Why your gut is the foundation of good health
Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad per inceptos hamenaeos.
Look after your friendly flora and in turn, they will look after you.
Bloating, flatulence, indigestion, acid reflux, are all too common, it’s no laughing matter for the sufferer. Your digestive system is worth focusing on at any time in your life. Much of the immune system resides in the gut, and therefore The gut microbiome is our first line of defence. Especially in the Winter when defences are low, as our access to Vitamin D is also limited, you can boost your gut with probiotics, prebiotics and fermented foods. If you have a compromised digestion (as many of us do) due to a poor diet, over use of antibiotics without repopulating, then, you definitely need to give your gut some attention.
Besides supporting the immune system, the effectiveness of metabolism is compromised and with low gut flora the body struggles to decide wether to use food for energy or store as fat. Studies now show a strong link between low gut flora, obesity and diabetes. The gut also makes important chemicals for the brain which is why it is sometimes referred to as the ‘second brain’.
Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons connecting to the enteric nervous system which acts independently from the central nervous system whilst being in regular communication.
Our brain and gut are connected by a large network of neurons and chemicals and hormones that provide constant feedback about how hungry or stressed we are, or if we have ingested a foreign body that is disease causing.
Serotonin, an important mood modulating neurotransmitter is made in the digestive tract and the brain.
Microbes along with host cells, help to make gut serotonin which is important for mood, but research also suggests that the activity of the digestive system may effect cognition ( thinking skills and memory too ). This is something that is ongoing in research.
There are various protocols for compromised gut health, Dr Natasha Campbell MCBride has the wonderful GAPs diet and the NHS has FODMAP. Be aware that in the health industry there are many approaches and points of view. Tuning into your own body wisdom, and trying a few approaches gives you the option to tune in your own body wisdom and find out what really works for you. Here on this website I’m offering up my point of view based on research and personal experience. Give it a try, things can only improve from taking the stress of challenging foods out of the body
Otherwise known as friendly bacteria or good gut flora, this is a colony of healthy bacteria we are born with that reside in the gut which support the immune system and the assimilation of nutrients from our food. Probiotics are vitally important for good health and without them we cannot expect to have optimal gut health which in turn Impacts our energy levels, our mental clarity, moods, metabolism and our overall well being.
The best to choose are either in the form of a supplement;
Living nutrition create probiotics from food source of fermented kefir, Kombucha, herbs and Chinese mushrooms, and prebiotics that create a living matrix to multiply in your gut. www.livingnutrition.co.uk try Terrain for constipation. And Candi X for candida the whole range is tailor made for addressing various intestinal problems, also BioNutri offer an excellent product called Ecodophilus and kefir complex www.bionutri.co.uk/ Ecodophilus/
Try traditional fermented foods
You can also obtain transient probiotics daily in the form of fermented foods and drink these foods have been consumed by ancient cultures for centuries and ideally are consumed on a daily basis to repopulate with the friendly guys.
Kefir ( an authentic one is Nourish Kefir www.nourishkefir.co.uk which uses the original kefir grains) or Chuckling goat www.chucklinggoat.co.uk/kefir these are fermented dairy drinks originating in the Caucasus Mountains but the lactose has been consumed by the ‘kefir grains’ yeast/ bacteria and converted into billions of live probiotics, vitamins and minerals such as K2, Biotin, Calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D and folate. Kefir is much higher in probiotics than a standard yoghurt.
Kombucha a fermented fizzy tea drink, Kombucha originates from the East and was drunk by Chinese emperors and Samurai warriors for energy and longevity, it was known as the elixir of life. Very rich in probiotics and a few B Vitamins Kombucha contain special acids that help to detox the liver and have an anti inflammatory effect on the body. It is also helpful for an energy boost as it has a low dose of caffeine from the tea.
