This past weekend, I had the incredible honor to be a part of Maria Shriver's incredible fundraiser to Wipe Out Alzheimer's at Equinox gym in LA. I spoke on a panel about nutrition and its powerful connection to brain health, and Human Resources catered their first event by designing a specialized Brain Boosting menu for 55 amazing yogis!
Usually when want to improve our brain function for whatever reason, we think we need a substance that acts directly on the brain- like caffeine, a pill or a stimulant. However, what holds a vital and irreplaceable key to optimal brain health is not some special kind of neurotransmitter, expensive supplement or pill, but rather: a healthy digestive system.
We don’t usually think of the brain and gut being related. In the west, we have a tendency to view things as specialized organs. More and more research is coming out about the GUT BRAIN axis, and how what we eat and the state of our digestive systems actually determines not just our cognitive function, but our risk for disease and our overall health. Out of all the aspects of therapeutic nutrition praties, I am by far the most passionate about gut health and it's powerful effects on our mental and physical wellbeing. The implications of having a healthy digestive system and microbiome are HUGE.
Fermented foods are my FAVORITE way to bolster the digestive system. After all, we are far more bacteria than we are human! Rebuilding our “good” digestive bacteria is the best way to strengthen our immune system, heal leaky gut (post on this coming soon), and mentally perform at the highest level. Probiotic foods and supplements are important as they replace missing or insufficient healthy bacterial species, helping to restorine balance. Fermented foods are living sources of probiotic beneficial bacteria.
I'm sharing here a recipe from the summit and one of my favorite fermented foods- Kombucha! Kombuchas are a kind of fermented tea, full of living probiotics that will boost your immune system, quench inflammation, heal the digestive lining, and help repopulate your beneficial bacteria. Some newcomers don't exactly find the taste of fermented tea appealing, so this recipe is a good way to get started on it! I added cold pressed turmeric for extra anti-inflammatory action, and some apple cider vinegar for a little more probiotic kick. Choose a fresh muddled fruit from the farmers market- I had peaches and strawberries, but feel free to add whatever fruits you have on hand! This makes one large carafe.
benefits: gut healing, fermented & probiotic, alkalizing, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory
16oz of ginger kombucha (Synergy brand is the most widely available- black bottle is best!)
juice of 1 lemon
3 TBSP Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (I like Bragg's).
turmeric root (about 4 TBSP of fresh pressed juice, or powdered turmeric)
6 oz soda water
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves (or basil!)
2 fresh peaches, sliced
1 cup strawberries, sliced
in the bottom of a large carafe, muddle the mint and fruit together until well combined and aromas have released
pour in the rest of the ingredients
let sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, and serve!