How does all of this work??
I must admit that when I look under the hood of a car, I realize how little I know about all of the engine components that keep it running perfectly. It's not until there's a breakdown, that I actually have any concern about what's going on behind the scenes.
You know where I'm going with this, right? We have one amazing body, the components of which must last a lifetime--hopefully a long lifetime, well into our 80's, 90's or even until we're 100 or beyond!
How many things can we point to and say, "I won't need to replace this thing for decades!"?
With cars, we sometimes measure the lifetime by mileage. We had one that ran well over 100,000 miles--and racked up a lot of memories. BUT--not without taking care of it. Tune ups, oil changes, brakes, repairs after accidents! And sometimes it seemed costly, but in hindsight small expenditures with big payoffs. Worth every penny for safety and reliability.
Likewise--the amazing human body requires the same attention!
INFORM & INSPIRE
To help shed light on "what's going on under the hood"-- the focus today is on our "second brain."
WHAT??? WE HAVE TWO BRAINS!
Of course, when we think of the brain, we think of the organ protected by our skull. It is our control panel. But, we now know we have another equally important neural network located in our gut that is sometimes thought of as our "second brain." It is known as the enteric nervous system (ENS) and consists of around a hundred million nerves found in the lining of our gut! It communicates with the brain and the gut is now thought to be a key player in regulating inflammation and immunity.
We also know that the human body is made up of cells and bacteria, and our human cells are actually outnumbered by bacteria! Most of the trillions of bacteria in the human body are located in our gut and referred to as our microbiome. A diversity of bacteria in the gut helps maintain wellness. But if there's a shift away from the "normal" bacteria in our gut, this results in dysbiosis, and can contribute to illness and disease.
Watch this Ted Talk to learn more about how your gut and brain are connected!
Now that we know a new piece of "what's going on under the hood"--we must ask the question:
How can I keep my gut microbiome healthy?
Here's where food comes back into the health equation!
It is amazing to know that much of maintaining and promoting good health can be addressed by nutrition!
One way to keep your microbiome healthy is to include fermented foods as part of your diet.
WHAT ARE FERMENTED FOODS???
Fermentation is a process that helps preserve food. To ferment food, bacteria or yeast is used to break down sugars into simpler molecules like alcohols and acids. This introduces good bacteria (plus increases nutrition) and releases lots of flavor.
Good Choices of Fermented Foods to Try
Sauerkraut--fermented cabbage--delivers probiotics and fiber!
Kimchi--spicy Korean cousin to sauerkraut, also fermented cabbage, but with a kick (One of my husband's favorite!)
Kombucha--a fermented tea flavored with herbs and fruit. Kombucha is a refreshing effervescent drink that provides a nice dose of B vitamins! (My personal favorite!)
Yogurt, Kefir--look for labels that state "live and active cultures" and be mindful of sugar content. Best to buy plain and add your own fruit or add it to your smoothie recipe!
Tempeh--Naturally fermented soybeans with a slightly nutty flavor. A good source of plant based protein. Be sure to select Non-GMO Project verified since soy is high risk for GMO's.
Probiotic Olives--Coming soon! Watch our refrigerated section for this exclusive offering, only available at independent natural food stores. Alive and Well olives should be available the first week of March!
You can ferment foods yourself, or you can purchase them already prepared. You will find fermented foods at Choices in the refrigerated section, since the cultures are live.
Do not neglect your "second brain"!
Feed your microbiome!
Keep your engine running smoothly!
Resources and to learn more:
Of course, I have to share a recipe that includes one of the fermented foods discussed above--miso! Enjoy this quick and delicious ramen from Cheeky Kitchen! http://www.conversationswithacupcake.com/2012/04/pimped-out-ramen.html
Also, a new cooking video has been added to our website! It features yummy, simple dessert recipes: cocoa chia pudding, oat almond nutella cookies, figs, honey, rosewater, pine nuts, and brown and black sesame candies! Check it out by clicking here.
MONEY SAVING TIPS
Use Your Freezer!
- Frozen fruits and veggies are just as nutritious as fresh produce and are often less expensive. It can also save you money by avoiding spoilage.
- Double your recipes and freeze leftovers. Soups and stews work really well for this. This saves you time and keeps real, healthy food on your table rather than opting for fast food!
- When farmers' market season comes around, buy extra and freeze for future use. Nothing is better than local, organically grown produce! Click the link for some tips on how to get the best results.
Don't worry, I'm sure I'll share this link again this summer!
CONTINUE YOUR HEALTH JOURNEY!
LEARN! COOK! SAVE MONEY!