Influencers…..Food

What and how do 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 that certain foods nourish and repair the gut? More on this concept later.

It is also not only what we eat but also how we eat it. 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 or reason. In university, we studied “food as medicine,” which is how powerful food 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 and increase stomach acid and digestive enzymes, all of which are essential to optimal digestion and gut health.

 

1. Fermented Foods: We’ve all heard about them, so are they all they are cracked up to be? 

Yes, Yes, Yes. 

  • The role of fermentation allows foods to become more nutritionally dense 
  • It makes food easier to digest as it starts the breakdown process for you, shouldering some of the burdens. Amazingly, 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 shown those who regularly consume fermented foods have greater numbers of good bacteria, especially lactobacillus, in their guts. Therefore promoting healthier 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 Yoghurt or Coconut Yoghurt: homemade or shop-bought, is fine; just make sure you check the ingredients. It is best to buy plain or natural flavour and add your 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 yoghurt, which can be added to breakfast, in smoothies, etc. Water kefir, which is again a fizzy-style drink,

2. Watch your Fluids: increase the water and 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 and 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 is also 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 or 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, 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 good bacteria, are powerful antioxidants, increase immune system tolerance, and so much more. It 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. Your gut health must thrive; it is literally what feeds all your good bacteria, and as they digest the fiber, they release what enhances our health. 

Take Charge: So instead of trying to “cook with 4 ingredients,” cook with as many as you can, as the more diverse the fibers, 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 for 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.
  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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, they make a huge difference!

 

Love Alissa ❤