By DAVE MASON
NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
Good digestion starts in your brain.
That’s according to Vibeke Weiland, a certified nutritional therapy practitioner.
“Digestion actually begins in your brain, and I think the biggest mistake we make, particularly in this American culture, is we’re all moving too fast,” Ms. Weiland told the News-Press. “If you’re overstressed, your body is not sending its resources to its digestive tract.”
She and Randi Miller, a certified health coach in integrative nutrition, are advising people to slow down and not be in a “fight or flight” mode. They want people to think about how and what they’re eating because digestion is important.
They will discuss the “Digestion Connection: How Digestion Impacts States of Health and Disease” at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Central Library’s Faulkner Gallery, 40 E. Anapamu St.
The program is part of the Food as Medicine Series, which is presented by the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. Those attending will sample tastings of Italian wedding soup, mushroom soup, winter citrus salad, vegan-stuffed mushrooms and fermented foods. They also will enjoy local wines and probiotic beverages and receive recipes for gut-friendly foods.
The Feb. 19 talk will emphasize the importance of good digestive health, which the experts noted helps people with everything from skin conditions to joint pain, fatigue and “brain fog.”
During a News-Press interview at Ms. Miller’s home in Montecito, the experts noted that bitter foods such as beets, grapefruits and lemons have sweet results for your health.
“Squeezing some lemon juice into water before you eat can help break down your proteins and help you get more out of your food,” said Ms. Miller, who earned her certification in 2017 with the New York City-based Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Ms. Weiland said beets and beet greens top her list for foods that can help the liver.
The experts said one goal of a good diet is to help the gut microbiome.
“We have a very large population of microbes in our large intestine. They perform a lot of functions that keep us healthy,” said Ms. Weiland, a Santa Barbara resident who earned her certification in 2014 in San Diego with the Nutritional Therapy Association and the National Association of Nutritional Professionals. She recently retired from Santa Barbara Wellness for Life.
She and Ms. Miller recommend a diet with a diversity of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and proteins from grass-fed, pasture-raised cattle and chickens, as well as wild game.
They noted the benefits of bone broth and non-laxative herbal teas such as chamomile.
Ms. Weiland said pickles can help you if you buy the right ones.
“You can buy standard pickles on grocery shelves, but those have been pasteurized and can no longer have viable organisms in them,” she said.
“You also can find pickles in the refrigerated section,” Ms. Weiland said. “Those are the ones that have viable microbes in them that did the fermentation. That’s a way to get probiotics that are not in a pill.”
The experts said other healthy foods vary from fresh sauerkraut to avocados. The latter is full of healthy fats that contribute to good digestive health, and Ms. Miller said other sources of those fats include nuts and coconut and olive oils.
“The best thing you can do is to stop buying processed foods,” Ms. Miller said. “Buy whole foods.
“When you eat them and prepare them the way your grandmother did, be grateful, chew them and let your body digest them,” she said.
Boiling causes nutrients to leach from vegetables, Ms. Weiland noted, but added previous generations were more careful. “If you cook like our grandmothers used to, you would never throw the water away. You would save it and make soup from that water. So the nutrients would not get lost in the long term.”
Ms. Weiland and Ms. Miller also suggest people get their meat from animals raised in a healthy way with no antibiotics.
“You don’t want fats from a sick animal. Toxins are stored in fats,” Ms. Miller said.
“When we say a ‘healthy animal,’ we’re saying grass-fed, pasture-raised (cattle and chickens), out in the field eating what they’re biologically meant to be eating,” she said.
Chickens in a pasture are eating insects, which makes their egg yolks darker and more nutritious, Ms. Weiland said.
Ms. Miller said people’s dinner plate should be 80 percent plant matter and suggested cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, arugula, radishes, broccoli and cauliflower.
She recommended a diversity of vegetables to get more prebiotics for your digestive system.
The more colors, the better, Ms. Miller said.
“Beets are red, lemons are yellow, artichokes are green. We’re always talking about eating the rainbow.”