Written by Talisha Kendell (Author Tummy Buggies, founder littlemashies.com)
It is widely accepted now that we have more genes from gut bacteria than we do human genes. What does this mean for the everyday normal person? Well, research is starting to uncover only the tip of the iceberg and it’s already showing that gut bacteria plays a significant role in our health and in our modern day diseases. But what does this actually mean? It means we need to look after our digestive health in the same capacity, as we need to look after our physical or mental health.
Listen to your gut:
We now know more than ever before that digestive health is important for both physical health and mental health. Make it common practice in your household to take note of when your digestive system isn’t feeling too well. Don’t just shrug it off, listen, and pay attention! Our bodies are very good at showing us when something doesn’t sit well with us. We might get reflux, or gas, stomach pains or a bloated belly. All these things are an indication that something is not quite right. Pay attention and experiment with trying to find the culprit that is causing the undesirable digestive system symptoms. Work with an integrative doctor if needed to uncover what your symptoms mean.
Start increasing fresh plant based foods:
Making changes to ones diet can be a long drawn out process. Do yourself and your family a favour by starting that process today. It doesn’t matter if you have digestive symptoms or not eating a greater amount of fresh, living plant foods that have grown in the earth will benefit everyone. Start with simple additions to your usual diet, that way you wont feel as though you are missing out. Adding a salad to every dinner-time meal is a very easy way to start. Once you have nailed that try and bring in a bowl of green vegetables with your lunch-time meal. If that’s too hard because you are at the office or out and about with kids then have greens for breakfast! One of my favourite go-to dishes is water fried green veges with scrambled eggs on top. It is absolutely delicious and even the fussiest of eaters love this when they come to my house.
Add in some fermented foods:
There are so many fantastic products available now at farmers markets or health food stores that have real living good bacteria in them; there really is no excuse to start experimenting with finding ones you like. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kim chi are packed with nutrients, enzymes and probiotics. Milk Kefir, kombucha and water kefir are a great probiotic alternatives to a regular smoothie, juice or soda. Start with just a tiny bit a day and work your way up to more. You can even buy ice cream now that is laced with probiotic rich kefir. Or make your own with this simple recipe.
Beneficial bacteria are all around us and being outdoors, in nature is a proven way to both make you feel good AND get exposed to more microbes. They say diversity is the key when it comes to gut bacteria and good health so getting exposure to the great outdoors can only do good. More than that, being outside can help alleviate stress, which is a big player in killing off your good bacteria. So exercise, enjoy the sunshine, dig in the garden or play with pets. Any of these activities are an easy way to start promoting good digestive health.
Get on board with bone broth:
One of the best ways to help seal and nourish the gut is through bone broth based soups. Whether you are a big meat eater or not using real (not packaged) bone broth soup is an easy way to get essential amino acids, minerals and cartilage compounds – all which help the gut at the cell wall level. You don’t have to sip on soup in a cup; you can easily add bone broth to your stews, rice dishes, pasta, and vegetables. Just use it instead of using water when you cook. To make it easy, buy (or make) the broth and immediately freeze it in small portions to use daily with each meal. To begin with I used ice-cube tray portion sizes until I was used to the flavour and now I’ve increased to snack bag size portions with every cooked meal. Some people even put a couple of broth cubes in their morning smoothies (you might want to try it the normal way first)!
Nurturing our digestive system is something we can all do in our own homes and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Everyone can start with these 5 basic changes that are both easy to implement and proven to have a substantial impact on overall gut health.