Why you should know about gut health

food gut health health holistic nutrition holistic nutritionist probiotics vegetables

taraWe’ve been seeing the words ‘gut health’ in the media and our social feeds a lot lately, which made us wonder what the heck it is. We enlisted the help of Holistic Nutritionist Tara Miller to help us get to the bottom of these buzzy words and what they mean for our wellbeing. Based in Toronto, Tara does not believe in overcomplicating nutrition, fad diets or a one-size-fits-all approach, rather she is a firm proponent of eating fresh whole foods, cooking with real ingredients, keeping chemicals out of daily care products and doing what make you happy as often as you can. What is gut health? Why is it important? Gut health refers to the health of our digestive system.  Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” If we are not digesting and therefore absorbing our food properly, we are not getting all the nutrients we need for disease prevention, energy, mental health, glowing skin, great sleep and so on! What are negative effects of an unhealthy gut? What foods/causes can be attributed to this? Some (but not limited to) effects of an unhealthy gut can include: acne, headaches, brain fog, weight loss/gain, depression, anxiety, dry skin, low energy, poor sleep, food sensitivities, digestive distress like gas, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea. I could go on! Foods that are damaging to the gut vary by individual, however there are certain types that are universally not so supportive of great digestive health, including processed foods, refined sugar, artificial foods and processed fats like trans fats. Also, if we are sensitive to a particular food, it can cause inflammation and damage over time. These foods are different for everyone, but common offenders include dairy, gluten, eggs, soy and corn.  If you are experiencing gut issues, I always recommend starting by eliminating the suspected culprits and seeing if your symptoms improve. What foods should be consumed to maintain a healthy gut? Green veggies are always at the top of my list.  Although if you are experiencing gas and bloating, try consuming them cooked, rather than raw.  All other veggies are great too, along with clean, whole, unprocessed foods.  Also, foods that are fermented have naturally occurring probiotics (the good bacteria responsible for a healthy gut). They are thought to play many important roles within our body—including strengthening our immunity, protecting us from pathogens, regulating digestion and contributing to healthy, clear skin. These include kimchi, raw sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and miso. Related posts One family's year without sugar  10 herb-fresh recipes for this season's great greens   Main image courtesy of Kyle and Vanessa.

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  • brikaadmin on

    Hi Robin,
    Thanks for checking in on this! I found this WebMD article helpful regarding the distinction between kefir and dairy. It turns out that kefir is a lot like yogurt:

    “Like yogurt, which is made from fermented milk, kefir contains lots of bacteria that aid lactose digestion. Yogurt doesn’t produce symptoms of lactose intolerance because these bacteria help digest the lactose.”

    Here’s the rest of the post: http://www.webmd.com/allergies/news/20030530/kefir-helps-lactose-intolerance

    Sam, BRIKA’s Digital Editor

  • brikaadmin on

    Hi Amanda,
    Thanks so much for sharing this useful piece of information! Being relatively new to the world of probiotics myself, this is certainly valuable learning for me (and I’m sure to others reading this). I will keep this in mind in the future, and in the meantime, continue to eat kimchi to my heart’s content :)

    - Sam, BRIKA’s Digital Editor

  • Amanda on

    Just want to clarify that all fermented foods are not probiotic! Probiotic bacteria are found in many fermented foods (and are actually the organisms that do the fermenting) but not all fermented foods are bacterial ferments and not all bacterial ferments are probiotic. Fermented vegetables are probiotic, as is yogurt/kefir, but many other ferments are not typically probiotic.

  • Robin Deaux on

    The list of common offenders causing inflammation is: “dairy, gluten, eggs, soy and corn”. And the list which helps are: kimchi, raw sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and miso. But isn’t kefir considered dairy?

    Thank you

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