Gut Health is Essential

As mentioned in a previous post, What Are the Best Foods for the Gut?, we more than ever need to eat foods that are beneficial to the gut. Our gut microbiome (supported by probiotics – “the good bacteria”), is essential for a great number of biological functions like metabolic function, hormone function, the gut-brain axis, mood changes, etc. Removing the foods that do not sustain gut health (such as refined flour, sugar, and industrial seed oils) is the first step. But we also want to consume on a daily basis (preferably) foods that are beneficial to the gut. Such foods include bone broth, raw cultured dairy, fermented foods, coconut products, sprouted seeds, healthy fats, and fruits (and vegetables).

7 Amazing Foods for the Gut

  • Bone Broth: it offers collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that are beneficial to the gut. 
  • Raw Cultured Dairy: it has good bacteria when fermented and short-chain fatty acids beneficial to the gut. Pastured kefir, yogurt, amasai, butter, and raw cheese are some of the best picks.
  • Fermented Foods: just like fermented dairy, fermented vegetables are awesome probiotic foods. They have organic acids that balance intestinal pH and probiotics helping with gut health. Sauerkraut, kimchi and kvass are great options.
  • Coconut Products; they are particularly good for the gut because the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut are usually easier to digest (for most people) than other fats –  a great choice for sustaining digestive health. Also, coconut kefir offers microbes beneficial to the digestive system.
  • Sprouted Seeds: sprouted chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds are good sources of fiber that can foster the growth of beneficial bacteria. 
  • Healthy Fats:  healthy fats like egg yolks, avocados, ghee, and coconut oil are easy on the gut and contribute to nutrient absorption. Some protein foods like grass-fed beef, lamb, and wild-caught salmon also have healthy omega-3 fats.
  • Fruit: eating fruit in moderation (one or two servings/day) is an easy way to get vitamins and minerals. You can make homemade apple sauce or fruit sauce with pears or other low-glycemic fruits.

In Summary

Feeding the good bacteria in your gut by selecting the right foods that work well for you is very important. And as you can see, choices abound, so eating healthy doesn’t have to be dull in any way. Having to watch my blood sugar, I consume healthy fats every day and prefer getting my fiber from vegetables than the traditional fruits. See how your body responds to foods. Maintaining your health and wellness over the years is priceless.

Until next time!

References

Axe, Josh. “Leaky Gut Diet and Treatment Plan, Including Top Gut Foods.” Dr. Axe, 7 Jan. 2021, draxe.com/health/leaky-gut-diet-treatment/. Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

Huberman, Andrew. “Control Pain & Heal Faster with Your Brain | Huberman Lab Podcast #9.” YouTube, 1 Mar. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcPSRWUYCv0. Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

You can also find me on Instagram.

The Gut Microbiome

The gut has trillions of microorganisms from three hundred up to a thousand different species (it varies from person to person). In Your Personal Paleo Code, Chris Kresser adds that “those microbes have one hundred times more genes than the human genome does.” Stanford microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg concluded: “Humans can be regarded as elaborate vessels evolved to permit the survival and propagation of microorganisms.” We are clearly more bacteria than human!

The gut microbiota (or gut flora) helps with normal gastrointestinal function and with protecting us from infections. Indeed, it is home to most of our immune cells and it helps regulate metabolism. Knowing that the gut microbiota is critical to our overall health and wellness, it is important to stay away from things that can disrupt it.

13 Ways to Help Protect Your Gut Microbiome

The following strategies are mentioned in Young and Slim for Life, by Dr. Frank Lipman:

  • Avoid GMOs whenever possible – we simply don’t know enough about them.
  • Keep away from sweet and starchy foods.
  • Avoid junk food and processed food, as most have trans fats, GMO corn, GMO soy, or industrial seed oils.
  • Keep away from gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and some other grains, as well as in soy sauce, seitan, beer, and a lot of packaged and processed foods.
  • Steer clear of preservatives and artificial ingredients.
  • Keep away from conventionally farmed meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs as they likely contain antibiotics and hormones, and as they likely have been fed on GMO corn or soy.
  • Whenever possible, avoid antibiotics, (NSAIDs, and other medications).
  • Steer clear of artificial sweeteners.
  • Drink filtered water. You can add water filters to your home taps, for instance. Also, there is the Aqua Tru countertop water purifier that I like to use.
  • Consume fermented foods – kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, or other fermented vegetables. Fermented foods offer natural bacteria that help protect your gut microbiota.
  • Consume prebiotics: foods that have the fiber on which friendly bacteria feed (like garlic, onions, radishes, leeks, asparagus, and Jerusalem artichokes).
  • Find efficient ways to deal with stress.
  • Get sufficient sleep.

In Summary

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Many things can influence gut health, so we want to do our best to put into practice as many of the above strategies as possible, as a start. By choosing to eat a paleo/primal diet over 6 years ago, I got to eliminate the unwanted or suspect foods that can easily disrupt the gut microbiome. And as mentioned in My Paleo/Primal Eating Habits, I do not contemplate, even for a minute, going back to eating foods that are not beneficial to my health and wellness. 

