Were you hoping for another letter about a diet, detox, or cleanse? I hope not, because I'd like to talk about something else that may be "weighing" you down. It's your gut, or what many scientists now refer to as our second brain. According to a Johns Hopkins expert, this “brain in your gut” is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think. Scientists call this brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum. Poor gut health has been linked to numerous health conditions including obesity, gastrointestinal discomfort, diabetes, allergies, autoimmunity, anxiety, depression, insomnia, heart disease, and eczema. So if you're looking to spring clean your health, a great place to start is with your gut!
To build a healthier gut, begin by taking a look at what you're eating. You'll want to focus on adding foods that feed the good bacteria and reduce inflammation, which is at the root of much disease.
Foods To Eat:
High Fiber Foods: Raw and cooked whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils), and ancient grains (quinoa, buckwheat, chia, amaranth). Your good gut bacteria feed on fiber. These are absorbed into the bloodstream and both regulate your immune system and decrease inflammation. Fiber is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and helps prevent constipation and digestive diseases.
Fermented foods: These are probiotic rich foods that add good bacteria to keep a healthy balance in your gut. They also protect against harmful bacteria and prevent you from experiencing chronic digestive disorders. Add foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, coconut yogurt, and pickles.
Prebiotic foods: Prebiotics act as a “gut fertilizer” to feed the probiotics in your system. They are high in special types of fiber, support digestive health, increase friendly bacteria in the gut, prevent certain diseases, and boost your immune system. Prebiotic foods include bananas, garlic, onion, asparagus, konjac root, apples, whole oats, seaweed, and flaxseeds.
Coconut oil: This medium-chain fatty acid contains both lauric and caprylic acid. They have natural antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties which help boost the immune system and regulate acidity in the gut. Coconut oil is also converted to energy in the body without producing insulin spikes in the bloodstream. "Diabetics and those with pre-diabetes conditions, should immediately realize the benefit of a fast-acting energy source that doesn't produce an insulin spike in your body. In fact, coconut oil added to the diets of diabetics and pre-diabetics has actually been shown to help stabilize weight gain, which can dramatically decrease your likelihood of getting adult onset type-2 diabetes".
Healthy fats: Healthy fats decrease inflammation and promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. These fats include grass-fed butter, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa content or higher): "Research has shown that eating dark chocolate may help promote gut health by selectively feeding beneficial bacteria, as opposed to harmful ones. It essentially acts as a probiotic, thereby promoting a healthier gut microbiome".
Chronic stress will also contribute to gut imbalance and inflammation that damages healthy cells. Exercise and meditation help to naturally reduce stress, strengthen the immune system, and lower inflammation.
Changing my diet and managing my stress levels has been instrumental in healing my gut issues and reversing my symptoms of Hashimoto's disease. Please realize, some individuals may experience food intolerance or sensitivities to those mentioned above. Not all foods work for everyone. It's important to listen to your body, it's always speaking to you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
To your health & happiness,