Every morning, as soon as our feet hit the floor, an opportunity is before each of us. Most of us have tasks, to-do’s, and tight schedules in the early hours of the day, but we also have an incredible chance to do something good for our bodies that doesn’t require a lot of time. Sure, making the bed, meditation, and exercise of some sort to move the body are all great things to do in the morning. But there’s something else we can do that’s all too easy to overlook and skip. Maybe you’ve been eating the same breakfast for years. Or maybe, you don’t even eat first thing in the morning. Or, do you just grab something quick and easy because you’re way out the door? While most of us value time above all else in the morning, we should also value something greater: our health.
Our gut and mind are directly connected through a nerve in our bodies called the vagus nerve. This important nerve transmits a secret language throughout the day and our gut can literally speak to our minds and the mind can speak to the gut all day long via this nerve. Isn’t that incredible? Studies have shown that consuming cultured foods first thing in the day, which are all good sources of probiotic cultures, can set our guts and minds up for success all day long because of the way cultured foods’ probiotics nourish both important systems and help strengthen the gut-brain connection via the vagus nerve all day long. This entire gut-brain system is what we call the microbiome, and it also includes our immune system and where 70-80% of our serotonin production is made. As many people know, serotonin is the neurotransmitter linked to good mental health. So what you put in your tummy first thing each day literally has an effect on your brain, digestion, immunity, mood, and even energy all day long.
The Benefits of Eating Cultured Foods First Thing During the Day
Luckily, eating a healthy meal rich in cultured foods doesn’t have to take much time or thought. Most of these foods can be conveniently packaged and are all available at your local stores. All you have to do is look for these gems! Below are some of the top foods to add to your day and 5 ways they can help you feel more balanced, energized, and healthy all day long. As a result, you may sleep better, digest food better, be able to exercise more efficiently (or just get started exercising), and have fewer cravings for less-optimal foods high in unhealthy sugars and unhealthy fats as a result. What we feed our guts actually influences the foods we crave the rest of the day. Probiotic-rich cultured foods help us crave less sugary sweets and junk food, less fried fast food, and less processed foods in general because probiotics feed the good bacteria in our guts and help destroy the bad bacteria that crave these unhealthier choices because that’s what they use to survive and feed off of.
The Best Probiotic Foods to Add to Your Morning Routine
Lifeway kefir is one of many probiotic-rich cultured foods that help support your gut-brain connection. It is an ancient artifact and goes back many centuries as being one of the most important cultured foods throughout human history. We believe in it and love it so much, we have an incredibly vast product line so you have a wide availability of options for you to choose from. Other foods high in beneficial cultures are probiotic cultured cheeses (not all cheese is cultured and high in probiotics, so check the label), miso (fermented soybean paste), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), kimchi (fermented spicy cabbage and other vegetables), and yogurt (again, check the label, not all yogurts contain probiotic cultures; look for the live and active cultures probiotic seal). If you’re vegan or just dairy-free, we also offer an exclusive cultured vegan, organic, and gluten-free cultured oat milk known as Lifeway Oat for our dairy-free vegan friends too!
All of these foods are high in active live enzymes that enhance the uptake of the probiotic cultures. You won’t get that same synergistic experience from popping a probiotic pill because it is not a living food like these options are. So choose one or two of them and start your day out each morning with one of these options. Maybe that’s a chilled glass of our delicious kefir, or our kefir poured onto a quick bowl of low-sugar cereal or bowl of overnight oats. Or, perhaps it’s a smoothie made with kefir, a delicious alternative to your standard gallon of milk! You can also swap out processed cheese for our Farmer Cheese if you’re more of a savory person first thing each day. We have so many recipe options to choose from, so pick one that looks quick and easy to you, and give it a try.
