But with that there is also a lot of confusion about what is and what isn’t good for our gut. Rather than writing a blog post about listing foods to eat and not to eat, taking a more general overview is usually a better place to start so here goes…
EAT INCLUSIVELY AND WITH DIVERSITY
One of the biggest things that many people do when trying to improve their digestive health is a carte blanche ruling out of perfectly healthy foods based on a blog that someone might have read or some misguided advice. The fact is that our diets are much narrower now than they ever have been before, ironic when we have much more choice on many levels. But we have become creatures of habit, gravitating to the same meals and food choices day in day out. This alone has its ramifications for our gut, specifically our microbiome (that’s the trillions of microorganisms present in our gut). Our microbiome needs and thrives from diversity in our foods, particularly vegetables so rather than thinking on quantity think more about variation. If you are considering eliminating a specific food or food group ask yourself why and be informed, my advice is to seek out the help of a professional as it’s a complicated issue and the last thing you want to do is unnecessarily deprive yourself – gut health or taste wise.
Whilst deeper or more pronounced gut issues are often much more complex than simply making tweaks in the diet there are certain foods that provide us with natural probiotics – that is beneficial bacteria for the gut. Yup these are largely your fermented foods folks! Growing up with a Polish father who was forever making sauerkraut or ‘kraut as its more affectionately known as well as a mother who loved making her famous pickled onions I guess it was the norm in our household. And it seems that more recently these foods are having a bit of a renaissance. Some people might still be teetering on their foray into fermentation but something as simple as eating a small square of unpastuerised aged cheese provides a decent boost of these beneficial bacteria. Other sources include miso paste, delicious on sourdough, which is yet another fermented food hero, as well as kefirs and kombucha. A cheese + pickle sourdough sandwich you say! Yes please.
WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUAL
One of the key things to remember is that we are all individual and that includes our gut. Indeed the way that we respond to food varies from person to person massively. So with that in mind read and absorb information but don’t take it as gospel that you have to follow a certain diet or eliminate lots of different foods. Be critical in your thinking, see how and why certain nutrition advice on gut health might apply to you and then take a measured approach. Just because something works for one person it isn’t necessarily going to work for you or your gut.
REST + DIGEST
And ah the ultimate cliché but its true that beyond what is actually on the plate in front of you can be irrelevant if you are inhaling it and/or distracted with multiple media devices. Sit. Chew. Be present. That’s the best thing you can do for your gut before anything else and it doesn’t cost a penny!
Eve Kalinik, Nutritional Therapist.
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