The gut truly is the epicentre to our health. It’s connected to our brains, immune systems, and can affect the interplay of hormones, our nervous system and even our quality of sleep and relaxation.
Our bodies are made up of around 100 trillion living organisms, with most residing in our gut known as ‘micro flora’. Our microflora is made up of both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. While our ‘good’ bacteria help us produce hormones, train the immune system, regulate the toxins we ingest, help control our metabolism, absorb nutrients for us, a disgruntled gut and the ‘bad’ microflora it houses can make us more susceptible to a range of diseases and conditions such as irritable bowel disease, constipation, obesity, anxiety and depression, inflammation and metabolic conditions like insulin resistance.
That’s why looking after your gut and supporting the growth of our ‘good’ microflora has never been so important. So, how do we go about this? Well, fear not! I’ve got some simple and delicious steps for you to improve your gut health, enjoy food and feel the benefits.
Ensuring adequate hydration, enjoying easy-to-digest recipes and eliminating any foods that cause inflammation or digestive symptoms is the key to firstly healing the gut. Think stocks, soups, stews, curries and smoothies and juices. Eating slow cooked foods and blended foods that are pre-digested, enables our bodies to absorb all the nutrients that we’re eating and digest them correctly – helping to heal and seal the gut.
Another way to look after your gut is to give it some time to rest. As a result of instant and processed foods and chemically driven choices, our digestive systems are over-burdened and confused. By consuming slow-cooked and cooked and adding healing spices such as turmeric and ginger your body will allow itself the time it needs to rest and digest whilst still healing and sealing the lining of the gut so you can absorb more nutrients from your food.
Using bone broth or veggie broths as a base to meals means you can enjoy key minerals and ingredients such as gelatine which are just as nourishing for your insides as they are for your outsides.
Root vegetables, like parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes are naturally gluten-free, rich in prebiotic fibre and provide a whole load of nutrients. Plus, they have a low glycaemic index which means they won’t induce inflammation or digestive issues. I love roasting root veggies in the oven and using them to make thicker and heartier soups. The pre-biotic fibres in these vegetables help to maintain a healthy community of bacteria in the gut and can ease digestion.
I’d love to share with you some of my favourite foods and recipes to supercharge your gut. First up, we’ve got to start with bone broth because you can’t have a gut health talk without broth; it’s practically illegal. Broths contain a protein called collagen (yes, the stuff they get super preach-y about whenever you go to the beautician). Collagen is in every bone, skin, blood vessel and tendon in the body, and helps maintain the integrity of tissues, the elasticity of skin and tightens the digestive tract. Once collagen is cooked it turns into gelatin which can also help prevent damage to the intestines and improve the lining of the digestive tract. If you’re looking for a new bone broth recipe to nail, check out my Gut-Healing Chicken Turmeric Bone Broth recipe below. You also know it’s healthy because… turmeric.
I know, I know. If you hear about turmeric one more time, you’ll roll your eyes so far backwards they may not come back to the front of your head but listen up! The active constituent within turmeric known as curcumin is the reason this golden-hue is so vital for our wellbeing. Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory ingredient, helping soothe the gut lining. Turmeric is also an anti-oxidant, meaning it helps reduce oxidation and looks after our cells. However, if you don’t feel like staining every single thing you’ve ever owned with turmeric, there are plenty of other delicious, gut-healing spices that you can get your hands on! Ginger is another zingy ingredient that’s high in both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Other anti-inflammatory herbs to spice things up include cinnamon, cumin, parsley and basil!
So, once we’ve healed and sealed the digestive tract with collagen and anti-inflammatory ingredients, it’s time to say hello to probiotics! Think of your gut like a garden. We need to plant the right seeds in our gut in order for it to flourish with beautiful flowers. Probiotics are high in anti-bacterial properties, which help to grow the ‘friendly’ bacteria in the gut. While this is useful for everyone because we all want good-functioning gut, probiotics can also help get your gut back into tip-top shape after antibiotics and reduce antibiotic-related diarrhoea and constipation. Some of my favourite ways to get some probiotics in include Sauerkraut, Kim Chi, Kombucha and Yoghurt, like in my Pan-Fried Pineapple recipe below.
We all know probiotics are necessary for flourishing the growth of ‘friendly’ bacteria in the gut, but we often forget to acknowledge their partner in crime: prebiotics. Probiotics and prebiotics are like Batman and Robin, they’d be useless without the other! Prebiotics are fibre-rich foods that help grow beneficial bacteria in the gut and help rebuild intestinal walls. Prebiotics act as a natural fertiliser, helping fuel, feed and nourish probiotics in the system. Foods rich in prebiotic fibre include dandelion greens, onion, garlic, artichoke and root vegetables. Try roasting all your favourite prebiotic-rich foods in a tray like I’ve done in my Prebiotic Tray Bake or throw them into my Crustless Vegetable Quiche.
If you’re looking for a gut-healing dessert to have on hand, you can’t look past my Pan-Fried Pineapple. Seriously, this stuff is good! Pineapple is high in bromelain, the ingredient that may make your tongue feel a bit fuzzy after consuming too much of it. The enzyme bromelain is also high in anti-inflammatory properties, reducing inflammation. This means it’s a perfect ingredient to include if you’re experiencing any pain, tenderness, redness or oedema. I’ve combined bromelain-rich pineapple here with coconut yogurt which is filled with probiotic-goodness, to enrich the gut-healing goodness of this deliciously dynamic duo.
If you’re keen to up your gut health game this season, be sure to try these delicious recipes from my book Supercharge Your Gut. I just know you, and your gut, will love them!
www.superchargedfood.com | @leesupercharged