Written by: Melanie Darbyshire
It’s two weeks into the New Year, and hopefully it’s been a healthy one. For those who made resolutions, sticking to them may, it turns out, be a rewarding life change. For others, resolutions have turned out to be bothersome, near-impossible challenges that will never be met. Some may have given up already. As discussed in the last post, getting the help of others can make all the difference.
Whether you’ve stuck to your resolution (if you even made one) or not, there is one thing everyone should concern themselves with when it comes to their health, regardless of the time of year: their gut.
First, a lesson in anatomy. By “gut” we mean gastrointestinal tract – the long tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the “back passage” (the anus). In addition to the two body parts just mentioned, it includes the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, appendix, colon and rectum. The job of the gut is to process food, from the moment it is eaten to when it is either absorbed by the body or passed out.
The gut contains bacteria, both beneficial and harmful. A ratio of approximately 85 per cent good to 15 per cent bad bacteria is what most experts recommend for good health. When this ratio gets out of balance, you guessed it, problems arise.
Another often overlooked critical function of the gut is that it contains 80 per cent of your entire immune system. Yes, you read that correctly, 80 per cent.
When you understand all of this then, it makes sense that many health issues (including more than 40 disease) are linked to bacterial imbalance in the gut. These include thyroid imbalances, depression (good gut bacteria creates serotonin), IBS, chronic fatigue, joint pain, arthritis, psoriasis, autism and cancer.
Basically, gut health is REALLY IMPORTANT!
So how can you maintain and/or improve the health of your gut? By maintaining the proper mix of bacteria in it of course! Jenn Hruby, Made Foods’ Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant, advocates consuming probiotics as a means to do this. The best way to get these, she says, is to eat a lot of fermented, sour foods: “Fermented foods contain probiotics – good bacteria you need to boost your digestive health and increase your immunity. They also help with bloating and cravings.” In addition to probiotics, fermented foods contain certain types of acids which help the body support the growth of probiotics.
Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchi (a traditional fermented Korean side dish of vegetables and seasonings) are great fermented food options. They can typically be found in the cooler of the health aisle at your local grocery store or at the health food store. Another easy, inexpensive item to consume is apple cider vinegar.
“Add sauerkraut to your breakfast! Eggs, avocado, tomatoes and kraut is a great, healthy option.” She also suggests sipping on Kombucha (fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea) and adding kimchi or sauerkraut to your salad. “These can even be used as a salad dressing,” she says. Apple cider vinegar can also be used in salad dressings or can be added by tablespoonful to your beverage of choice.
Another easy option: Made Foods’ kimchi (containing cabbage, carrots, onions, chill powder, garlic, ginger and fish sauce) which, for just $5.00, gives you a powerful dose of probiotics in one, delicious snack.
Other probiotic-rich foods to eat include organic probiotic yogurt, goat milk yogurt and kefir. Made Foods’ Water Kefir and Acai Bowl (containing probiotic-rich Made. strawberry banana yogurt) are easy and delicious sources.
“Avoid processed foods, unrefined sugar and chlorinated water,” says Hruby, “because they wipe out the good bacteria in your gut.”
A bonus from loading up on your probiotics: weight loss. “When you have enzymes to digest your food, you are actually assimilating nutrients that help avoid cravings and over-eating,” explains Hruby. “Probiotics actually help to keep your stomach flat!”
So even if you aren’t sticking to your resolution as well as you’d planned (or even if your are), make your digestive health a priority. It requires no sacrifice or major effort; only a few smart choices about what you put in your gut. The payoff, however, is huge.