How to Reduce Anxiety with Fermented Foods

How to Reduce Anxiety with Fermented Foods

Can fermented foods make you a happier person? Can they even up your social game? It may seem farfetched but, apparently, it’s not.

When I’m not eating a clean diet, including fermented foods, and taking a good probiotic, I start to feel more stressed and overwhelmed. In the past, I didn’t know how to reduce anxiety so I’d wake up at 3 am worrying about everything! Of course, the last thing I’d want to do after a poor night’s sleep is socialize and make new friends.

The Anxiety-Gut Connection

Stress can disrupt the balance of your gut flora, which then affects hormones, such as cortisol. Waking up in the middle of the night is a byproduct. These types of symptoms are enhanced if you drink wine to calm your nerves.

The gut flora/microbiota also regulates hormone balance. If you suffer from PMS and PMS-related anxiety, it’s likely due to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.

The Role of Fermented Foods

In a recent study of young adults, an association was found between fermented foods and a reduction in social anxiety. Researchers found that among students who were prone to being anxious and hyper, those who ate fermented foods were less anxious overall.

Another study from McMaster University showed that mice treated with antibiotics became more antisocial. Once their good bacteria levels returned, their behavior returned to normal. Who knew it could be that simple?

Getting Started

If you’re wondering how to reduce anxiety in your life, it might be worth increasing your daily intake of beneficial bugs by adding sauerkraut, kimchi and lots of greens to your diet. Making them is super simple, and I share a bunch of recipes on my site for beginners and adventure seekers alike.

While I prefer homemade ferments, you can find them at the grocery store. Just be sure to look for them in the refrigerated section. Fermented foods found on a shelf have been pasteurized, which means the beneficial bacteria and enzymes are dead.

Free Consultation

If you have any questions about how to reduce anxiety with fermented foods, or how to improve the health of your gut, email me to book a free consultation. I would love to hear from you and get you started on your healing journey.

Prebiotic vs. Probiotic: Which Is Right for Me?

By now, you probably know a bit about the enormous benefits probiotics provide for the body (especially if you follow this blog!). But if you’re not sure why you should be eating prebiotic foods, or have never heard of such a thing, let’s clear up the confusion.

Prebiotic foods are carbohydrates that feed your gut bacteria. They are grouped into 3 types: non-starch polysaccharides, soluble fibre, and resistant starch. Non-starch polysaccharides include things like guar gum, inulin and pectin; soluble fibre includes flaxseed and cruciferous vegetables; and resistant starch is found in items like plantains and white rice.

Things like guar gum are often used as thickeners in ingredients like canned coconut milk, and if you eat plenty of vegetables, you’re probably getting adequate soluble fibre. But what about resistant starch?

The Scoop on Resistant Starch

If you’ve been following a low-carb diet for a while, you may want to consider adding resistant starch back in to encourage good bacteria growth in your gut. Low-carb diets usually limit or exclude sources of resistant starch. But rather than adding inches to your waistline, these special starches get eaten by the beneficial bacteria. Just make sure you limit your intake to a small portion each day, and don’t go overboard.

Here are my favorite sources of resistant starch:

  • Potato starch

  • Green plantains

  • Green banana flour

  • Starchy vegetables like carrots, beets and sweet potatoes

Can I Take a Prebiotic Instead of a Probiotic?

The short answer? No.

You need both prebiotics AND probiotics for a healthy gut bacteria balance. Prebiotics will just feed the bad bacteria if the good bacteria from your probiotics isn’t present. And if you’re not taking a prebiotic supplement like inulin and you and don’t eat many vegetables, you’re in danger of the bad bacteria growing out of control and causing health problems.

More About Prebiotic Foods

More and more research about prebiotics is released every day, and it’s all part of a larger conversation about optimal gut health and supporting your beneficial bacteria. If you’re interested in learning more, read this article by respected researcher Chris Kresser about prebiotics and resistant starch.

