Feed Your Second Brain.

 
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How’s your gut microbiome these days?

 

I’m talking about that 2kg smear of good bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses, and protozoa hanging out in your intestines.

 

New science points to the importance of a flourishing gut microbiome in maintaining optimum physical and mental health, and new brands are leveraging old knowledge to help you and your gut stay in optimum health.

 

By old knowledge I’m talking about unpasturised, fermented food and drink that humans have enjoyed for thousands of years: Real yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, and tempeh are full of live, gut-friendly bacteria.

 

You’d be forgiven for thinking this sounds counterintuitive - for decades a sanitised, pill-popping, germ-free life has been thought of as ideal. But this belief is being tempered by new research that has identified a connection between excessive cleanliness, unnecessary use of antibiotics and processed junk food with weakened, unhealthy guts, lacking in bacterial diversity. This leaves the digestive system unable to function to its full potential, which in turn can lead to increased allergies, IBS, immunodeficiency problems, and even MS.

 

Gut health also influences the Enteric Nervous System which is responsible for managing digestion and is embedded in the lining of our gastrointestinal tract. The ENS is often referred to as our second brain due to the massive number of neurons therin, and its ability to function independently of the brain.

 

We’re learning that the ENS is powerfully connected to the Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord) and can directly affect the brain for better or worse. Put simply this means eating pro-microbiome food makes you less prone to things like low energy, depression and dementia.

 

Finally, it’s now clear that a healthy gut microbiome also strengthens the immune system. This is because the good bacteria, viruses, fungi etc. attack potentially harmful pathogens before they can build up in our system.

 

Think of your gut microbiome as a digestion enhancer + front line bouncer for your immune system + encourager of natural happy chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. It’s a beautifully symbiotic relationship that’s evolved with us over millions of years - a relationship we’ve recently forgotten about thanks to a 20th century mantra of spotless convenience.

 

Today it seems like common sense to try a new/old approach to a balanced diet where highly processed foods are dialed out and simpler, live fermented foods are reintroduced in their place.

 

New challenger brands are offering us the chance to change our diets for the better: Sugary sodas can be swapped for flavoured kombucha and coconut water - sweetened thickend milk OUT, live yogurts and kefir IN - gut-rotting table sauces dumped, yummy sauerkraut and kimchi embraced.

 

Look after your guts and they will look after you.

 

Sources:
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/nov/06/microbiome-gut-health-digestive-system-genes-happiness
https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-fallible-mind/201701/the-pit-in-your-stomach-is-actually-your-second-brain
https://www.sciencealert.com/you-have-a-second-brain-we-now-know-how-it-makes-you-poop-enteric-nervous-system
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/

JP Thurlow is a Partner at The Craftory, the counter-corporate anti-VC on a $300M mission to back the world's boldest challenger brands in the consumer goods space.

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