The digestive system is really the cornerstone of our well-being. Our gut is home to approximately 100 trillion microorganisms. The gut flora promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism, and comprises more than 75% of our immune system.
The digestive system is responsible for breaking down the foods we eat, extracting the nutrients we need, and then eliminating the waste. That is why gut health is vital to our well-being.
If our digestive system is in order, we feel great and can perform at optimal levels. If our gut health is poor, we can end up with impaired immune and nervous systems, and can experience hormonal dysfunction. In many people, bad gut flora may show up in symptoms such as depression, brain fog, eczema/psoriasis, inflammations such as asthma, metabolic problems like obesity and diabetes, or hypersensitivity such as allergies.
Several features of our modern lifestyle can contribute to an unhealthy gut flora. Among them are antibiotics and other medications like birth controls; diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods; diets low in fermentable (or soluble) fibers; dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils that cause a leaky (or permeable) gut; chronic stress, and chronic infections.
Though it is difficult to pinpoint the symptoms of poor gut health, there are certain foods that can help with a healthy gastrointestinal tract. These are listed below:
Kefir: This is a fermented and slightly carbonated dairy beverage which can contribute to improved gut health by delivering good bacteria to our gut and also by helping the synthesis of vitamins B12 and K.
Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage): This is another fermented food which delivers health-promoting probiotic bacteria to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, if purchasing, be mindful to buy freshly made sauerkraut and not canned as canned sauerkraut is pasteurized, which kills off much of its beneficial bacteria.
Kimchee: Again, this is a spicy fermented cabbage which is traditionally from Korea. Kimchee also contains healthy bacteria and can help with improved immunity.
Kombucha: This is a black fizzy tea which has been fermented by a symbiotic mixture of bacteria. In addition to beneficial probiotics, kombucha also contains antioxidants within its tea base.
Dark chocolate: The bacteria within our GI tract can efficiently ferment chocolate and even produce anti-inflammatory byproducts. These fermentation byproducts have been found to benefit both a healthy gut and a healthy heart. Choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao content.
September 2, 2014