We've spoken about probiotics a lot as well. Throughout the years, we've discovered the beauty of DIY fermentation and feel in love with developing recipes with a bit of the pickled side. And not solely because of the taste. It's because a healthy gut is crucial for heačthy brain and neural system.

I'm one of those who have been dealing with general as well as social anxiety disorder since childhood. In case you haven't experienced an anxiety episode so far, try to remember the last time you were REALLY nervous. You feel it in your stomach. You feel sick. Some people puke when nervous. Or even get diarrhea. Depression, for instance, can drastically affect one's appetite. It's pretty obvious that what's happening in our heads does affect gastrointestinal processes. Finally, researches looked into this connection the other way around and came to a conclusion - gut bacteria do indeed affect mental health. It is not clear at this point which bacteria strains affect which neurological processes directly, but the connection is undoubtedly there.

There are more neurons in the gastrointestinal tract than anywhere else except the brain. Thus, our gut is highly susceptible to what we're feeling, what we are doing, and what we are eating. When my grandmother died after a few months of battling the deadly pancreas cancer, I dived into research. That's when I learned how many patients suffering with gastrointestinal cancer had had an immense history of stressful living. It made sense. My lovely grandma spent her whole life stressing over everybody else, except herself. She'd often say how bad her digestion was due to all the stress.

That was the tipping point of my life, which made me even more aware of how important it is to work on myself and finally overcome (or at least try to) my anxiety tendencies. I've been doing periodical probiotic therapies ever since. It's been two years and even though I cannot show you the numbers, lab results or charts, just like many other people have witnessed after incorporating probiotics into their lives - my mental health has gradually gotten better. Of course, the anxiety is still deeply rooted inside of me, but I feel like handling it has been incredibly easy since taking charge of my digestion. 

The well-being of gut-brain axis

Taking care of your microbiome is quite simple for those of us who are already deeply immersed in the world of wholesome eating. What you can do to benefit your gut health is incorporating more probiotic and prebiotic foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha, water kefir, miso, ACV, sourdough bread, pickled veggies, and cultured plant-based yogurt. Make sure to include some prebiotic (fermentable fibers) wholefoods as well, for instance: garlic, oats, leek, asparagus, almonds, and onions. Last but not least - there are many supplements on the market. Make sure to purchase a product with at least 20 billion colony forming units, otherwise, you might not be able to see a difference. 

Make sure to check a whole video on using probiotics, a video on making fermented foods, as well as the following recipes which will benefit your microbiome:

For further reading, take a look at some published studies on a link between mental health and microbiome - 1, 2, 3.

Written by Masha.