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Eating for gut health

As crazy as this sounds, the gastro-intestinal system has its own independent nervous system that controls digestion, has hundreds of millions of neurons and the same number of neurotransmitters as our brains.
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Our health starts in our gut and it is believed that the gut is our second brain.

Last week, I talked about the detriments of sugar on our immune system. We can all agree that a healthy immunity is very important right now, especially in the face of this pandemic. Today, I want to talk about our very important guts! 

Our health starts in our gut and it is believed that the gut is our second brain. As crazy as this sounds, the gastro-intestinal system has its own independent nervous system that controls digestion, has hundreds of millions of neurons and the same number of neurotransmitters as our brains. I cannot express enough how vitally important to take care of gut health (intestinal flora).   

Gut issues such as bloating, gas, cramps are very common and are our bodies way of speaking to us about what we have consumed. But the more serious gastro-intestinal disorders like Crohns, IBS, and colitis can have serious health consequences and require heavy medication to control. 

How do we end up with issues in our guts in the first place?  This is a complex issue that has many factors, but two of them are diet & antibiotic over-use. Antibiotics kill the bad bacteria but also the vital good bacteria in our guts. My generation is one that has extremely overused antibiotics, rushing to the doctor for the magic pill instead of choosing natural antibiotics like garlic and oregano oil for non-major health issues. This onslaught on our essential gut flora starts an imbalance and could be the root cause behind many life-long digestive and inflammatory issues (including candida).

What dietary changes can we make to be more gut friendly? We can avoid some foods such as refined sugar & sugar-rich foods (which feed bad bacteria), fried foods, excessive red meat and wheat, alcohol, and make sure to consume others. Pre-biotic and probiotic foods support a health gut flora. Prebiotic foods are types of food that have a special dietary fibre inulin which acts as a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut. Some examples of prebiotic foods are raw garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, green bananas, dandelion greens, bran, apples, whole oats, and legumes.

Probiotics are the living fermented foods that create healthy bacteria in your gut which is vitally important for our digestion, immunity and overall health. They include all fermented foods such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut & kefir. The store-bought probiotic foods are usually pasteurized so it is best to get them from a farmers market, health food store or better yet – learn how to make them yourself.  There are many instructional videos as well as many people willing to share scobey starters or kefir grain starters.

A good multi-vitamin with all the minerals that we don’t get from our food anymore is also important for our gut health. As well as digestive enzymes or probiotic pills available from your local health food store

These dietary suggestions should not replace medical intervention if you have a health issue that needs attention. Please consult your physician & a naturopath to oversee your health options.  Email info@elixirforlife.ca for questions or more information.