Go Kombucha, Ucha Kombucha, Karma Kombucha and Love Kombucha all offer pretty tasty versions of this drink but artisan from a farmers market is usually best. Pure Kombucha by Paul Sherring at Alexandra Palace Farmers market is an excellent artisan Kombucha . Email : email@example.com
A fermented cabbage originating from Eastern Europe, sauerkraut is another probiotic rich food which increases the vitamin C value of the cabbage through the fermentation process.
Kimchee similar to sauerkraut but significantly more spicy kimchee is of Korean descent and the Far East
Miso -is another far eastern fermented food made of fermented soya beans, rice and barley. Buried under the ground for years to increase the probiotics value. Clearspring white miso is a good one
Idli & dosas are of South Indian origin and are fermented Urid dal and rice. They taste delicious and are easy to digest.
Traditionally how bread was made before modern commercial mass produced methods, sourdough is a long fermentation process of letting the bread sit and gather natural yeasts in the air, rather than adding industrial Yeast to speed up the process. The fermentation of sourdough enables the natural yeasts to pre digest the bread breaking down and neutralising the anti nutrients locked inside the bran of the grain called phytate acid. Phytates left un- neutralised blocks the absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper iron and especially zinc. Hence why modern commercial mass produced breads are so unhealthy, among many other reasons. As it is pre
digested it makes it easier for you to digest. (As long as you do not have a gluten sensitivity)
Sourdough is easy to buy from either artisan bakers, farmers markets or –
Waitrose and Gail’s bakery for sourdough bread
ABO Artisan Breads Organic do the best fermented gluten free bread, they ground all their gluten free grains freshly on the premises and use a natural slow fermentation process and add good ingredients such as Seagreens. https://www.artisanbread-abo.com
Raw cheeses – again only if dairy suits you. Are naturally fermented and rich in nutrients and friendly bacteria
Raw cheeses are easy to come by from farmers markets or the cheese counter at your local Waitrose.
Don’t be fooled by commercial offerings advertised on the TV, usually described as ‘functional foods’ they are a waste of money and full of sugar. Yoghurt is ideal if you can get it raw as a goat or sheep offering from farmers markets, failing that, choose full fat and organic from your local supermarket or health store. Buying Independently from a local business is always a more ethical and conscious choice.
These companies make fabulous kimchee and sauerkraut
Eat Live: http://www.eatlive.co.uk
Pama have a wonderful range of local organic sourced fermented vegetables and Krauts;
Prebiotics are the food that your good flora prefer, and can be incorporated into your diet on a daily basis very easily. Choose your local farmers market or farm drop; https://www.farmdrop.com for the freshest seasonal choices;
For example try these;
Raw Dandelion Greens.
Apples ( cooked ideally)
Beans- soaked properly to neutralise phytic acid ( anti nutrients)
Sea vegetables. ( Seagreens are ideal)
Bitters can be really helpful for getting the digestive system stimulated prior to eating a meal; the bitter constituent of a herbal preparation can improve appetite by stimulating salivary glands and digestive organs, their bitter nature stimulates the stomach, liver, gallbladder and pancreas to
begin secreting vital digestive components used to assimilate nutrients in the body, such as bile and gastric juices.
Traditional medicine in cultures all over the world have revered bitters as an important staple for health and longevity. Apart from modern Western society, most cultures still view bitters as an important factor in digestive health.. If you do experience occasional symptoms of bloating and flatulence, your digestive system probably needs bitters.Bitters begin their work the moment they touch your tongue.
Bitters help in strengthening the overall function of the digestive system improving uptake of nutrients hence nourishing the body. Bitters are especially helpful for those with compromised digestion. Of the many to choose from, try
Artichoke & Ginger bitters by Natures Answer
The Herbalist’s Kitchen Lemon & Artichoke
Or Floradix Gallexier herbal bitters.
Other gut healers
bone broths are also excellent for gut healing, as the gelatine found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid that attracts and holds liquids including digestive juices, which supports optimal digestion. Always use grass fed free range meat (bones) at the least and organic if possible. Bone broth is also rich in amino acids such as glycine, arginine and Proline which all have anti- inflammatory qualities.
