Nip Sickness in the Gut!
Nip Sickness in the Gut!
What Can Our Gut Tell Us About the Rest of Our Body?
“In the 21st century our taste buds, our brain chemistry, our biochemistry, our hormones and our kitchens have been hijacked by the food industry” – Mark Hyman
As I blogged about last week, we have created the vast majority of our illnesses and diseases through our unhealthy food and lifestyle choices. We have trained our taste buds to crave food that is not recognizable by our bodies as food, thereby putting us on high alert to fend off these food enemies that can harm us. Our endocrine systems, which regulate our metabolism, sleep, moods etc, are completely altered as a result of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides in the food we consume. The good news is that this damage can be undone, and we can take measures to start recouping our health.
Load Up On The Probiotic Troops
The first step to cracking the code on ill-health is to improve our microbiota (also known as our gut flora). Dietary fiber which is found in plants, feeds good bacteria. Plant fiber not broken down and absorbed by the body ends up feeding our gut bacteria. This equates to less food for us (think easier weight loss!), and more for our microbiome. To further this concept, we could even consider eating whole plants, including stems of broccoli and the fibrous ends of asparagus to encourage this process! When we don’t take in enough plant fiber, we starve the good gut bacteria. It then starts eating us instead, breaking down the protective lining of our intestines. When we consume enough of it, it nourishes the gut lining.
It’s also wise to incorporate more fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha into our dietary lifestyles. They are microbiome rockstars because they contain live bacteria, probiotics and prebiotic fiber to nourish gut bacteria. The same goes for sprouts. When grains or legumes are sprouted, the first stage of the digestive process is done for us before we even eat them. This is because the sprouting process converts our grains and legumes into enzymatic, probiotic-dense food sources. Our digestive systems, therefore, conserve energy when digesting these foods, leaving more energy for the healing and repairing of illness and disease.
What’s a Little Dirt?
Turns out, a lot! Choose food with dirt on it! Enzymatic activity and nutritional value of food start to decline immediately after harvesting. Therefore, the microbial value is significantly diminished by the time it has travelled thousands of miles and altered before it even reaches our plates. Buying local means that more nutrients and bacteria are intact when the food reaches your plate. Look for evidence of dirt on produce, not for perfection in terms of size and uniformity. Choosing organic fruit and vegetables grown with dirt instead of chemicals is therefore always the best way to go.
Moderate Meat Intake
Reducing meat portions is beneficial to the healing process. There are vast differences in gut bacteria between those with higher intakes of meat than those who consume little to none. Allergies, obesity, and cardiovascular disease are only a few of the health issues which are more prevalent where meat consumption is higher and vegetable intake is lower. Be careful on relying on a diet that is high in animal protein and extremely low in carbohydrate. Extremely low-carb diets can lead to a poor microbiome, due to the subsequent lack of dietary fiber, which we need.
As a rule, it’s better to think of meat as a condiment, rather than the main component of the meal. However, the wilder, more free-roaming and grass fed the animal, the higher their meat and other by-products are in inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids, and the lower they are in saturated fat. It’s also critical to choose meat from animals raised without antibiotics, as antibiotics produce even more bad bacteria.
Inclusion, Rather Than Deprivation
Stop focusing on what’s “not allowed”. Instead, focus on adding good foods in and crowding out the more destructive options. This way, it becomes more of an inclusive approach rather than a restrictive one. Focus on making healthy additions, rather than on the not so healthy foods we have to eliminate. The open, inclusive mindset gives us the control over our food choices that we seem to have lost to the food industry in recent years.
It’s empowering to regain control and to know we can still enjoy a certain amount of the less nutritious options. It’s amazing how easy it’s done without tipping us over the edge! Enjoy the chocolate fondant, knowing that your next meal will be a kale and quinoa salad (after your morning jog)! Balance out the not so healthy options with the microbiome-friendly ones. And never ever forget that eating is a pleasure, not a chore or a science!