The Gut-Brain Connection
I have read so many wonderful articles on the gut-brain connection and thank all of those who have written and shared their knowledge on the subject.
When you consider the fact that the gut-brain connection is recognised as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, and that there’s no shortage of evidence of gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases, it’s easy to see how the balance of gut bacteria can play a significant role in your psychology and behaviour as well.
With this in mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, from cradle to grave, because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment.
Interestingly, these two organs are actually created out of the same type of tissue. During fetal development, one part turns into your central nervous system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen. This is what connects your two brains together, and explains such phenomena as getting butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, for example.
(For an interesting and well-written layman’s explanation of this connection, read through Sandra Blakeslee’s 1996 New York Times article Complex and Hidden Brain in Gut Makes Stomachaches and Butterflies.)
Your gut and brain work in tandem, each influencing the other. This is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on your mental health, and vice versa.
As a result, it should be obvious that your diet is closely linked to your mental health. Furthermore, it’s requires almost no stretch of the imagination to see how lack of nutrition can have an adverse effect on your mood and subsequently your behavior.
Tips for Optimizing Your Gut Bacteria
It’s important to realize that an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is actually located in your gut, which is why you need to regularly reseed your gut with good bacteria.
Additionally, when you consider that your gut is your second brain AND the seat of your immune system, it becomes easy to see how your gut health can impact your brain function, psyche, and behavior, as they are interconnected and interdependent in a number of different ways—several of which are discussed above. In light of this, here are my recommendations for optimizing your gut bacteria.
Fermented foods have been traditional staples in most cultures, but modern food manufacturing, with its focus on killing ALL bacteria in the name of food safety, has eliminated most of these foods.
You can find traditionally fermented foods like miso, tempeh, tamari, shoyu and natto in natural food stores. They’re not the dietary staples in the West as they are in the East but there are some delicious tasting recipes using all of these ingredients in the recipe section of my website. Fermented foods are the best route to optimal digestive health. Miso soup should be a daily staple.
Home Remedy for Digestive Problems
This tea helps with digestive problems and is simple to make.
1 teaspoon kuzu
1 Umeboshi plum
Several drops of Shoyu
Dissolve one teaspoon of pure kuzu in 2 or 3 tablespoons of water. Add 1 cup of cold water to the dissolved kuzu.
Bring to a boil over a very low flame, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to avoid lumping, until the liquid becomes translucent, for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the pulp of ½ to 1 umeboshi plum that has been pitted and finely chopped. Reduce the flame as low as possible. Add several drops of shoyu and gently stir. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Drink and eat while hot.
There are many other home remedies, medicinal teas and 200 delicious recipes in my book ‘Macrobiotics for all Seasons’ available worldwide on amazon.
In good health