Our gut is often referred to as our second brain. It’s why we get a ‘gut feeling’ about something when we’re making difficult decisions or those butterflies in our stomach when we’re nervous.
A healthy gut is important for a healthy you as the gut and brain are connected through a number of pathways, including our immune system and by trillions of neurotransmitters – chemical messengers that can boost and balance signals between nerve cells. Some neurotransmitters produced in the brain help control feelings and emotions and the same neurotransmitters are also produced in the gut.
However, many consumers are confused about exactly what gut health foods they should be consuming. So, as with many aspects of their life, they’re doing their own research online and making decisions based on those findings. What was once considered a little left field is now finding social acceptance in the mainstream (think kombucha, kimchi, kefir).
Milk has a large role to play in good digestive wellness. It contains many nutrients including calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, and B12, which help your body by improving digestion, energy levels, eyesight and maintaining healthy blood pressure. Some of the best sources of these milk nutrients are full-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt. Significant research is being done to learn more about how nutrition across all life stages may impact the gut-brain axis. Smarter Lives is funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and led by New Zealand research institute, AgResearch with support from Fonterra.
It is investigating how foods influence brain function through the various connections between the gut and the brain. The Smarter Lives research programme will build on existing research and unlock how we can influence the two-way communication between the gut and the brain and help optimise cognitive development across all life stages.
These days probiotics has become somewhat of a buzz word. From boosting immunity to improving digestion, probiotics have been touted as the “superhero” of the gut bacteria underworld.
Basically, probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts which are especially good for our gut health. There are trillions of bacteria living in our digestive systems – this is our gut microbiome which helps us digest food and can protect us from invading bad bacteria.
Dr James Dekker, Probiotics Scientist at Fonterra’s Research and Development Centre says we are reaching a cross roads when it comes to the study of gut bacteria.