And if you’d like some personalized guidance in incorporating more prebiotics and probiotics into your diet, get in touch to schedule a Breakthrough Session with me.

What Is Water Kefir? How to Make It and Why Drink It

Have you ever seen kefir in the refrigerated section of your grocery store—or better yet, given it a taste? Kefir is a sour, yogurt-like drink that contains a healthy dose of probiotics. Kefir grains, which look a bit like cottage cheese, are actually colonies of bacteria and yeast that quickly ferment milk.

If you can’t tolerate dairy, however, there’s still a way to get these beneficial bacteria into your system. The answer is water kefir.

How to Make Water Kefir

Water kefir recipes vary, but the principle is the same: place water kefir grains in a jar of sugar water or juice, cover with a lid, and let sit in a warm room for a day or two. When the water or juice becomes cloudy and less sweet, you’ll know it’s time to strain out the grains and enjoy the finished kefir (or store it in the fridge). You can place the grains in a fresh jar of sugar water and repeat the process for a continuous supply of kefir.

It’s important to note that milk kefir grains and water kefir grains are not the same thing, and they won’t work interchangeably. The easiest way to get water kefir grains is to buy them online. Cultures for Health is a reputable source and they have a wealth of instructional videos and FAQs to help.

Worried about drinking sugar? Allow me to explain! The kefir grains break down the sugar, and this process is what produces the probiotic-rich properties. You can use organic white, raw or rapadura sugar. The sugar content will decrease as the probiotics and enzymes develop.

Once you’ve made water kefir a few times, you’ll find the process quite easy. There really isn’t much to do besides let the grains sit in the sugar water and do their work!

Take It Further

Water kefir recipes are less popular than milk kefir recipes, but they’re gaining popularity as more people discover they can get the same probiotics without the dairy. After your water kefir has finished fermenting, you can do a second ferment with fresh berries or other fruit. Simply place the chopped fruit back in the finished kefir and let sit for another day or two. The result will be a fizzy drink similar to soda—but far healthier, of course!

Curious to learn more about fermentation? I contributed an entire chapter of gut-healing recipes to The Secret Life of Your Microbiome by Susan L. Prescott, MD, PhD and Alan C. Logan, MD. These life-changing recipes were an integral part of my health and wellness journey, and I’m thrilled to share them with you. The book is out in September, but you can reserve your copy on Amazon today!

Gut Health & Cancer: The Surprising Correlation

I was at both of my mom’s doctors’ appointments when she was given the dreaded news: you have cancer. This has been a summer of appointments, hospital visits, and sheer worry. It’s only been 10 days since she had surgery, which was followed by a bad bacterial infection.

Thankfully, she’s starting to feel better. But her gut flora is still messed up. Stress, medications, antibiotics, processed foods, and surgeries are all factors that cause the gut’s balance of good and bad bacteria to break down. Simply put, when the gut’s bacteria is out of whack, inflammation sets in, leading to many diseases.

A healthy gut flora can help prevent and fight cancer and other illnesses. Scientists and researchers are currently conducting studies to confirm this and further educate us on this important connection. In fact, Daniel Chen, head of cancer immunotherapy research at Roche’s Genentech division, had this to say in a phone interview:

"Five years ago, if you had asked me about bacteria in your gut playing an important role in your systemic immune response, I probably would have laughed it off. Most of us immunologists now believe that there really is an important interaction there.”

I’m grateful for the work I do, so I can help my mom recover by increasing the beneficial bacteria through pro and prebiotic-rich foods. Her appetite is still quite weak, and I can’t get her to have green shakes and sauerkraut yet, but I’m filling her plate with as many nutrients as I can.

Gut Healing Foods & Supplements

  • BioK mixed with chia seeds and banana

  • Homemade gluten-free “Focaccia Bread”, made with Italian probiotic spice, slathered with organic peanut butter (stay tuned for the recipe!)

  • Bifidobacteria tablets, plus a 5-billion count probiotic

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, feel free to contact me with questions or concerns about your gut flora. I’m here to help.