Gut health is our forever hot topic. Digestion disorders are at the root of so many wellness challenges and there’s so much we’re still learning about the connection between gut, brain and immune system.
Donna Gates of Body Ecology is one of our all-time top pros on all things gut health. Take some time and explore this two-part series from Gates on foods, supplements, and other daily necessities that will keep your internal system thriving…
Prevention and healing begin in the digestive tract. Removing foods or even supplements that weaken the immune system and make you an easy “host” to infections is a vital first step if you want to create a thriving inner ecosystem. The goal is to starve the bad microorganisms that could be creating inflammation and possibly feeding a systemic infection.
Why Is Gut Health So Critical?
Because your body’s systems are all interconnected. If your digestive system doesn’t absorb the proper nutrients, or stimulate the proper enzymes, or unlock the proper systemic cleaning, you likely will suffer in all parts of your body. But, the more efficient your gut is performing, the more likely you’ll be at your best. Here are just some symptoms that can result from an unhealthy gut:
+ mood disorders
+ food allergies
+ weight problems
+ immune deficiencies
+ blood sugar irregularities
+ acne and skin disorders
It’s worth repeating: Gut health foods are important. All systems of your body are connected and your overall health is optimized through proper gut health. You are not just ‘feeding’ your stomach and intestines, but you are relying on enzymes and abundant micro-flora to extract all of the benefit from your food.
Before we dive into gut health foods, it’s important to also mention that intermittent fasting can play a key role in obtaining excellent gut health. By providing your body with an 8 hour eating window, you may see big changes in your digestion and overall health — in weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose levels, heart rate, genetic expression to support longevity, cellular repair, inflammation markers, and more.
9 Foods That Promote A Healthy Gut
Below are the primary gut health foods you need to include in your diet:
Proteins | You need at least 30 grams of usable body protein every day in order to build or repair muscles, bones, tissues, hair, organs, etc. An excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, spirulina, provides all of the 8 essential amino acids and when it’s fermented, it is that much easier to digest and gives a boost of beneficial microflora.
Fermented spirulina | Is a nutrient dense detoxing superfood. Take a daily whole-body detoxification food like this to aid cleansing and strengthen the body’s primary detox organs. I recommend fermented spirulina as a great start to a detox regimen. You may want to take 1 teaspoon per day. Make sure you verify the source of your spirulina too to ensure its purity as this superfood will soak up any heavy metals and toxins around where it was sourced. I also recommend fermented spirulina to maximize its bioavailability and boost this detoxifier with a host of other benefits. This eases the strain on your digestive system while it heals, yet amplifies the cleansing of toxins from your body.
Healthy Fats | Support cognitive function helps create hormones in the body, maintains the structure of cell walls, helps with energy production and neurodegeneration. Protects against inflammation and oxidative stress. Essential fatty acids contribute significantly to adrenal recovery.
Fermented, Probiotic-Rich Foods | Improve your immune system, stops cravings for sugar and carbohydrates in processed foods, improve digestion, lowers cholesterol, increase the ability to absorb nutrients in your foods by up to 100 times, rich in probiotics that are much more potent than probiotic supplements and help build the inner ecosystem.
Homemade kefir + coconut kefir | Also have magical properties. The difference between this and yogurt is that they contain different strains of beneficial bacteria. Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match. Kefir also contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt and also contains beneficial yeasts which dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body.
Leafy Greens | Like kale or dandelion greens, they’re rich in phytochemicals and carotenoids that have cancer protective properties, high in vitamin and minerals including potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, calcium and magnesium.
Broccoli | Contains sulforaphane which can improve vitamin D absorption to aid in immunity, fighting inflammation and cancer, increasing bone mass. Contains glucosinolates-sulfur containing compounds, which when broken down into metabolites, may help cells from being damaged and also have an antibacterial effect as well.
Also, be sure to include plenty of these mineral-rich gut health foods:
Bone broth | Made of collagen which has shown benefit to gastric ulcers, improving digestion, contains glutamine and important metabolic fuel for cells in the small intestine, full of minerals, strengthening of the immune system.
Even though bone broth is praised as a great gut health tool, if you have candida or a yeast issue in the gut, watch for oxalates from collagen in bone broth. Candida yeast produces a precursor to oxalates, and it has the ability to transform collagen into corrosive oxalate crystals. While bone broth can help the gut heal, excessive collagen in the diet and an overgrowth of Candida can team up, generating a toxic accumulation of oxalates in your body.
Additionally, when it comes to genetics, some people can get more anxious and/or depressed when they have collagen because it does not contain tryptophan, therefore, lowering serotonin levels. If you find yourself experiencing mood changes, consider adding in some tryptophan with your collagen. Certain genes may also create a negative response to the collagen unless you fix the cofactors. Remember: Everything has a front and a back to it!
Sea vegetables | Helps lower cholesterol, detox the body from heavy metals and environmental pollutants, helps control the growth of pathogenic viruses, bacteria and candida, help to balance thyroid function, fights constipation, prevents aging and chronic disease.
Sea salt | Sea water contains minerals such as ionized sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and selenium, plus many trace elements such as copper, iron, zinc, manganese, and chromium. The human body uses the minerals & trace elements in sea salt to create electrolytes, maintaining the “internal ocean” which is vital to the proper functioning of every system in the body.
8 Supplements, Herbs + Medicinal Mushrooms
Herbs | Herbs such as turmeric root, oregano leaf, pau d’arco bark, garlic bulb, peppermint leaf, fennel seed, echinacea root and rosemary cleanse the body, are anti-fungal, anti-viral, and immune boosting powerful antioxidants to help control pathogenic bacteria.
Reishi Mushroom | Promotes longevity and cardiovascular health, boosts immune system, regulates blood sugar and is antiviral.
Cordyceps | Effective at fighting influenza A, restoring fundamental energy.
Dong Quai | Helps balance estrogen levels, cleanse the blood, treats iron deficiency, enhances female fertility, increases circulation and improves complexion.
Microalgae | Nutrient and protein dense, reduce inflammation, enhance endurance and performance, repairs the liver and protects the kidneys.
Digestive Enzymes | Aids with abdominal bloating and discomfort after meals, indigestion, gas, candida overgrowth. There are different types too depending on your body’s needs (full spectrum, digestive help for those who can’t process dairy and protein well and also for those with issues of the small intestine).
Mineral Supplement | Helps to nourish thyroid and adrenals, detoxify, reduce signs of aging, build immunity, chelate heavy metals—this has also been shown to reduce gray hair in women.
Probiotics | Cleanse the liver, treat acne and help with complexion, make hair and fingernails stronger, gives energy, keeps your inner ecology balanced, increases longevity. The best strains to help make natural folate and increase good bacteria (improving digestion) are lactobacillus plantarum and bifidobacteria—and if you really want to go one step further, add in hearty prebiotics to feed the good bacteria.
This is part one in a series. Watch this space for part two coming soon.