You’ve speculated your gut health is “off”—or at least all the buzz about “gut health” has got you thinking:
How is my gut health?
Chances are if you are an American, your gut has seen better days. Raised on processed and packaged foods, frozen foods, fast foods, coupled with poor digestive practices (eating fast, not chewing thoroughly, not drinking enough water) and/or stress alone is enough to challenge the health of our gut.
Some nearly 75% of all Americans, in fact, are living with GI distress and, if you are one of them, here are 11 foods to incorporate into your daily diet for some tummy-love.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar & Lemon Juice. Stomach acid is GOOD for you. We need it to digest our food appropriately. Unfortunately a vast majority of us are hypo-chloridric (meaning: low in stomach acid). Low stomach acid slows down the process of digestion or inhibits the appropriate, complete breakdown of food when it hits the first organ in the line of digestion, passing along undigested food to the small intestine and beyond. Before each meal, try a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a shot of water or squeeze some lemon juice in warm water. You can also take an HCL supplement (hydrochloric acid) like this one.
Ginger. Ginger contains potent healing properties that help to reduce the irritation and inflammation caused in the intestinal lining due to leaky gut. Reach for some Ginger Tea at night before bed or between meals.
Garlic. Bring on the garlic breath! Garlic helps to remove excess yeast (a direct cause of leaky gut) from the stomach and intestines. Fresh garlic is ideal. Add a couple cloves to a dish you cook, throw into a salad or soup, juice it, mix with some grass-fed butter and spread on seed crackers (like Livin’ Spoonful brand), or crush into some applesauce, raw honey, pure orange juice or as a “shot” with some coconut oil.
Egg Yolks, Grassfed-butter, Liver & Organ Meats (Vitamin-A Rich Foods). Vitamin A stimulates the secretion of gastric juices needed for protein digestion. Protein, minerals and water soluble vitamins cannot be utilized by the body without vitamin A from animal sources.
Fermented Cod Liver Oil & Krill Oil. Healthy fatty acids lubricate your digestive system to keep things moving right along, and empower your cells to become stronger (your cells’ membranes are composed of fatty acids, and thus, need a boost from fat to stay strong!). Essential Fatty Acids, from Cod Liver Oil and Krill Oil, help quell inflammation to an irritated gut lining. I prefer Cod Liver Oil and Krill Oil over standard Fish Oil—as there is a far wider discrepancy in quality amongst fish oils (as they go rancid easily). Check out Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil or Natural Stacks’ Krill Oil.
Cooked Greens. One word: Fiber. Fiber helps to move the food faster through the digestive tract, preventing blockages that could lead to leaky gut. Fiber helps your body to naturally cleanse the colon and get rid of any harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract, ultimately helping eradicate harmful pathogens from destroying the intestinal linings. Foods rich in fiber also provide the body with essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes to combat the bad bacteria present in the gut. Reach for greens, like spinach, chard, kale, power-greens—and cook ‘em down in some coconut oil or ghee. Cooked greens (as opposed to raw) are more easily digested by your gut, as your body does not have to work quite as hard to break them down. In addition, Green Juice can provide your body with some easily digested greens (Opt for Lemon or Grapefruit as ‘fruit’, paired with the green powerhouse—chard, spinach, celery, etc.).
Sushi/Sashimi. Raw foods, like sashimi contain enzymes. Enzymes in food include proteases for digesting proteins, lipases for digesting fats, amylases for digesting carbohydrates. Enzymes in our saliva (from thorough chewing), and in our food, also help with the process of digestion immensely. Note: if you are going to eat sushi, rice may not be your best friend for your gut (it’s tough to breakdown). Opt for veggie-based rolls (cucumber or seaweed wrapped around your fish) OR have fun making your own version with cauliflower rice. Sashimi atop greens or eaten alone (add some avocado and/or a sweet potato for some heartiness) can also be a great option.
Try this recipe with a few of my favorite twists and add-ins:
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1-2 TBSP coconut aminos
- 8 nori (sheets of seaweed)
- 8-10 ounces sashimi grade salmon or tuna, cut into thin strips the same length as nori
- 1 TBSP water
Fillings (You choose):
- Peeled veggies (in thin stripes: 1 medium carrot, zucchini, squash)
- 1/2 medium cucumber
- 1 avocado
- 1 baked Japanese Sweet potato or Garnet Sweet potato
- crushed red pepper flakes
- Primal Kitchen Mayo
Rice: Melt coconut oil over medium heat. Slice cauliflower into florets, then add to food processer. Pulse about 10 times or until the cauliflower pieces are small and fluffy (like rice!) Dump into skillet and cook, stirring and tossing, until it starts to turn golden. Remove cooked cauliflower rice to a bowl. Add coconut aminos and stir.
Rolls: Place one nori sheet on top of a sushi rolling mat. Using a spatula, scoop about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of riced cauliflower on the nori and spread it onto sheet. Place fish and other fillings on top of the cauliflower. Put a splash of water into a small bowl and place near your rolling mat. Roll up the sheet with everything inside. Seal the roll with a brush of water. Move the roll to a cutting board and slice into six pieces. Top with spicy mayo or red pepper flakes or dip in coconut aminos.
