What and how we eat.
Of course, we know that what we eat is going to influence our gut, but did you know that specific foods can cause damage to the gut and certain foods nourish and repair the gut? More on this concept later.
It is also not only what we eat but how we eat it. By using the “Rest and Digest” way of eating, allows the body to relax and focus on the task at hand, digesting food properly and absorbing more nutrients from the food. Eating on the run and eating while we are stressed causes a host of issues in the digestive system. More on this in a moment.
So therapeutic foods mean food that is used for a specific purpose/reason, in uni we studied “food as medicine”, which is how powerful food really is.
You can take a powder or pop a pill but it will never overpower the choices of your diet.
These are dietary secret weapons that enhance gut bacteria, increase stomach acid and digestive enzymes all essential to optimal digestion and gut health.
1. Fermented Foods: We’ve all heard about them so are they really all they are cracked up to be?
Yes, Yes, Yes.
- The role of fermentation allows foods to become more nutritionally dense
- Makes food easier to digest as it starts the process of breakdown for you, shouldering some of the burdens. Amazingly because it uses enzymes to start the breakdown instead of heat which causes a loss of nutrients.
- Rich in number and also diversity of good bacteria. Studies have actually shown those who regularly consume fermented foods have greater numbers of good bacteria especially lactobacillus in their guts. Therefore having stronger immune systems.
Note: if buying store-bought products make sure to check the labels as many have been pasteurized (which kills a large amount of the beneficial bacteria), or have added sugars and artificial flavours.
Take Charge: (all these are available at your supermarket or health food stores, or can be pretty easy to make at home… recipes to come!)
- Natural Yogurt or Coconut Yogurt: homemade or shop-bought is fine just make sure you check the ingredients, best to buy plain/ natural flavour and add your own flavouring.
- Sauerkraut: Fermented vegetables, usually cabbage. Great for salads, sandwiches or on cracker platters.
- Kombucha: refreshing, fizzy drink.
- Kefir: Two types, milk kefir which is like a runny yogurt which one again can be added to breakfast, in smoothies etc. Water kefir which is again, a fizzy style drink.
2. Watch your Fluids: Increase the water, decrease the caffeine and alcohol. Oftentimes water is a major contributor to constipation and sluggish digestion. Alcohol on the other hand has been shown to reduce beneficial bacteria, cause leaky gut and inflammation in the gut. We know coffee is a stimulant, did you know it also stimulates the bowels. This is not great as food moving too fast through the gut means fewer nutrients are being absorbed and also is often linked to IBS type symptoms.
Take Charge: It’s hard to make hard and fast rules about how much alcohol or caffeine you should/ shouldn’t drink. The best thing you can do is TAKE NOTE of what your body feels like after coffee or alcohol and if symptoms occur then stop there. A little bit of a rule of thumb is no more than 1-2 coffees a day
3. Mum’s Stewed Apples: My favourite! They reduce inflammation in the gut, feed the good bacteria, powerful antioxidants, increase immune system tolerance and so much more. Also tastes delicious! I make a batch, keep them in a jar in the fridge and have them on breaky or with yogurt for a snack.
4. Fibre, Fibre, Fibre: cannot express how important this is, and how much more we should be getting ALL THE TIME. It is critical for your gut health to thrive, it is literally what feeds all your good bacteria and as they digest the fibre they release what enhances our health.
Take Charge: So instead of trying to “cook with 4 ingredients”, instead cook with as many as you can as the more diverse the fibres, the more diverse the microbes. Win!
5. Ditch the fake stuff: Our bodies have enzymes in them that break down real foods but our bodies do not have enzymes to break down artificial things the body cannot recognise. These are major causes of inflammation in the gut lining.
6. Reduce known triggers: Although many people have food intolerances and sensitivities to many foods, gluten, and dairy-containing foods are known to cause problems with those suffering from gut issues. I will go into this in much more detail later, but I am not saying that everyone needs to go completely dairy and gluten-free but if they are not sitting right with you or you are working on your gut then it is a good idea to reduce these inflammatory foods.
How we eat.
- Stop eating on the run: eating on the run means that our bodies are in a state of “fight or flight”, in this state digestion is shut down and the main aim of the body is to supply blood to the extremities so that you can run away. Think about it, back in the caveman years they were not trying to eat their dinner while running for their lives.
- Put the phone down and turn off the news: with so many distractions while we are trying to eat our body is in a state of stress, therefore it is not focusing on the job at hand, digesting properly.
- Chew, a lot! Many of us don’t chew enough, try putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls to give yourself time to properly chew your food until you can’t chew anymore.
- Give your body a break: it’s a good idea to allow time (preferably 3 hours) between meals and snacks to allow your body to properly digest, restore stomach acid and prepare for the next meal.
Give these tips a go, trust me it makes a huge difference!
Love Alissa ❤
**Always read the label. Follow the Directions for Use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. This medicine may not be right for you. Read the warnings before purchase.**