5 Ways Probiotic Cultured Foods Help You Start Your Day Off Right
1. Your Gut Needs Time to Wake Up With You (and cultured foods’ probiotics assist)
Moving each morning is something we can all do to help our bodies wake up, along with a nice cup of coffee or tea, or maybe even lemon water, of course. But cultured foods help in a different way you might not know. The probiotics in these foods help our guts have what they need to conquer the day. Think of it this way: your gut needs to eat a healthy breakfast every day just like you, and even just a small dose of cultured foods can help jumpstart your brain and body to give it what it needs first thing. You’ll likely find your gut functions better and allows you to move more naturally, eat better, and have more positive energy all day long as a result.
2. Sets Your Mind Right For the Day With a Positive Mood
As mentioned, our brains function more efficiently when we nourish our guts because of the vagus-nerve gut-brain effect. Since serotonin is mostly produced in our guts and microbiome, it’s vital we nourish our gut health first thing each day. Refined, processed sugary foods feed bad bacteria, as does fried food, fast food, and any processed convenience food high in fat, sugar, calories, and a laundry list of chemical-based ingredients. Cultured foods, on the other hand, along with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains nourish the good bacteria in our gut and those bacteria help produce more serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter responsible for a healthy, positive mood. Many of these foods, like our kefir, are also natural sources of B vitamins. B vitamins are also vital for a healthy brain and positive mood all day long. Kefir is a natural source of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6, both vital to a healthy mood. It also contains 12 different probiotic strains with a total count of 25-30 billion probiotic units per serving! Studies show that kefir directly impacts a more positive state on mental health as a result of its vast and rich strains and units of probiotics.
3. Cultured Foods Are Some of the Most Nutrient-Dense Options
If you look at cultured foods, it’s obvious they are more nutrient-dense than processed granola bars or a fast-food drive-thru breakfast sandwich. Cultured foods like kefir, sauerkraut (great on toast!), kimchi (great with eggs and whole-grain toast as well!), probiotic-rich yogurt low in sugar, and probiotic cheeses are all-natural foods that aren’t highly refined. These foods also include natural vitamins, minerals, and fiber to nourish your brain and body without the negative effects of processed fats and highly refined sugars that can be addicting and drain your energy because they are so low in nutrition but high in calories that are hard on the gut to process.
4. Your Gut Has What it Needs to Work More Optimally During the Day
If you struggle with digestion, IBS, or gut health in general, it’s time to look at what food choices you’re giving your gut to work with. Some of us can’t eat as much fiber as others while some of us need more (which is most of us). Others need less sugar and more healthy fats and proteins. Others need to eat more fruits and veggies. Look at where you’re at right now and what you’re giving your body. Make small choices to include some improvements so your gut has what it needs to function better. A great option that is balanced nutritionally and diverse in probiotics, protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D is overnight oats soaked with kefir topped with blueberries, flax or chia seeds, and maybe sliced banana. This includes very little sweets and is easy to put together the night before! It’s also budget-friendly per serving and made up of everyday natural foods. Or, whip up a quick smoothie with our kefir, some frozen fruit, a handful of spinach, and a handful of oats, and blend with ice for a creamy, nutrient-dense breakfast that takes less than 5 minutes flat! No protein powder or fancy powders are required.
5. Assists With Feeling More Balanced and Digesting Food the Remainder of the Day
Finally, cultured foods just help you feel more balanced all day long. Your energy is better because your gut is processing and digesting foods more efficiently, and the probiotic cultures help reduce inflammation in the gut that causes pain and more issues. Bloating and gas may lessen over time. You may find your hunger hormone cues feel more natural. Maybe your mood is just better. Try to start adding one or two probiotic cultured foods to your day this week. See how you feel at the end of the week as a result!
What to Remember:
Everyone has personal health needs, and we fully support you here at Lifeway no matter what yours may be. If you ever have any questions, feel free to ask and reach out! It’s also important to remember, that you don’t have to add all of these at one time. Try one this week and one another. Your gut will let you know which ones it loves the most, whether’s that’s our dairy-free Lifeway Oat or our time-tested and loved Lifeway Kefir products, which we offer multiple options in. Both offer you the benefits of being a natural cultured food that you can easily work into your everyday lifestyle, no changes required on your part otherwise. It’s simple, so how will you get started? Here are some ideas to get you started!