Bones can be obtained either very cheaply or free from a good free range butchers.
Aloe Vera belongs to the cactus family and has cooling and healing properties both internally and externally. Aloe Vera is particularly healing for any kind of inflammatory issue in the digestive system.
Aloe Vera leaf contains over 240 nutritional and medicinal qualities worth noting, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, lignin, saponins, sterols, amino acids, salicylic acid, etc.
Aloe is also a rich source of polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are found in every cell of our bodies. However, our body ceases to create them after the age of ten. After that, we are completely dependent upon food sources of polysaccharides.
From the leaves of aloe vera a special ingredient called acemannan is obtained.
Acemannan deserves special mention. This polysaccharide has antiviral and immune-stimulating properties.
Acemannan plays an important role in the body, stimulating macrophages to produce interferon and interleukin, which stop the growth of viruses.
Macrophages deeply cleanse the body and destroy the smaller particles of toxic metals and cancer. Acemannan also lubricates joints and protects the bowel wall against the “leaky gut” syndrome.
I do not recommend any network marketing company for aloe Vera, their use of chemical based preservatives are indiscriminate and are not helpful if you have a compromised gut, the best ones currently on the market in my personal experience are ;
Aloe organic Ferrox by Kiki
Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera;
Pukka Organic Aloe Vera. https://www.pukkaherbs.com/teas-supplements/pukka-organic-supplements/aloe-vera-juice/
There are both whole leaf and inner fillet to choose from. If using aloe for the first time, you can try the whole leaf for the first month, ( as long as you are not experiencing loose stools or diarrhoea) then go on to the inner fillet for long term use. Inner fillet is less detoxifying so is best for long term use. Keep aloe Vera in the fridge it is a fresh product. Best taken with filtered water and if you do take herbal or nutritional supplements, aloe optimises the absorption by up to 200% it can actually direct herbs deeper into the cells of the body where they are needed.
In cases of constipation try;
Triphala best taken with aloe Vera to maximise the benefits.
Magnesium is an electrolyte that helps normalise muscle functioning. Too little magnesium in your diet can contribute to muscle tension and also worsen symptoms of emotional stress. Good brands are ; lifestream, Viridian, Mag365 or BioNutri
For Leaky gut ;/
Other Fermented foods
Vogel produce a product called Molkosan made from fermented whey and is rich in lacto bacteria. Drink a capful in water twice a day before meals.
Evacuate your bowels.
Most laxatives create a lazy bowel, the ancient Ayurvedic remedy Triphala gives the bowels a healthy detox, whilst giving them an aerobic exercise at the same time. Try Pukka Herbs Triphala Plus or Wholistic Triphala 3-4 @ night. https://www.pukkaherbs.com/teas-supplements/pukka-organic-supplements/wholistic-triphala/
Or you can obtain Triphala from Organic India.
Eat poached fruits such as apples, pears, and apricots or rhubarb with warming spices for good fibre. Unless you have candida or have problems metabolising fructose.
Soak or ferment as much of your food as possible to make it easy on digestion cooked food over raw is also easier to digest. Only those with strong fiery digestive systems who are genetically gifted can properly breakdown raw cold food, especially in the Winter months.
Fish oils ( good quality such as Wiley’s finest, Tom Oliver or Viridian ) and nucleotides ( found in liver, kidneys etc or as a supplement ) help to repair villi in the gut. Nucleotides are the building blocks to DNA and RNA.
Avoid gluten and pasteurised dairy as much as possible, though some raw or fermented dairy may be tolerated. Try raw French butter from Waitrose and raw goat kefir from the farmers Market, see if you can tolerate these. Many people find they can digest raw dairy much easier as it still contains enzymes and nutrients and good bacteria that is otherwise destroy
process. An ancient Ayurvedic recipe for constipation takes milk warms it in a pan with a tsp of ghee and a tsp of cinnamon and is drunk at night before bed. If cow is not tolerated, try goat or sheep milk warmed in a pan with ghee. If no dairy do not heat almond milk it is an omega 6 which becomes inflammatory when heated try coconut milk or oat milk instead.
