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Fermented Food And Brain Health

I hope you’ve enjoyed “Fermented February,” as we’ve explored the surprising health benefits of fermented foods. I believe it really could be transformational for someone you care about – maybe you.

For our last entry on this topic (for now), I want to look at something I alluded to earlier in the month.

We’ve all observed the spike in childhood developmental disorders, autism, attention deficit, inflammatory diseases like asthma and arthritis. The media are flooded with theories, studies, and drug-based solutions, but the real solution might just be in fermented food.

The Gut And the Brain

A couple of weeks ago, I quoted from Dr. David Williams about the linkage between the brain and the gut. There is a symbiotic linkage between them so strong that some physicians call the gut the “second brain.” It’s where we “feel” our emotions. For example, where do you experience “butterflies” when you’re nervous? In your midsection, right? One of the most important neural connections in your brain is the vagus nerve, which links your brain directly to the network in your digestive system.

Also, the blood system carried digested nutrients from your gut to the other parts of your body, including glucose to the brain. The problem is, nutrients aren’t the only thing in your blood system. Any viruses, bad bacteria, and toxins that process through your gut can also seep into your blood. This is especially true when your gut flora is unhealthy or you have what we call a “leaky gut,” meaning the powerful digestive lining of your colon has been compromised and cells from the inside are leaking out into your abdomen.

How does this affect small children?

Research by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride shows that a baby’s first brush with toxic gut flora comes from his mother. A healthy mother with a healthy gut flora gives her baby his first immune system through the uterus, vaginal birth, and breast milk. His exposure to her bacterial colonies populates his own. But through the explosion of antibiotics, birth control pills, and our toxic American diet, that bacterial flora has been compromised. There is also a possibility that, if the father’s gut flora is unhealthy, it can be passed to the mother through intercourse.

But before you go blaming each other, let’s get back to the root problem. A baby with an underdeveloped or toxic gut flora is not ready to receive and process the barrage of immunotoxic vaccines that are administered after birth. While the topic of vaccine damage is extremely controversial right now, there are at least 30 studies that I know of that show a direct linkage between vaccines and nervous system damage. I have heard reports of as many as 80 such studies, but I haven’t seen them all. But while the battle rages in the media, the solution is very often in our food.

When the child gets an ear infection, we take them to the pediatrician and the pediatrician gives them an antibiotic, which further damages the gut flora. Then, in an effort to wean them off breast milk, we introduce milk. Then bread. What’s his favorite food? Macaroni and cheese? Bread? Crackers? The gut flora suffers and struggles. He sleeps restlessly. He complains about his stomach hurting all the time. Or he becomes unresponsive, his auditory senses reduced to a numb mush of noise and pain.

What can we do to protect ourselves and our children?

Gut health is the centerpiece of the treatment of dozens of health conditions that most of us would consider unrelated:

  • Food allergies and sensitivities
  • Mood swings, depression, or schizophrenia
  • Colic, constipation, irritable bowel, colitis, and Chron’s disease
  • Arthritis or fibromyalgia
  • Eczema, psoriasis, and other degenerative skin conditions
  • Multiple sclerosis or encephalitis
  • Type I Diabetes

They all start with inflammation. Something in our bodies is trying to fight off a toxic invader, and that toxic invader is the food we eat. Remove the bad food and your body will have a chance to rest and recover from the battle.

Don’t know where to start? I suggest this as a rule of thumb: if it’s white, it’s not right. White flour, white refined sugar, and white milk (among other white foods) are toxic to your body. Get them out. You may have a sensitivity to them.

Still showing symptoms? Try to identify which foods you eat about two hours before you feel a flare up, and remove that food for a few weeks. For some people, it’s tomatoes, green peppers, onions, salsa, spicy foods, and tomato products. For others, it’s crackers and chips. The worst I see is when someone is addicted to a food that is killing them. I know a young man who could eat a box of Wheat Thins at one sitting, but then would become unresponsive for hours afterward. It was his favorite snack, but it was eating his gut flora.

Then, add a fermented food to your diet, to repopulate your gut with healthy, living microbes. Don’t like sauerkraut? Fine. Start with a raw cultured yogurt and Apple Cider Vinegar (make sure it says “the Mother” on the label – Bragg’s is a great one). Those are easy, entry-level fermented foods. Then try kimchi. It’s very accessible for most people. Kefir is another great probiotic food, although the first taste can be a learning curve for some people.Learn to

Learn to ferment your own vegetables. The Internet is loaded with easy recipes for fermented foods because people all over the world are rediscovering what our ancestors knew for thousands of years. Probiotic foods heal your gut, replenish your healthy bacterial defenses, and cleanse the body of the toxins that poison all the other organs. Give your body a sporting chance. Discover fermented foods for yourself.

Learn More, Share More

If you want to learn more, and you live in the Naples area, please come to one of our Fundamental Foods dinners at my office next to Sports Authority on Pine Ridge Road and Airport-Pulling Road. I would love to meet you.

If you came to our last Fundamental Foods, or you read the other articles in this series and you’ve been experimenting with fermented foods, please let me know how it’s been going in the comments on Facebook. It’s important that we all share our success stories in this community we’re building on Facebook. It’s amazing to me how people come in who have never heard any of this information and are skeptical. Real stories from real people can sometimes make a better case than a doctor. Be sure to let us know how it’s going. I’ll also do my best to handle any questions you might have.

I don’t say it enough: I’m so grateful for you. Thank you for joining me today. I’ll see you tomorrow for “Think Right Thursday.”

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

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