The Importance of Gut Health
This article was contributed by Kinsey Van Druten, a Holistic Registered Nutritionist™
Before I began doing the work I do today at a nationwide food sensitivity blood testing clinic and prior to graduating from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, I had no idea how important our gut was to being healthy and how necessary it was to have a well diverse micro biome, or “probiotics.” Since “probiotic” means pro-life, can you guess what not having a healthy microbiome means?! Through my work, I began to realize the great importance of gut heath. Do you know that 70% of our immune system resides in our gut and 80% of our serotonin is made in the gut?! Therefore, it should be of no surprise to learn that without proper gut function, we become more inclined to catch every virus and bug that we come in contact with, to suffer from mood disorders, and to throw off our delicate hormonal balance.
So, let’s talk about the various ways our guts can be compromised. A few such ways are from a poor diet, chronic stress, toxin overload, and bacterial imbalance. Foods that can damage our intestinal linings are un-sprouted grains, sugar, GMO’s and conventional dairy.
Un-sprouted grains contain large amounts of anti nutrients called phytates and lectins. Sprouting and fermenting grains reduces phytates and lectins, making these foods easier to digest. Gluten-containing grains will damage your intestinal lining and cause leaky gut syndrome. For these reasons, in my line of work I recommend avoiding these grains whenever possible.
Conventional cow’s milk is another food that can cause a permeable gut lining. The pasteurization process itself will destroy vital enzymes, making sugars like lactose very difficult to digest. Because we lose the enzyme, lactase, to digest the milk sugar, lactose, most of us aren’t even aware we are lactose intolerant! For this reason, I only recommend buying dairy that is raw if you still choose to go froward with drinking the milk of another species.
Sugar is another substance that will wreak havoc on our digestive systems. Sugar feeds the growth of yeast, candida and bad bacteria, which will further damage your gut.
Most of my clients at this point fear they will have nothing left to eat if they have to give up all the above mentioned foods. If you have this fear too, this is a sign that perhaps you are eating more processed foods than real foods and will benefit from making some dietary changes before it’s too late.
My number one go-to food you can start incorporating into your diet today to nourish your gut is bone broth. Bone broth contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal your damaged cell walls. I’ve had many clients do a bone broth cleanse to help get them on the right track, reduce inflammation, and feel better faster! Here’s a handy list of some of other foods that promote gut health:
- Probiotic (“good bacteria”) rich foods like kefir; other fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, kimchi or Kombucha (these foods have “good bacteria” that regenerate your gut flora naturally). If you decide to take a probiotic supplement, check with a health care professional first.
- Steamed vegetables which are easy to digest.
- Healthy fats like avocados, ghee, pasture-raised eggs (don’t throw away that yolk!), wild caught salmon, and coconut oil.
- Fruit in moderation (think 1-2 servings a day) especially puréed apples and pears.
- Liver loving foods like carrots, beetroot and leafy greens all help the lover work efficiently and effectively.
- Glutamine rich foods like fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley support the repair and regeneration of the intestinal lining and soothe inflammation. Glutamine is also available as a supplement but check with a health care professional before taking any supplements.
- Water (preferably alkaline) try with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Herbal teas are also great. Peppermint, ginger, fennel and fenugreek are known for their digestive supporting properties.
Here’s to your (gut) health!
Kinsey Van Druten is a graduate from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she studied innovative coaching methods, practical lifestyle management techniques, and over 100 dietary theories, including Ayurveda, gluten-free, and Paleo, to raw, vegan, and macrobiotics, and everything in between. She currently serves as the Culinary Engineer and Holistic Nutrition Expert for Neuroflex Juice Company, where she works one-on-one with clients to design healthy snacks that fit their unique goals and dietary needs. www.kinseyvandruten.com
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