3 Tips for a Healthy Gut
In Part 1, Local Food Pairings for Max Nutrient Absorption, we laid out which foods help your body absorb all the goodness in other foods. However! You can carefully pair foods all day long, but if your gut’s out of whack you still won’t be maxing out the nutrients in your fresh local food. The secret to max nutrient absorption? Bacteria.
Did you know you’ve got 300 to 500 species of bacteria living in your digestive tract? Yes indeedy, it takes a pretty big village of bacteria to properly process your food. When your bacteria are healthy and thriving, they make your digestion more comfortable and supercharge your immune system. Proper gut health has also been linked to many things including improvement in overall mood, mental health, an increase in skin quality, and prevention of obesity.
To keep your bacteria pumped and in the zone, make sure they have a steady supply of prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are the nutrients your bacteria need to survive. Probiotics are more of the living bacteria that keep your digestive system working right. Here are three tips to make it happen.
Add to and feed your microbiome
A lot of people take prebiotics and probiotics in the form of supplements. But most dieticians and healthcare providers believe this is not necessary. All the pre’s and pro’s your body needs are packed into the fresh, wholesome foods you eat every day. You can fine-tune your pre and pro supply by adding or swapping out certain foods in your diet.
- High fiber foods including beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, asparagus, leafy greens, and many others serve up the prebiotics your bacteria are craving.
Tip: Try replacing processed grains for whole grains to increase your fiber intake.
- Garlic and onion are especially rich in prebiotics.
- Fermented food and drinks such as cultured milk and yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and cheese promote the growth of probiotics.
Tip: Try Seasonal Roots’ Kombucha for a tasty kick, and yogurt made from farm fresh milk!
We all know that sleep is important for both the mind and body, but we may not think about how sleep issues may affect our gut. Lack of sleep leads to hormone imbalances, which in turn causes increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. When stress levels become too high, there’s a greater risk of leaky gut. Eek! That can mean bloating, inflammation, stomach pain, and changes in the gut’s microbiome. So it’s really important to prioritize both the foods you eat and the amount of sleep you get! Besides tasting great, cherries, carrots, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, and more, are fruits/veggies that offer nutrients that are known to support good sleep.
Tip: Some of the nutrients tied to good sleep include: magnesium, calcium, melatonin, etc. Check out this article from The Sleep Foundation for some dietary tips.
Getting enough water everyday is an important step in promoting gut health. When the body is dehydrated, the large intestine will soak up water from the foods you eat, making it more difficult to pass that digested food on through. While some experts recommend that the average person drink between six and eight glasses of water daily, who’s average? It depends on your age, weight, activity level, weather, and how much water is in the foods you eat. So just keep that glasses-of-water number in mind and listen closely to what your body’s telling you.
Tip: Enjoy fresh fruit during the day to contribute to your water intake.
About Seasonal Roots
Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our neighborhood market managers – who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grass fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.