A Second brain? In Your Gut?
Known as your ‘second brain’ or enteric nervous system (ENS) your gut may be responsible for surprisingly more than digestion. Your gut communicates with your brain, sending and receiving messages. Conventional medicine has long recognised of the link between stress, anxiety and depression and those experiencing irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, pain and bowel issues. New research suggests instead that it may be the other way around with evidence that irritation to the gut may send messages to the brain triggering mood changes.
The impact isn’t confined to the our mood. Researchers also found that the digestive system may also affect our memory and cognitive function. Furthermore, gut health has also been linked to psoriasis and eczema. So if our two brains are communicating in this way, how can we improve the conversation?
Improving Gut – Brain Communication
The key may be Kefir, a fermented milk drink, bursting with probiotics. A combination of yeast and bacteria (don’t let that put you off) originating in the Caucasus Mountains. Nobel researcher Elie Metchnikoff examined the beneficial effects of Kefir in 1908. In much of Europe, Kefir has long been established and can be found on supermarket shelves next to fruit juice and yogurt. I remember my first experience of the creamy, sour, lumpy, yogurt like drink whilst working in Poland in the 90s. An acquired taste at first, it’s now firmly part of the start to a typical PCG day.
Here’s one I made earlier…
Convinced? Or at the very least curious? Then you’re probably wondering how to make your own kefir. You’ll need to purchase kefir grains or find someone you know who is making their own kefir nearby (there’s even a Facebook group to help you locate them). Place the grains in a clean glass jar (metal jars and spoons will kill the kefir so stick to glass or plastic) with 3 cups of milk. You can also substitute milk with water, coconut milk, nut milk or other alternatives). Leave overnight or for 24 hours until your kefir is thickened and smells slightly sour. you’ll find that you develop your own preference for taste and how long you leave the kefir to ferment. In the beginning it’s trial and error.
Your greedy little kefir grains will then set about chowing down on the lactose during the culturing process producing a very drinkable, immune boosting, homemade probiotic. Drink it on it’s own or add to your smoothies. As they say in Poland, Smacznego!