A healthy gut is a happy gut. And a happy gut means a healthy YOU! Seriously though, why should you even be concerned about gut health and does it really impact you?
In the studying and learning I’ve been doing, I’m going to say gut health is extremely important for so many overall health reasons, and a healthy metabolism. You know, that process that helps regulate weight.
What exactly is the gut microbiome?
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a microbiome is “the collection of all microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and their genes, that naturally live on our bodies and inside us…they contribute to human health…” The microorganisms reside in a particular environment. In this case, it’s your gut. Can you believe your gut has it’s own microbiome? How cool is that?
The gut microbiome is the place where food is digested, metabolized, and absorbed. It includes the stomach, small and large intestine, colon, pancreas, gallbladder and liver. Billions of live bacteria, over 35,000 different strains, make your gut their home.
The health of your gut directly correlates with your overall health and well-being.
A Healthy Gut means:
- Healthy Immune System to ward off the bad bacteria and viruses that make us sick
- Regulates metabolism for weight management
- Decreased inflammation
- Regulation of mood through serotonin production
An Unhealthy Gut::
- Implicated in several conditions such as gastrointestinal disorder, cardiovascular disease, Irritible bowel syndrome, allergies, metabolic syndrome, etc.
- Linked to anxiety and depression
- Linked to obesity
- Plays a roles in chronic illnesses such as diabetes and some cancers
- Increased inflammation (too much inflammation causes weight gain)
What affects the gut microbiome?
How you were brought into this world.
Babies delivered vaginally have a more diverse gut microbiome than those delivered via C-section, because they are exposed to different bacteria travelling through the birth canal.
Diet during infancy
Breastfeeding is an important role in helping to establish healthy bacteria through the probiotic bifidobacterium in the gut, during early stages of infancy.
Diet during adulthood
The early humans ate foods which were preserved through fermentation and having been cultured with healthy bacteria. Today, the majority of our food is processed or refined. We just aren’t getting those probiotics or the healthy bacteria we need to maintain a healthy gut. Read on to learn 5 foods that improve gut health in as little as 14 days.
Antibiotics are great for killing bacteria when we’re sick. The issue is, they kill both the good and bad bacteria. After going through a round of antibiotics, it’s best to spend the next 3 to 4 weeks restoring your gut health to get that good bacteria back.
Healthy Gut Equals Healthy Life
The Gut Lining is the glue that connects the cells that line the walls of the intestines. This is the protective layer between the body and the digestive system to prevent harmfully potentially substances from entering the body. This can be from chemicals and metals from the surrounding environment or processed foods which the body considers foreign.
When the gut lining is destroyed we see Leaky Gut Syndrome. The destruction of the lining produces spaces that allow large pieces of food, microbes, and toxins into your body. This causes poor digestion, a weak immune system, and chronic inflammation.
To help heal the lining and promote a healthy gut environment, there are certain foods and supplements to assist!
Fermented and Cultured Foods are ones in which good bacteria and yeast are used to preserve foods rather than harmful chemicals and substances.
This is how the early humans used to do it. Food processing as we know it today dates back to the early 1900s, espeically during the world wars when frozen and canned foods were popular.
Probiotics are usually bacteria, sometimes yeast, that live in our digestive system, inside our lungs, and on our skin. They help regulate metabolism, lactose digestion, cancer protection, nutrient utilization, detox, make vitamins, and regulate the immune system. This is what the majority of us are missing from our diets today.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the two most common probiotics that are known to provide significant health benefits. There are multiple strains under each one.
Saccharomyces Boulardii is a yeast that is know to help with diarhhea.
Prebiotics can be thought of as a food source for those probiotic live bacteria. this is where fiber comes into play, undigestible carbs. They are found in many fruits, vegetable and whole grains.
I say the above to say this. If you value your health, you want a healthy gut. Here are my top 5 foods that help improve gut health.
1. Greek Yogurt
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, I think alot of us know yogurt has live bacteria in it, but not all yogurt is created equally. You can get Greek or Plain yougurt. Greek is strained, meaning thicker and creamier, and has less lactose (the sugar often found in dairy products).
Bacteria is added to milk during the fermentation process in which lactose, the main sugar in milk, is converted to lactic acid. That gives it the tart and sour taste.
If the label says “heat-treated after culturing,” it has been further processed with heat which has killed the bacteria. There is no probiotic benefit here. However, yogurts that have a label “live and active cultures,” will contain at least 100 million cultures per gram, at least at the time of manufacture.
I do suggest plain yogurt to avoid all the added sugars.
Greek Yogurt has become a favorite snack of mine. I like to add either grapes or almonds for a delicious afternoon treat!
A highly popular addition that dates back 8,000 years ago, olives are rich in lactobacillus. It’s one of the oldest vegetable fermented foods.
Again though, as with yogurt, not all olives are equal. Black olives in a can are picked when green and cured with lye and artificially blackened.
For the full health benefit stay if you see any of the below ingredients listed, stay away. They have through a rapid fermentation process and use synthetic additives for preservation.
- Lactic acid
- Acetic or citric acid
Natural curing of the olive occurs ocer the course of several months. The rapid curing process often kills the bacteria.
For full health benefit go for whole green or black olives.
I’m not sure if Sourdough bread really belongs on this list, but I’m including it anyway. Maybe it’s because of my own selfish love and addiction and I want to secretly make myself feel better about eating an entire load a few weeks ago. Or maybe you’ll see the health benefits actually do make sense.
if you’re familiar at all with making sourdough bread, you know it requires a culture or a starter. This includes yeast and a bacteria, typically lactobacilli and it’s through the fermentation of this culture that this wonderful bread is created.
Here’s the deal though, the probiotics are killed during the cooking phase. Heat kills bacteria.
But….while you won’t be reaping the benefits of a probiotic there are numerous other gut health benefits!
Sourdough bread is still the way to go, if you can’t give up bread. I can’t. The lactic acid breaks down phytic acid, which often prevents nutrient absorption in other bread types, Enhancing the bioavailability of nutrients. The fermentation process breaks down gluten, which causes bloating and gas and digestive problems in many individuals. The flavor profile is also increased. That’s why sourdough bread has that tangy taste to it, no preservatives necessary! So, if you’re anything like me and love your bread, this is the way to go!
The main issue though is the flour that’s used. Typically, white flour is used, which is a refined grain, all the nutrients have been stripped. For super health benefits, use a rye or wheat flour!
If you are wanting to maintain a healthy gut environment, it’s recommended to get some probiotic rich foods in your daily diet and you can take a supplement for extra support.
The more strains and CFUs (colony forming units) the better.
I personally take Spring Valley Extra Strength Probiotic. It has 10 billion CFU and 10 different strains made up of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria!
Want to restore your gut health in 14 days?
Now that you have learned some more information on the importance and value of maintaining the health of your gut, how it affects your overall health and well being, and how you can go about restoring your gut health, are you ready for the challenge?
Start implementing this into your everyday diet! Even if all you end up doing is eating a small cup of yogurt a day and working your way to a supplement, the live bacteria will do nothing but help you! They will help keep inflammation levels low, help you manage your weight, and help you fight off the bad bacteria and viruses that make you ill.
You can see improvement in as little as 14 days with this small change. You may feel better overall!
I have put together a mini recipe for you to easily and quickly ferment your own foods!
What are you waiting for? Download below and let me know what you think.