Probiotics, Lacto-Fermented Foods and Digestive Enzymes: Important additions to your Diet


Author: Jane Casey
August 2013

Good health is, to a very large degree, dependent on a well functioning digestive tract. Digestion is the process of changing food into a form that they body can absorb into the blood, nourish cells and provide energy. Of all of the bodily functions, digestion has the greatest influence on our mental state.

In other words, the belly rules the mind. Think about some of the foods you eat and how you feel afterward.  Do you feel tired or somewhat out of out it after you have eaten certain foods?  Do you experience uncomfortable symptoms, such as heartburn, gas or bloating? Are you constipated for hours or days? These are often signs that changes are needed in your diet to promote good digestion.

Digestive Enzymes

A major factor in good digestion relies on the amount of digestive enzymes in our bodies. Different enzymes are needed to break down different types of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Enzymes are found in all raw foods, plants and fruits.

The brain's chemicals-neurotransmitters (such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine) are dependent on proper digestion. Therefore if digestion is inadequate, the production of neurotransmitters involved in our brain function and attention will also be inadequate. That is why probiotics, fermented foods and digestive enzymes are so important. They help assimilate and break down nutrients as well as remove toxins from the body.

Stress, environmental pollution, illness and chemicals diminish the body's ability to effectively produce enzymes. Children with Autism usually have low levels of certain enzymes or less active enzymes, and often both. There is also a link between a lack of enzymes and inflammation of the gut and brain.

Pair your protein meals with raw fruits that contain enzymes, such as pineapple and papaya. Pineapple contains bromelain and papaya contains papain and chymopapain, which are enzymes that help the liver and pancreas break down proteins. They also have anti-inflammatory properties.

Drinking a squirt of lemon or Bragg's Raw Apple Cider Vinegar in a glass of water prior to eating may also help the digestive process by stimulating the juices in the mouth and gut.

To Learn More, Go To: Why Take Enzymes? 10 Tips When Considering Enzymes

Creating a good environment with prebiotics, probiotics and lacto-fermented foods
Creating a good environment in your gut includes the additions of prebiotics, probiotics and lacto-fermented foods. These small additions to your diet can offer big changes in improving your overall health.

Prebiotics Prebiotics are foods that stimulate the growth of the good bacteria also known as probiotics. You can find prebiotics in dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichokes, raw onions and leeks, raw asparagus, bananas, and garlic.
ProbioticsProbiotics are often referred to as nature's antibiotics or good bacteria. Your digestive system contains both good and bad bacteria. A healthy body is composed of about 80% good bacteria. One way to ensure you are getting good bacteria in your body is with probiotics. Probiotics boost your immune system and produce hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid, which can stop bad bacteria from growing. Our gut is referred to as our "second brain" and what goes on in our gut directly affects our brain. It is where most of the brains chemicals are made. The good bacteria also help us with our bowel movements and daily bowel movements that are shaped like a hot dog are a key to a healthy functioning gut.
Lacto-fermented foods and DrinksLacto-fermented foods are foods that are raw, living organisms full of naturally healthy bacteria. The name Lacto stands for lactobacillus, which is one of the good bacteria in your digestive tract. Lacto-fermented foods transform nutrients and make minerals more bioavailable and easier to digest in the body. When you incorporate lacto-fermented foods into your diet, you are helping to replenish and diversify the bacteria cultures that may be absent.

A great video on how to make Kombucha:
Since Kombucha is high in oxalates, children sensitive to foods high in oxalates need to consider other options.