Bone Broth. It’s “all the rage” for a reason. Broth is loaded with the acids (namely proline and glycine) that help regulate digestion, reduce inflammation, and promote healing all over the body. You can buy or make broth from the bones of chicken, turkey, duck, beef, lamb pork and/or fish. (Picnik in Austin sells broth by the cup or pint; Wheatsville also carries in the frozen food section; and you can find it online at BareBones.com, Kettle & Fire, AuBonBroth, BonaFide Provisions and The Brothery). Note: The type in the box on the shelves by the chicken stocks at the store (like this one by Pacific Foods) is NOT the same. You can also make your own! (see below).
Easy Bone Broth
- 16 cups water (4 quarts, or 1 gallon)
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
- 1 large yellow onion, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped into coins
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 2-3 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
- 2-4 lbs. meat or poultry bones (chicken, beef, fish, etc.—ask your butcher)
Directions. Place all ingredients in a large slowcooker on the stove, on high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the setting to low for 12-24 hours. Strain the stock through a coffee filter or mesh strainer into a large bowl, and discard waste. Optional: You may also cook broth in a crockpot—cook for at least 24-48 hours on low setting. Discard waste the same way.
Sauerkraut. Best. Fermented. Food. Ever. Eat 2-4 TBSP two to three times per day, around meals preferably, to give your gut some extra TLC. I used to hear the word “fermented” and it completely intimidated me! But you can buy sauerkraut already made without fermenting it yourself. What the heck does “fermented” mean anyway? Essentially, it’s a preservation process in which foods, like cabbage, beets, carrots, yogurt, tea and cucumbers, have been left to sit and steep until their sugars and carbs become bacteria-boosting agents. Fermented foods are known as “probiotic powerhouses”—boosting good bacteria in your gut to help heal leaky gut! I have been digging Farmhouse Culture’s Sauerkraut from Whole Foods lately, and Bubbie’s is not too shabby either.
Pure, Mineral-Rich Water. You know water is good for you. You know you need half your bodyweight in ounces. But are you getting QUALITY water? The best water to drink is naturally clean, pure and full of naturally occurring minerals:
- Well water comes from a hole drilled in the ground that taps into a water source. A pump brings it to the surface. If you do not have access to city water, then you would need a well.
- Natural spring water flows up from a natural spring and is bottled at the source.
- Artesian or spring waters come from a natural source but are bottled off-site and are processed and purified.
- Mineral water (could be natural spring water or artesian water), comes from an underground source, and contains at least 250 parts per million of dissolved solids, including minerals and trace elements.
Full-Fat Yogurt (Plain) & Colostrum.Yogurt is a healing food included in my traditional cultures throughout history. Yogurt with “Live & Active Cultures” as the only ingredient seal guarantees 100 million probiotic cultures per gram. However, THE BEST VERSION IS HOMEMADE (The good bacteria deteriorate in yogurt as it is stored, so it is best to make your own and to eat it fresh). Here is a simple recipe:
Fermented Yogurt Or Nom Nom Paleo’s Probiotic Coconut Yogurt.
In addition, Colostrum is a powerful gut healer. Also known as “pre-milk”, colostrum is produced by all mammals (including humans) during late pregnancy for their newborn to drink in the first few days of life (just before the breast milk comes in). Colostrum acts as a form of passive immunity. It provides a hefty dose of anti-bodies that help to build a newborn’s immunity. It also contains antimicrobials and several growth factors (stimulating the gut lining to heal). When we consume colostrum as adults, we reap the same benefits! We get a ton of anti-bodies that FIGHT bad bacteria and arm your gut immunity. You can find colostrum in capsule form, as well as powder or ‘fresh’ (liquid like milk). (Although it is HARD to find in the liquid form in stores, as many grocers prevent selling ‘raw’ milk in the first place) The company, Mt. Capra, makes an awesome supplement here AND here is an amazing “pudding” like recipe you can make if you come across the fresh version (compliments of Kimmi Moake—a fellow Nutrition Therapy Practioner)
Recipe: Fresh Panna Cotta Pudding
- 1.5 cups of raw milk or, 100% full-fat grassfed goat’s milk or cow’s milk
- 1.5 cups of raw cream/ 100% grassfed full fat cream
3 cups of fresh goat’s milk colostrum
- 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey
- 1 T of grass fed gelatin (order here: Vital Proteins)
- 0.5 t of ground vanilla or one vanilla bean, scraped
- Optional add in: Probiotic capsule powder
- Place 1/2 cup of the milk in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then heat very gently over low heat just until the gelatin is dissolved. (Dip your thumb and forefinger in the warm-ish milk and rub them together. You won’t feel any granules when they are fully dissolved.)
- Meanwhile, pour the remaining milk, the cream or yogurt, and sugar in a blender. Blend until very smooth, then with the motor running, pour in the gelatin-milk mixture.
- Pour immediately into a container that can hold at least 1 quart of liquid (the shallower, the better) OR multiple small containers and place in the refrigerator. Let sit for at least two hours to firm up.
Want more insights on ways to heal your gut or improve your digestion? Connect with me for a free 30-minute consult to find out a few more hacks for your own body.