Until next time!

References

Kresser, Chris. Your Personal Paleo Code: The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life. 1st ed., New York, NY, Little, Brown and Company, Dec. 2013, pp. 162-66.

Lipman, Frank. Young and Slim for Life : 10 Essential Steps to Achieve Total Vitality and Kick-Start Weight Loss That Lasts. Carlsbad, California, Hay House, Inc, 2016, pp. 33–42.

Mailing, Lucy, and PhD. “The Ultimate Quick-Start Guide to the Gut Microbiome.” Lucy Mailing, PhD, 11 Feb. 2020, http://www.lucymailing.com/the-ultimate-quick-start-guide-to-the-gut-microbiome/. Accessed 3 Sept. 2020.

You can also find me on Instagram.

The Best Foods for the Gut

More than ever do we need to eat foods that are beneficial to the gut. Removing the foods that do not sustain gut health (such as refined flour, sugar, and industrial seed oils) is the first step. But we also want to consume on a daily basis (preferably) foods that are beneficial to the gut. Such foods include bone broth, fermentable fibers, and fermented foods. As explained in The Wild Diet, by Abel James, in your gut resides a great number of bacteria that have an extremely important role in the following:

  • Predigesting your food
  • Providing immune protection
  • Releasing neurotransmitters that affect your behavior and your mood 

Feeding the good bacteria in your gut by selecting the right foods that work for you is very important. 

Bone Broth

As stated in a previous post, bone broth has been used for thousands of years as a healing beverage by traditional cultures. A South American saying declares that “bone broth raises the dead.” All you have to do when making bone broth is add the bones (joint bones with the cartilage and marrow bones) of a well-sourced cow, chicken, pig, lamb, fish, etc. to a pot of water. Add a tablespoon or so of vinegar “to help release the minerals from the bones” and let simmer for several hours up to 24 or even 48 hours. You can add some vegetables too. I usually add some onion, garlic, carrots, various herbs, salt, and pepper. And that’s it! Your broth, full of nutrients, is ready to enjoy day after day.

Fermentable Fibers

Two sources of fermentable fiber are soluble fibers and resistant starch. 

  • Soluble fiber (mentioned in my previous post regarding avocados) can be found in fruits, vegetables, starches, nuts, and seeds. Soluble fiber is a food source that the good bacteria in your gut ferment and make short-chain fatty acids with. Vegetables like yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, beets, winter and summer squash, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, plantains, taro root, and yuca have more soluble fiber than other vegetables, so they are more soothing to the gut. 
  • Resistant starch, as explained at draxe.com, “is a type of starch that isn’t completely broken down and absorbed in the stomach or small intestine. Instead, it passes through to the colon and is converted into short-chain fatty acids, which act as prebiotics to help feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Because it’s processed and metabolized in a similar way as dietary fiber, it also boasts a similar set of health benefits.” You can obtain resistant starch with cooked and then cooled potatoes, green bananas or green plantains, for instance. You can also buy raw, unmodified, gluten-free potato starch and blend it in a smoothie or a dish, for example.

Fermented Foods

As mentioned in my post, What We Can Learn from World Cuisines, if you ferment certain foods, you increase the nutritional quality of these foods. With fermented foods, you’ll get a variety of good bacteria for the gut. As stated in Your Personal Paleo Code, you can consume:

  • Raw (unpasteurized) sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles (examples of fermented vegetables)
  • Yogurt and kefir (examples of fermented dairy)
  • Beet kvass, kombucha, and water kefir (examples of fermented beverages)

This month, I have started making the “DIY Antiaging Yogurt.” You can find the recipe in Boundless, by Ben Greenfield. This recipe is originally from cardiologist Dr. William Davis, whose blog is at wheatbellyblog.com This “L. reuteri yogurt” is fairly easy to make on a regular basis, and definitively worth checking out!

In Summary

Consuming foods that are beneficial to the gut sustains gut health and is a sure way to make us discover new recipes. Bone broth, fermentable fibers, and fermented foods are wonderful options to rediscover the pleasures of home cooking. And renewing our interest in time-tested traditional methods of cooking is probably the best thing we can do for optimal wellness!

Until next time!

References

Greenfield, Ben. Boundless : Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body & Defy Aging. Las Vegas, Victory Belt Publishing Inc, 2020, pp. 364-365.

James, Abel. The Wild Diet:  Go Beyond Paleo to Burn Fat, Beat Cravings, and Drop 20 Pounds in 40 Days. New York, Penguin Random House, 19 Jan. 2016, pp. 53–55, 337–338.

Kresser, Chris. Your Personal Paleo Code: The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life. 1st ed., New York, NY, Little, Brown and Company, Dec. 2013, pp. 172-177.

Link, Rachael. “Resistant Starch Foods That Support Blood Sugar & Weight Maintenance.” Dr. Axe, 12 July 2018, draxe.com/nutrition/resistant-starch/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2020.

You can also find me on Instagram.