Your gut is the powerhouse of your entire body and affects your physical and mental health.
70% of your body’s immune system is found in the gut and 70% of your body’s dopamine and 90% of your body’s serotonin are produced there. Dopamine and serotonin are the hormones in your body that help regulate your mood.
If your gut isn’t thriving, your immune system (what keeps us physically healthy) and your hormones (in this case those that support mental health) will suffer.
So what does it mean to have a healthy gut?
First thing is first, you need to have enough workers on the job site helping to keep you healthy and strong. The workers are known as microbes and are the bacteria, virus, fungi, etc. that inhabit our gut.
Secondly, you need a wide variety of workers. Every worker has a different job and you need to make sure you have guys there to do them all.
With gut health rising in popularity, everyone is looking for the magic pill for a healthy gut. I do think very highly of probiotic supplements and while I encourage people to take a probiotic while they are healing their gut, did you know you can achieve the same goal for a lot less money?
Fermented foods actually help increase healthy gut flora and help us have a strong healthy gut that is thriving. Also, if you are eating fermented foods in the form of vegetables, the fermentation process actually makes the nutrients more bio-available (your body can better utilize them).
Fermented foods are not new, in fact actually quite old. Fermentation, also known as lacto-fermentation, is the age-old method of preserving food.
According to Dr. Will Bulsiewicz MD, consumption of fermented foods could increase the number of microbes in the diet by 10,000 fold.
Let’s talk about some of my favorite ferments!
How to get ferments into your diet?
My number one favorite and the one I recommend to most everyone as a starter is raw fermented sauerkraut. Our family eats this by the spoonful, but I totally get it – you likely aren’t there. Try mixing into cooked scrambled eggs or pasta, stir into your favorite hummus or top your favorite salad or sandwich.
Pro Tip: Look for it in the refrigerated section and don’t heat!
While similar to yogurt, kefir is thinner and typically has more probiotics. Add as a base to your smoothie (or make a Belly Boosting Drink) or use as a base for some overnight oats.
Pro Tip: Buy plain and sweeten yourself. Consider dairy free options if sensitive to cow’s milk.
This is similar to sauerkraut in that it is a fermented cabbage base. With kimchi, other veggies are often added and it is more spicy. Add onto some avocado toast or stir into your favorite noodle dish.
Pro Tip: You will also find this in the refrigerated section and shouldn’t heat.
Kombucha is made from fermenting tea and then sweetening. This is a great option for someone trying to get away from soda or other sugary drinks or just wanting a fun drink. However, this shouldn’t be considered your only source of fermentation. It is often full of sugar.
Pro Tip: Start with only 1-2 ounces a day, working up to no more than 4-6 a day.
Simple additions to your diet can make a drastic improvement to your gut health and subsequently overall health.
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