Cleanse your live
The liver is an important partner in supporting the digestive system.
The liver has multiple functions, but its main function within the digestive system is to process the nutrients absorbed from the small intestine. Bile from the liver secreted into the small intestine also plays an important role in digesting fat. In addition, the liver is the body’s chemical “factory.” It takes the raw materials absorbed by the intestine and makes all the various chemicals the body needs to function. The liver also detoxifies potentially harmful chemicals. It breaks down and secretes many drugs.
Milk thistle is the classic detoxifier for the liver. Try a Chinese mushroom liver support formula by Diet Horizon or a liver cleanse by Renew Life (www.renewlife.co.uk) or Fushi. Or Triphala and wholistic neem by Pukka. Avoid coffee, alcohol and fruit juice, things that put stress on the liver. Drink plenty of filtered and /or alkalised water.
Avoid sugar & refined starchy carbs
Choose healthier alternatives ; legume pasta, (the Really healthy Pasta Co )
Or strips of courgette steamed. ( see recipes)
Try quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat millet and brown rice Legume pasta are made from chickpeas or mung beans , gluten free pastas are made from quinoa, buckwheat and rice.
Use Blood sugar support formulas such as chromium , Maitake mushroom, Gymnema, bitter melon, prickly pear, larch tree extract to get sugar cravings under control. A good blood glucose support formula can be found in Supreme Meal by Peaceful Planet, or as supplements.
Natural sweeteners are: prunes ( try a chia seed prune pudding ) In moderation test and see if you can tolerate;
Unrefined Jaggery; palmyra jaggery by The Conscious Food Co. Is a low fructose sweetener.
Coconut Palm sugar is low gi but has fructose in a moderate quantity
Manuka raw honey, or raw honey use honey in moderation and don’t over heat it, fructose is moderate but raw honey has plenty of minerals and health benefits.
Stevia is totally Safe but not to everyone’s liking taste wise.
Fresh organic low gi fruit; (berries, apples, pears, plums, apricots, grapefruits and figs ) apples, plums and pears gently poached if you can.
Unless you have a severe candida overgrowth whereby you cannot eat anything sweet, avoid most fruit and sweeteners until your gut is back in balance.
Try these foods;
Poultry free range
Fresh low gi fruit poached ( unless you have candida overgrowth)
Black beans sufficiently soaked
Hazelnuts & almonds sufficiently soaked ,
Raw grass fed butter and virgin coconut oil.
Broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables (preferably organic).
Aged and preferably raw goats, sheep’s and cows cheese. ( found in either Waitrose or Farmers markets/ Borough Market)
Squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, organic carrots.
grass fed free range meat ( if you eat meat)
Hosting parasites is more common than you would think and still largely misunderstood. We define a parasite as “any organism that lives on, or in, the body of another organism.”
There are over 3,000 varieties of parasites that vary in size, from microscopic to some that can reach over 30 metres in length. Parasites reside in the host feeding off their cells, digested food and supplements. Parasites are placed into four categories;
Common sources of parasites are:
Frequent travel abroad
Raw fish (Sushi)
Raw or rare meat
Contaminated soil ( if walking barefoot)
Contaminated fruits and vegetables
Contact with Faeces ( through babies nappies or elderly care facilities )
Renew life have an excellent range of supplement protocols that purge the body of parasites. www.renewlife.co.uk
Helpful links ;
http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/be-kind-to-your-grains-and-your-grains-will-be-kind-to-you/ http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/the-skinny-on-fats/ http://www.marksdailyapple.com/best-and-worst-fruits/ http://www.bmj.com/press-releases/2013/02/04/study-raises-questions
Helpful reading ;
Gut Reaction – Gudrun Jonsson
Go with your Gut -Robyn Yukulis
The Art of Fermentation – Sandor Ellix Katz
The Soup Bar – Sara Lewis