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Mind the Gut: the Power of Probiotics
What an exciting time we are living in with the new discoveries of nutrient-dense live food and the many ways it benefits our body, mind and emotion in the long run. At the forefront of the latest cutting-edge research on nutritional medicine – which encompasses other disciplines such as psychiatry, physiology, microbiology and neuroscience – the mind-gut connection is gaining momentum and is increasingly adding revolutionary evidence to the intricate and fascinating interaction between mind, body and emotions.
The gut is a much more sophisticated and smarter system than most people realise. It can function independently from the brain as it has its own intelligence (Enteric Nervous System). Its lining consists of a complex network of between 50 and 100 million nerve cells and neurons in charge of the whole gastrointestinal tract. The brain and the gut are primarily connected through the vagus nerve (‘gut-brain axis’) through which bi-directional chemical messages are exchanged, thus influencing our physical, emotional and mental well-being. When this communicative channel is unbalanced, major health problems arise, accompanied by unhappy mindset, fatigue, moodiness, anxiety, and depression, as Dr. Emeran Mayer and other studies have recently shown (1).
More interestingly, ancient healing traditions similarly recognized the same gut-brain connection thousands of years ago: whereas Ayurveda treats the gut in order to treat the brain through life style, diet and specific herbs by addressing agni, the transformative force, Chinese medicine identifies the gut feelings as the yin and the gut reactions as the yang, thus preserving and tonifying the stomach-QI though acupuncture, herbal remedies and probiotic supplements.
Hippocrates’ well-known saying ‘all disease begins in the gut’ is further confirmed by Dr. Edward Bach, the founder of flower therapy, who demonstrates that diet is a vital factor in treating any disease: food in fact influences the pH (acidity) of the intestines as well as the bacterial flora in the colon (2). Dr. Bach further classifies gut organisms into seven groups (Nosodes) matching seven emotional imbalances: fear, uncertainty, insufficient interest in present circumstances, loneliness, over-sensitivity to influences and ideas, despondency or despair, and over-care for the welfare of others. After administering these remedies, he then gradually developed a more subtle way to restore and prevent disease by using the healing agents found in plants and trees, generally known as Bach Flower Remedies.
It is thus not ‘all in our head’ and that’s good news! We now have more ways to effectively impact any cellular, emotional and mental imbalance through our gut, the ‘other brain’. Focusing on dietary habits for instance is an effective way to enjoy wellbeing on a daily basis as it positively minimises anxiety and stress levels, thus promoting healthy digestion and maximum nutrient absorption. A recent study has shown that probiotics and fermented kefir have dramatic effects on depressed patients (3). Good bacteria minimises the toxic debris of our digestion, balances metabolism, boosts the immune system, increases production of the wellbeing neurotransmitter serotonin and the anti-depressant amino acid tryptophan, all obtained from our diet and generated by a healthy gut microbiota.
Just increasingly adding more organic plant-based meals and fresh fermented foods – sauerkraut, fermented pickles (tsukemono), soybeans (natto) and plums (umeboshi), unpasteurized miso, fermented bean curd (furu tofu), nut cheese, kimchi, tempeh, yogurt – as well as raw probiotic beverages such as water kefir, kombucha and apple cider vinegar, can significantly provide beneficial bacteria enriching the diversity of our gut microbiota with long-lasting healthier and happier results (4).
For a deeper gut reset, juice cleanses are one of the most effective and delicious ways to flush out toxins and increase the proliferation of good bacteria and digestive enzymes in order to reduce inflammation, restore the digestive system and replenish the body with bioavailable nutrients. Conveniently bottled for your daily dose of powerful antioxidants, trace minerals, proteins and vitamins, the nutrient-dense juice of organic fruit and vegetables, along with probiotic kefirs, aloe vera elixirs and superfoods, is quickly absorbed by cells so that the nervous and digestive system is naturally restored with the highest level of health and vitality.
Hydrotherapy perfectly complements juice cleanses in resetting your gut bacteria by flushing out the colon with filtered water to further dislodge toxic debris and remove excessive intestinal gas, hardened waste and parasites. Especially when cleansing, colonics unclog the gut so you can experience the best absorption of nutrients as well as a potent boost of energy, new cells and tissue-rejuvenation (5).
- Emeran Mayer. 2016. The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation within our Bodies Impacts our Moods. See also David Perlmutter & K. Loberg, Brain Maker, 2015; Vincent Pedre, Happy Gut, 2015 and Michael Ruscio, Healthy Gut Healthy You, 2018.
- Edward Bach & Charles E. Wheeler. 1925. Chronic Disease, A Working Hypothesis.
- Caroline J. K. Wallace & Roumen Milev. 2017. The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: A Systematic Review. Ann Gen Psychiatry, 16, 18.
- More tips and tools to kick start your homemade fermented foods at Nourishme Organics.
- Head to Wonderlandspa in Bondi Beach for the best colonics ever.