There is a misconception that you are what you eat, but in fact, it is about how well your digestive system can absorb the nutrients from the food that you eat. Your gut is a barrier that selectively chooses what particles get filtered through to the bloodstream and what doesn’t. If the gut wall is damaged by eating processed foods, sugar, exposure to infections, antibiotics and stress, the gut becomes “leaky” which means the gut lining becomes porous allowing bigger molecules than usual to pass through into the bloodstream. These molecules put our immune system into defence mode, and over time, this defence breaks down and may be the cause of autoimmune disorders and chronic disease.
Here are some simple tips that you can do everyday to keep your gut healthy.
1. Getting the right balance of Prebiotics and Probiotics.
So what are pre and probiotics and why are they both so important for gut health?
Prebiotics are foods that we eat that nourish the cells lining our intestine and help nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream. They also provide a suitable environment for good bacteria to thrive and prosper while keeping the undesirable pathogens under control.
Some examples of prebiotic foods are:
Foods from the allium family such as onions, leeks, garlic
Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, chicory, dandelion greens, green tea, honey, green tea, eggplant, legumes, asparagus and green bananas.
Probiotics on the other hand are found in fermented foods. They are naturally rich source of beneficial bacteria, vitamins and minerals and digestive enzymes that aid digestion and keep the gut healthy.
Cultured and fermented foods have been around for centuries, and were used as a means of preserving foods before refrigeration. They were revered for their healing properties and considered a tonic for longevity. Consider this, eating fermented foods is one of the cheapest, easiest methods of populating your bowel with a healthy balance of microorganisms for better health.
Unfortunately, Processed foods, stress and the use of antibiotics severely affect this fine balance. Dr David Perlmutter, in his book Brain Maker states that we need these trillions of diverse bacteria to help us:
Digest and absorb our nutrients
Stop potential bad bacteria from entering our bodies
Detoxify harmful toxins
Build our immune system, considering that 80% of our immune system is in the gut wall.
Produce important enzymes that help make our neurotransmitters
Reduce stress, help us sleep and reduce inflammation.
Ferments are easy to make at home with abundant resources on the net to help you start. Alternatively, purchase ferments that have been locally made from organic markets or your local health food store to guarantee that your ferment is brimming with goodness.
Some examples of health boosting gut healing ferments are
Unsweetened plain yoghurt
Cultured condiments: Try to include fermented foods daily. For those new to fermented foods, start slow and gradually build up to avoid any discomfort
2. Bone Broth:
You probably remember your grandmother preparing a soup using bones from the butcher and having them simmer away for days on the stove top. It was a cherished part of my childhood, coming home to a hearty vegetable and beef broth in winter.
Nicknamed the “Jewish Penicillin” Bone Broths have been used for centuries as a healing brew. They are healing and soothing to the digestive tract as well as being an immediate source of energy to the cells of the intestinal wall.
Bone broth, whether made from chicken, lamb, beef or fish bones is full of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur and other trace minerals as well as collagen, gelatin and amino acids. Bone broth soothes the lining of the digestive tract, reduces inflammation as well as being rich in chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, especially good for those with joint inflammation. Bone broths are available from organic markets, health food stores and organic butchers, or consider making broths at home.
3. Eating healthy fats
Coconut oil, olive oil, butter, avocado, nuts and wild caught fish are all excellent sources of fat. They all contain fat soluble vitamins such as A,D,E and K that the cells need to repair and ease an inflamed gut and the source of energy required for digestion. Fats are also sustaining and keep us feeling full between meals. Fats are essential to include for a healthy gut.
Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that can help balance out the population of bacteria in the gut. It is easy to include into your diet everyday, coconut milk or coconut water can be used as an alternative for milk in baking and smoothies, coconut cream is perfect for adding to curries and coconut oil is suitable for cooking at high temperatures.
A handful of nuts or ¼ an avocado are an ideal 3pm snack that will keep you sustained until dinner.
Wild caught salmon, sardines, mackerel are rich in omega 3 fats. Omega 3 fats have anti inflammatory properties and can be helpful in soothing an inflamed gut. Consider including fish into your diet, choose fish that has been wild caught as opposed to farmed fish.
4. Eat your Vegetables
Vegetables are abundant in fibre, vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed to repair damage and rebuild healthy new tissue. Try to include a colourful array of vegetables in every meal. Aim to do more than the recommended 5 serves a day. Make vegetables the base of every meal.
Blending or juicing your vegetables is an easy way to get more than your 5 serves a day. Green leafy vegetables make a tasty blended juice with lemon and apple. Fabulous for the gut as the work of breaking down vegetables is already done, making it easier for the nutrients to be absorbed from the digestive system into the body.
Soups are another easy way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Pumpkin and sweet potato are rich in vitamin A, a source of nourishment for the gut lining and a gentle form of fibre. A pumpkin, carrot and onion soup made with bone broth as a base with added coconut cream, is a power packed gut healing brew that will nourish and heal your whole body.
We all make choices every day. If we want to look after ourselves, the easiest step that we can take is to eat good, nourishing, whole foods. Looking after our gut is essential to health at whatever stage of life that you are at. Make healthy food choices by including fermented foods, healthy fats, bone broths and vegetables into your every day.
Nutrition advice, finding foods that suit you and ways to improve your gut health is what I love to do. I have a practice in Balgowlah, Sydney and see patients locally or by skype. Let me help you live your best life. Check out my website www.kryslojeknutrition.com and sign up to my newsletter to receive a free healthy pantry list.
