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A recent article in AARP points out that your gut has an important connection to your brain function. Perhaps the saying “you are what you eat” should really be “you feel what you eat.”
Officially called the enteric nervous system (ENS), layers of nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract send electrical signals to your brain and back. This is how your brain knows you are hungry, feeling good, stressed, or depressed. In fact, your digestive tract may manufacture as much as 90 percent of the body's serotonin, the feel-good hormone that regulates mood!
The following foods can help fuel the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that help to keep your gut-brain connection healthy.
Yogurt – Many people eat yogurt for the probiotic benefit, and a recent UCLA study found evidence that yogurt might actually affect the way the brain responds to the environment as well.
Cold Cooked Potatoes – Potatoes are typically avoided because they are high in the starch that digests quickly, causing blood pressure and insulin to surge and then dip. But cooking and chilling potatoes changes the starch into “resistant starch,” passing it to the colon undigested and, once there, serving as a prebiotic (roughage) that feeds the healthy bacteria living in the gut. Even so, if you are dieting eat cold potatoes sparingly and no cheating – the potatoes must be chilled after cooking, with no butter added. Tip: they make a great addition to salads.
Onions, Leeks & Garlic – These members of the allium family are some of the best sources of a soluble fiber called oligofructose, a natural source of “inulin”. Studies show that inulin stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. To activate their health-promoting compounds, allow chopped onions, minced garlic, or sliced leeks to rest for a few minutes before you cook them or add them to other ingredients.
Sauerkraut – Have you heard? Tangy pickled cabbage (sauerkraut), kimchi, and sour pickles are a great way to restore healthy gut bacteria after taking a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics are designed to wipe out illness-causing bacteria, and so often cause gastrointestinal stress. These foods contain live bacteria that can help repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria and enzymes that are easy on the gut and help the body absorb some nutrients more readily. Look for fermented vegetables that are refrigerated, not shelf-stable, canned or bottled products, which have been preserved using vinegar rather than being naturally fermented.
Get to know Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey (VNA) now, and all the home health services available to you and your loved ones, before you have a health emergency. We are proud to be the longest-serving VNA in the state of New Jersey, so we know a thing or two about helping seniors.
The Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey (VNA) is a leading provider of comprehensive home health care services in Morris, Hunterdon, Sussex, and Warren Counties in Northern New Jersey. Established in 1898, generations have known that just one call to VNA opens the door to quality, patient-centered home health care solutions that allow patients to remain in the comfort of their homes with dignity, health, and independence.
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