Over the last 10 years, we've learned a lot about the gut, and the microflora that reside there.
From it's roll in immune health, to the magnitude of the microflora that colonize it, to it's connection to our brain, and how it works hand in hand with neurological health, the gut seems to be a key player in the fate of our overall wellness.
More specifically, it seems the microflora, aka the billions of bacteria, that live in our gut may be the orchestrators our health. Knowing the connection between the balance of bacteria in our gut and our vitality, it's important that we:
1) feed them well and 2) create an intestinal
environment where they can thrive.
Don't believe me, check out this quote from a paper in the European Journal of Nutrition,
"Any diet that is either selective or defective with respect to its nutrient content will cause the disruption of the delicate balance between the host and its intestinal microbiota, leading to diet-related dysbiosis."
So, how do we create a beneficial bacterial wonderland? Here is how.
Below are 6 TIPS TO FEED THE LITTLE FRIENDS THAT COLONIZE OUR COLONS:
[WARNING: Not for the fain of heart, bacteria-fertilization may result in Power Farts]
1. Eat MORE colorful vegetables.
WHY: Good bacteria are able to metabolize the antioxidant compound, polyphenol, in order to live. Meanwhile polyphenols prevent growth of "bad" bacteria
RESEARCH: "Some studies suggest that polyphenols can stimulate the growth of commensal and beneficial microbiota while pathogenic strains are inhibited" - You know what to do. Eat cabbage, onions, beets, carrots, squash, winter squash, tomatoes, kale, plantains, kohlrabi, lettuce, etc etc etc
2. Eat EVEN MORE plants; colored or not.
WHY: Vegetables, beans, berries, and fungi contain a few different types of fiber, with little sugar. Fiber provides food for bacteria to eat (via fermentation) and thrive off of. We can't digest fiber, bacteria can. Bacteria ferment fiber into small healthy fats for us to absorb. These fats are anti-inflammatory (like butyric acid); they nourish us, and the lining of our gut.
3. Cut out ALL OF THE SUGAR & GLUTEN (don't replace gluten with sugary gluten-free alternatives).
Stop eating sugar and processed foods. Sure they are easy, convent, and well packaged, but every time you eat them, your body becomes more and more stressed. Sugar and gluten cause inflammation by way of "oxidative stress" PLUS it cultivates an environment that encourages the "BAD-GUY-BATRIUM and YEASTS" to thrive. Too much sugar can disrupt the health of you gut for years to come. Candida overgrowth is a perfect example of this (see Candida Overgrowth & Nutrition-based Healing post TBA).Say goodbye to the baked goods, yogurts, fruit juices, huge fruit smoothie, chips, cookies, ice cream AND hello to a healthy gut (for real!).
4. More water. Drink more, drink more WATER!
Aim for a gallon. Let's keep it simple on this explanation: water keeps things a'moving!
5. Get excited about eating FERMENTED FOODS and TRADITIONAL FOODS
Add some fermented foods, they are natural bacteria gold mines -> pickled beets, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kefir water, etc etc (not the fake ones with just sugar and die.
Only the real fermented food will have NO added colors and will list the bacteria on the table.
Add bone broth, RAW milk (only raw milk, seriously, avoid dairy aside from raw milk and a high quality Whey Isolate), RAW milk or goat milk kefir, pasture butter, and organ meats (liver, sweet breads, heart, tongue, etc)
6. Eat vegetables RIGHT OUT OF THE SOIL!
This is the best - fresh grown vegetables pulled straight out of the ground or that come from your trusted farmer. Eating locally grown, fresh vegetables, squash, beans, fruit bolster our gut bacteria as we are exposed to the colonies of bacteria in the soil. I call it probiotics au natural !
BONUS TIP: play up the polyphenols - citrus, green tea, black tea, cacao, beets, cherries, turmeric, black pepper, other spices like rosemary, thyme, etc, blueberries, pistachios, wine, and coffee all contain powerful antioxidants (polyphenols)