A healthy gut is critical for good digestion, good distribution of nutrients and for the ability to detox and eliminate wastes. Together, these are all key processes when it comes to losing weight, eating better and feeling better about yourself.
If you aren’t looking after your gut, you will have a much harder time reaching your health goals. Do yourself a favour and try some of these things to help improve your gut health as part of your new healthy lifestyle routine.
Marshmallow root tea
According to naturopathic folklore, marshmallow root’s “particular excellence is in soothing irritated tissues.” When there are issues going on in the gut, whether it is low stomach acid, increased stomach acid, dysbiosis or leaky gut, one of the cardinal occurrences is inflammation. Inflammation within the stomach results in the stomach failing to secrete adequate mucus and enzymes. This means the stomach is at risk for being harmed by the stomach acid (think ulcers), and that food is not digested properly, preventing adequate absorption of nutrients. This toxic environment in the stomach means it is easy for bad bacteria to survive and reproduce and it is easy for food to sit in the stomach and putrefy due to poor digestion, leading to gas, bloating and lots of food for those unwanted gut bacterium. Marshmallow root is a great way to help reduce the inflammation and soothe the stomach and it comes in the form of powder, capsule, or as a tea.
Aloe Vera juice
Aloe Vera juice, comes from the aloe plant – yes the same one you have on your windowsill, which you use to soothe sunburns. And just like it makes your sunburn feel better, which is red and inflamed, it does the same for the gut on the inside, easing the red and inflamed stomach lining. It is also anti-viral an antimicrobial, giving it another healing property, whereby it can help reduce the proliferation of bad bacteria within the stomach. A gut dominated by bad bacteria versus good probioitics is more likely to lead to further gut issues like leaky gut or small bacterial overgrowth, and will cause symptoms such as nausea and bloating. Finally, aloe vera is a great choice because it has the added benefit of helping to reduce constipation, an often unfortunate co-occurrence with poor gut health.
This fermented drink is a great source of probiotics, healthy bacteria that we need in our gut for proper digestion, detoxification and production of vitamins. Made using milk, coconut milk or water, kefir is like a really runny yogurt. It has more of a sour flavor than traditional yogurt and can be purchased plain or in flavoured options such as strawberry and blueberry. Traditional kefir is prepared using cow’s milk, but if you do not consume dairy, look for non-dairy alternatives such as coconut milk kefir, or kefir made from water kefir crystals. Be sure to read the label and ensure there is no added sugar, as adding sugar will negate the benefits of the probiotic component.
Our gut is filled with thousands and thousands of bacteria, both good and bad. A healthy gut is predominated by good bacteria, which proliferates and contributes to our ability to digest food, helps us absorb minerals such as calcium and iron, aids in fat digestion, and produces B vitamins, as well as several other important digestive functions. These good bacteria, known as probiotics, need to be consumed in our food so they can get to our stomach and begin to proliferate. Fermented foods are an excellent source of probiotics. During the fermentation process, these bacteria are naturally produced (that’s what gives fermented food that sour smell), and when consumed are of great benefit in helping maintain healthy gut flora. Aim to consume fermented foods 3-5 times a week.
Have you ever noticed that after you cook oatmeal and soak the pot, there is this slimy layer that forms on the bottom of the pot from the leftover cooking residue? Sounds gross, but that same sliminess is exactly what makes oatmeal so good for gut health. More appropriately known as mucilaginous, oatmeal coats the gut with a mucus like layer protecting it from bad bacteria, preventing further degradation of the anatomical stomach mucus, and inhibiting enzymes and hydrochloric acid from breaking down the stomach lining. All of these occurrences are contributors to poor gut health, leading to dysbiosis and leaky gut. Choose foods like oatmeal and okra to offer a protective coating and soothe the stomach lining to prevent further discomfort.