The Gut/Brain Connection
Are you familiar with the gut-brain axis? In short, it’s the complex signaling pathway between our brain and our digestive system, and it’s controlled in part by the microbes living in our gut! This means that the health and composition of our microbiome greatly impacts the functioning of our brain and entire nervous system.
In fact, the microbes living in our gut (mostly in our large intestine) play an absolutely critical role in our overall health and the functioning of our various organ systems. They help to digest our food, synthesize vitamins, modulate our immune system, and so much more. But we need to have enough of the ‘good guys’ (probiotic bacteria) present in order for things to stay in balance.
Unfortunately though, due to the overuse of antibiotics in modern medicine and in our food supply (in factory farmed meat & dairy), along with a chronically overworked and under-slept way of life, chemical exposures from our environment, etc., many people’s gut microbiome has become severely compromised and imbalanced, which can contribute to the development of an array of chronic diseases and other health issues.
The good news is that we can easily work on rebalancing our gut microbiome and treat many chronic health issues with the help of functional foods like kimchi, as they contain a multitude of probiotic bacteria, including psychobiotics.
What Are Psychobiotics?
Psychobiotics is the term used for probiotic bacteria strains which have the ability to positively alter our brain function, including the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression.
Some of the beneficial bacteria present in kimchi and other fermented foods have been found in multiple studies to exert a number of positive health effects when consumed, such as increasing tryptophan levels (a precursor to serotonin, necessary for proper mood regulation), decreasing cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and increasing GABA levels (an anti-anxiety neurotransmitter).
And this just the beginning! We still have so much to learn about how the microbes in our gut affect us. But when you consider what we’ve learned so far, you can clearly see that we’d be missing out on major health benefits by failing to consume them regularly.
Kimchi – My #1 Psychobiotic and Functional Food!
I’ve been eating kimchi almost daily since I was a baby, and I still love it as much as ever! I was born in Korea where kimchi is the national food and is eaten by almost everyone every day, usually multiple times per day! Even before I knew about all of the amazing benefits of eating kimchi regularly, I understood how good it made me feel compared to periods where I didn’t eat it as often.
Kimchi contains powerful psychobiotic microbes that can help to kick anxiety and depression to the curb. But the trick is, you need to eat it daily (or even 2-3 times daily, like my fellow Koreans and I often do!) in order to really see and feel maximum benefits.
If you’re a kimchi newbie, you may want to start with 1 tablespoon per day and work your way up, otherwise you may feel a bit uncomfortable for a while with gas and bloating, as there will be a significant change in microbiome flora diversity happening in your belly!
I find the study of our gut microbiome to be incredibly fascinating and I can’t wait to see what new discoveries will be made in the area in the future. But for now, I’m thankful knowing that eating functional foods like kimchi every day is going a long way towards maintaining my health and vitality, thanks to the billions of probiotic bacteria present in each serving, even if we don’t yet know all of the ways that they’re helping us.
To your most vibrant life,
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