My mother was a nurse, in fact she ended her nursing career as an Acting Director of Nursing for a large public hospital.
So why am I telling you this?
One thing she has always said, based on her years working with patients, is that the brain is connected to the bowel. If there are problems or things aren’t just right in the bowel, then there are going to be brain problems. She didn’t mean that the brain was broken but that there would be emotional or social issues.
She would sometimes come home and tell us about a poor patient who had depression or some other mental illness and she always told us that they also had problems in the nether regions.
So that has had an influence on all of us, we eat well, get fibre, drink lots of water and exercise regularly to keep things moving smoothly. Sounds all a bit too much, huh???
Whether it is the water, eating enough fibre and keeping active that works for us, it is what most people believe is necessary for good bowel health.
However a study done by the University of Maryland in the USA, has found that it may also be the eating of high probiotic foods that can help with the brain issues.
The study was led by Matthew R. Hilimire and was published in Psychiatric Research journal (Volume 228, Issue 2).
It found that of the 700 American university students in the study, those who ate fermented foods, and particularly pickled foods, had less social anxiety symptoms.
Matthew Hilimire said; “It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety,” said researcher about the study results. I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.”
There is obviously a lot more study required and especially in the area of probiotics and it’s effect on Autism.
So it looks like my Mother’s years of “gut feel” that the brain is connected to the bowel is now being confirmed through scientific studies.
It may seem like a strange thing to be writing about in a food safety related article, but it would seem that with this sort of evidence now starting to appear, there is a significant potential for many more pickled / fermented foods to be appearing in our supermarkets and homes as people pick up on the health effects.
There are food safety implications to this, as this is not a big market right now, and most of these foods are made by small gourmet operators. Those who eat such foods as kimchi and sauerkraut have usually grown up with them. They are like Vegemite – usually an acquired taste. So it will be interesting to see what happens with this market.
Rachelle Williams, The Green Food Safety Coach.