for if you are to be healthy.

This system of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa living on your skin and in your mouth, nose, throat, lungs, gut, and urogenital tract, is referred to as the “human microbiome.” It varies from person to person based on factors such as diet, health history, geographic location, and even ancestry.

When your microbiome falls out of balance, you can become ill. Those organisms perform a multitude of functions in key biological systems, from supplying critical vitamins to fighting pathogens, modulating weight and metabolism.

This army of organisms also makes up 70 percent of your immune system, “talking” directly to your body’s natural killer T-cells so that they can tell apart your “friendlies” from dangerous invaders. Your microbiome also helps control how your genes express themselves. So by optimizing your native flora, you are actually controlling your genes.

microbiome

 

Gut Instincts—Your Second Brain Talking

Your microbiome is closely intertwined with both of your brains—yes, you have TWO! In addition to the brain in your head, embedded in the wall of your gut is your enteric nervous system (ENS), which works both independently of and in conjunction with the brain in your head. According to New Scientist:2, 3

“The ENS is part of the autonomic nervous system, the network of peripheral nerves that control visceral functions. It is also the original nervous system, emerging in the first vertebrates over 500 million years ago and becoming more complex as vertebrates evolved—possibly even giving rise to the brain itself.”

Your ENS is thought to be largely responsible for your “gut instincts,” responding to environmental threats and sending information to your brain that affects your well-being.

I’m sure you’ve experienced various sensations in your gut that accompany strong emotions such as fear, excitement, and stress. Feeling “butterflies” in your stomach is actually the result of blood being diverted away from your gut to your muscles, as part of the fight or flight response.

These gut reactions happen outside of your conscious awareness because they are part of your autonomic nervous system, just like the beating of your heart. Your ENS contains 500 million neurons. Why so many? Because eating is fraught with danger:4

“Like the skin, the gut must stop potentially dangerous invaders, such as bacteria and viruses, from getting inside the body.
If a pathogen should cross the gut lining, immune cells in the gut wall secrete inflammatory substances including histamine, which are detected by neurons in the ENS. The gut brain then either triggers diarrhea or alerts the brain in the head, which may decide to initiate vomiting, or both.”

We now know that this communication between your “two brains” runs both ways and is the pathway for how foods affect your mood. For example, fatty foods make you feel good because fatty acids are detected by cell receptors in the lining of your gut, which then send warm and fuzzy nerve signals to your brain.

Knowing this, you can begin to understand how not only your physical health but also your mental health is deeply influenced by the health of your gut and the microbial zoo that lives there. Your gut microbes affect your overall brain function, from basic mood swings to the development of serious illnesses like autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia.

When It Comes to Inflammation, Your Microbiome Rules

Your gut is the starting point for inflammation—it’s actually the gatekeeper for your inflammatory response. According to Psychoneuroimmunologist Kelly Brogan, your gut’s microorganisms trigger the production of cytokines. Cytokines are involved in regulating your immune system’s response to inflammation and infection. Much like hormones, cytokines are signaling molecules that aid cell-to-cell communication, telling your cells where to go when your inflammatory response is initiated.

Most of the signals between your gut and your brain travel along your vagus nerve—about 90 percent of them.5 Vagus is Latin for “wandering,” aptly named as this long nerve travels from your skull down through your chest and abdomen, branching to multiple organs.6

Cytokine messengers produced in your gut cruise up to your brain along the “vagus nerve highway.” Once in your brain, the cytokines tell your microglia (the immune cells in your brain) to perform certain functions, such as producing neurochemicals. Some of these have negative effects on your mitochondria, which can impact energy production and apoptosis (cell death), as well as adversely impacting the very sensitive feedback system that controls your stress hormones, including cortisol.

So, this inflammatory response that started in your gut travels to your brain, which then builds on it and sends signals to the rest of your body in a complex feedback loop. It isn’t important that you understand all of the physiology here, but the take-away is that your gut flora’s influence is far from local! It significantly affects and controls the health of your entire body.

sources:
1 Experience Life June 2013

2 New Scientist December 17, 2012
3 Neurosciencestuff December 18, 2012
4 New Scientist December 17, 2012
5 American Journal of Physiology December 2002
6 WiseGeek Vagus Nerve