Immunity and the Second Brain published | 25 November Most of us seem to get hit pretty hard at least once every winter. We all know what that means: achy body, pounding head, stuffy nose, chills, fever, sore throat – the works. And it’s no wonder, really. As winter days roll in we see half of the sunlight that our bodies become used to in the summer, we get little to no fresh air, we eat all of the comfort foods, and we tend to move less. It’s the perfect storm for the winter plague. There are a number of well-known natural remedies for boosting the immune system: oil of oregano, garlic, and elderberry, for example. But it is actually probiotics and the body’s second brain, the gut, that are really the foundation for good health. The intricate network of organs that make up your digestive system (the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, colon, liver, gallbladder and pancreas) is typically referred to as your gut, but is known in the natural world as your ‘second brain’. Did you know that there are more interconnections and nerve endings in your stomach than in your brain? This system is made up of many different kinds of bacteria, yeast, mould and viruses. When this system is under duress from physical stress or mental stress, processed foods, antibiotics, caffeine or alcohol, our bodies cannot maintain a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. We depend on this balance to maintain bowel health, promote toxin removal, aid digestion, and for the absorption of vitamins and minerals, which is what ultimately builds and boosts our immune health. These bacteria are known as probiotics. The high-stress lives many of us lead today are extremely taxing for our digestive system, so we need to feed our bodies healthy probiotics every day in order to boost our immunity and our immune system’s health. Taking a high quality, therapeutic dose of a probiotic daily through a supplement is a good idea for almost everyone (except those suffering from an autoimmune condition), but there are lots of foods you can add to your diet that are rich in probiotics, nutrient dense, and delicious at the same time. Sauerkraut or kimchi — Made from fermented cabbage, carrots, ginger and other healing foods. Fermented vegetables aren’t high in probiotics but are high in organic acids, which will support the growth of good bacteria. These foods are also high in digestive enzymes, which make the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from food possible. Yogurt made from goat or sheep’s milk — This live-cultured form of probiotic, made by fermenting milk, is likely the most well-known source of healthy bacteria. It is a top ranking choice if it is sourced from organic, grass-fed animals, and it’s easy to substitute into lots of recipes. Kombucha — In Japanese cultures, kombucha has been used for over two-thousand years for digestive support, energy, detoxification and immune health. Made from the fermentation of black tea and a SCOBY (live colony of yeast and bacteria) to continuously produce probiotics, kombucha is effervescent and flavourful. Check labels and make sure to buy a low sugar product if you’re buying in store. Raw cheese — Any raw, unpasteurized cheese is the best way to get the benefit of probiotics. Goat’s milk and sheep’s milk are easiest for our bodies to digest. These and any A2 cow’s soft cheeses are particularly high in probiotics. Crunchy and Salty Raw Sauerkraut Ingredients 1 to 2 heads cabbage or pre-shredded cabbage 1 to 3 tablespoons pure sea salt (no additives) 1 one inch piece of peeled ginger per jar (may omit for preference) 4 to 6 Mason jars or other 16 ounce glass jar with tight lid 1 very large mixing bowl Instructions Boil your mason jars for at least 10 minutes to sanitize and let dry completely. Remove several outer layers of cabbage from each head – later you’ll need 1 full leaf per jar. Core the cabbage, then finely slice/shred – put into a very large bowl and a little at a time sprinkle salt onto the cabbage as you go. Mince the ginger. With clean hands, massage the salt into the cabbage to release the moisture. Mix in about a tsp of minced ginger per jar you will fill. Place a small amount of cabbage into your jar and use a wooden spoon or other kitchen tool to press all of the air out. Continue this process a little at a time until your jar is almost full – leave an inch of space at the top. Roll the cabbage leaf for each jar and press them into the space in each jar – you want as little air as possible in each jar to allow the best conditions for fermentation Lid each jar. Place your jars in a relatively cool spot and DON’T FORGET ABOUT THEM! Once a day open each jar to release pressure, then recap – if you don’t do this, the pressure will become too great to open the jar. Wait five to seven days and PRESTO! When it’s salty and crunchy to taste, put your jars in the fridge to slow the fermentation process. AMBER ELIZABETH REGISTERED HOLISTIC NUTRITIONIST R.H.N AmberElizabethNutrition@gmail.com, 519.497.8815 Amber Elizabeth is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who graduated from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. She is currently the on-staff nutritionist at Holistic Nutrition Nature’s Apotheke. Amber loves to cook and craft classic recipes into more nutrient rich, healthy, and whole food dishes that still satisfy her inner foodie! Holistic or holism is defined as: the theory that parts of a whole are in intimate connection, such that they cannot exist independently of the whole or cannot be understood without reference to the whole, which is thus regarded as greater than the sum of its parts. Holism is often applied to mental states, language, and ecology.