Krys Lojek, Nutritionist
Disclaimer: All material is provided for your information. It is not intended to replace consultation with a trusted health professional. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article. Although I am a trained and registered nutritionist and love researching I do not have access to your personal medical history so all advice contained here is general, please contact your chosen health professional for more individual and specific advice.
Turmeric lattes are all the rage at the moment, but the best thing is that you don't have to go to a cafe to enjoy the experience. You can make one at home with your homemade nut milk I have experimented with a few recipes and also some premixes and I have to say that this one trumps them all. This takes minutes to make for a relaxing and healing drink.
Recipe is from The Wellness Mama
A little about Turmeric:
Research has shown that high doses close to 500 – 2000mg of curcumin can do the following:
Here is the recipe:
I am Krys Lojek, Nutritionist at 2/294 Sydney Rd, Balgowlah. I see people from all walks of life and help them to learn about great food choices that will help them feel and think so much better. Check out www.kryslojeknutrition.com or you can book an appointment with me using this link https://calendly.com/krys-kln
Krys Lojek, Nutritionist
Over the past two weeks I have had the opportunity to speak to year 11 and 12 at my kids local school. I was given 15 minutes with each class to try and engage them in the fascinating topic of nutrition and focus. That topic could be enough to put any child at 8.40 am asleep mid sentence. So I had to be succinct and focus on one topic that would resonate with the kids. The topic that I chose was SUGAR.
So for a blog this month, I thought that I would summarize what I discussed and perhaps you could chat with your child about how important it is to eat the least refined foods to maintain focus and concentration at school.
Let me explore a bad day. You have started breakfast on the wrong foot, eating over 17 teaspoons of sugar by having so called healthy foods. Honey crusted granola, strawberry yoghurt and a huge glass of orange juice. You feel fab, your energy levels are at a high, then during first lesson you struggle to keep your eyes open, your beginning to tune out and get a little restless. The hunger pains start happening and you just want to leave the classroom and get something to eat and it won't be anything healthy either...just something quick. Have you felt like that before? This spiral of eating will have you going on a blood sugar roller coaster ride all day, just because of breakfast.
The World Health Organisation recommends that we should eat no more that 6 teaspoons of added sugar for health. To keep within these recommendations it is important to minimise our intake of any refined foods. As I see it, any foods that have been processed have been stripped of fibre. This is significant as the amount of fibre within foods directly correlates with the length of time sugars are absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream. Think white bread, muffins, cakes, chocolates etc etc They are broken down very quickly in the gut and absorbed in the bloodstream at a rapid rate which causes the blood sugar to rise significantly. This is the beginning of the blood sugar roller coaster ride. We feel okay for a short while then our blood sugars come crashing down and we start getting hunger pains and so begins the unfocused, restless, tiring day.
The sugar roller coaster ride. Green line indicates a well balanced diet, and the red line is when our blood sugar spirals out of control from eating refined, processed foods
So what makes a good food choice?
Firstly, there are some packaged foods that are a good food choice. It is about reading labels and comparing brands. The same cracker can differ in ingredients significantly between brands, so don’t rely on price point always read the labels. I like to use the example of chips. I am not saying that chips are good for you, but if you are going to eat them, then pick the ones with the least amount of ingredients. Avoid those bags of sensationally tasting savoury mac and cheese chips with 101 ingredients and choose a plain salted version, or even salt and vinegar or chilli chips.
Biscuits are another tempter. There are always biscuits around and if it is that time of day where you can't resist go for the plainest ones. How easy is it to consume a whole packet of Tim Tams as compared to Milk Coffee biscuits. Choose the one with the least ingredients…..does that make sense?
Breakfast cereals are a big one as well. Avoid every one of them except weetbix and plain untoasted muesli made with rolled oats which both have the least amount of added sugar. Apple juice concentrate is a popular ingredient used in cereals, it is still a sugar and will put you on that roller coaster ride. Golden rule is to always check ingredient labels. If sugar is in the first three ingredients, or there are words or numbers that you have no clue what they are then choose something different.
Did you know there are 40 + names for sugar on ingredient labels.
Here they are.
Take this sugar quiz and see how many teaspoons of sugar are in foods that many of us eat everyday.
What should I be eating then…
Think unprocessed foods. When your palate is used to the sugary taste then it may be hard to get used to the texture and flavour of whole foods. But, it will be worth it. Good foods make you feel fantastic!
Choose seasonal, colourful vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, rolled oats, quinoa, buckwheat, locally caught fish, pasture fed meats and poultry, legumes, full fat dairy, olive oil, nuts and seeds are all part of a healthy nourishing diet. Having these foods everyday will support your brain and body during the gruelling HSC years.
Here are my 5 top tips:
Don’t get hooked on sugar. Keep your intake from refined foods to a minimum and if you are eating processed foods go for the plainer options. Focus on eating whole foods and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to keep you healthy and strong throughout your HSC years.
I am Krys Lojek, a nutritionist located in Balgowlah. I love helping people from all walks of life to guide them in the correct food choices to support health and healthy aging.
Like me on facebook or visit my website www.kryslojeknutrition.com and sign up to my newsletter. Appointments can be made using this link https://calendly.com/krys-kln
Krys Lojek, Nutritionist