Holistic Living

Keeping your Gut Happy and Healthy

Most of us, including our little ones have been there… tummy aches, occasional constipation, low immunity, the occasional UTI (which means Urinary Tract infection just in case you’re lucky enough and have never experienced it) or getting prescriptions for antibiotics from your GP. All these things and actually many more have one thing in common. They could be a sign that our gut isn’t entirely happy and healthy. Thankfully there are a few things we can do to improve our gut health.

Are you ready for it?

Let’s start with the basics …

Did you know that 80% of your immune system sits in your gut?

To be healthy and thrive our bodies need a well balanced community of bacteria in our gut to ensure our digestive tract is working smoothly. Unfortunately our gut flora is often unbalanced and disturbed by many external factors like an unhealthy diet, stress, over-the-counter medications and nowadays also overuse of antibiotics. Does the sentence “Just to be sure, I’ll also prescribe you a course of antibiotics..” sound familiar to you? Antibiotics are great if really needed, but unfortunately they are prescribed far too often in the last few decades (sometimes even prescribed for a virus without even having a bacterial infection). That means the antibiotics don’t serve any purpose at all, all they do is damage your gut by killing all the bacteria in your body, including all the good ones.

Pro – biotics = For Life

Apart from keeping an eye on a wholesome, healthy diet full of veggies, fruit and whole grains, watching your stress levels and getting enough movement there is also one other easy thing we can do to help our gut: we can support it with probiotics which do such wonderful work inside of us!

Here’s a few points on how they help …

  • Strengthen your immune system (remember, your immune systems sits in your gut!)
  • Help with digestive issues (e.g. constipation, diarrhoea, IBS)
  • Improve nutrient absorption
  • Help you normalise skin issues
  • Improve oral issues (like sore throats, bad breath)
  • Help with allergies (eg lactose digestion)
  • Decrease the risk to catch fungal and yeast infections (e.g. UTIs, candida)
  • Lower cholesterol and much, much more.

It is very easy to get probiotics by adding fermented foods to your diet, ideally choose organic whenever you can. The bigger the variety of fermented foods, the bigger the variety of helpful microorganisms in your gut. Some examples rich in probiotics include plain yoghurt, buttermilk, kefir (all of them are available from cow’s milk but there are also dairy free alternatives like coconut kefir if you prefer a vegan option), miso, tempeh, raw vinegars, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi (I’ll share my all time favourite Kimchi recipe with you further down).

Of course you can also add probiotics via supplements from your local health food store. I personally like to buy mine and my daughter’s (there are also probiotics for kids) from Casa Natura in Sliema where I also buy our Kombucha and a wonderful vegan Coconut Kefir. Adding probiotics to my little one’s diet was a life saver when she struggled with constipation and it’s great for her immune system too!

As a next step to help the probiotics in your body thrive you can “fertilise” and feed them with so called prebiotics which are certain carbohydrate fibers that stimulate the growth of the good intestinal bacteria. They can also be easily found in fruits and vegetables like bananas, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, peas, whole grains, legumes, honey or green tea.

Finally, let me share our favourite Kimchi recipe, adapted from the wonderful food blogger Tess Wards. It’s from her cookbook The Naked Chef which I’ve been loving for many years.

KIMCHI Recipe Creator : Tess Ward / Book Credit: The Naked Chef / Photography: Columbus Leth

This is a traditional spicy and sour condiment made from fermented cabbage and a variety of punchy, strong spices. It is also known for being beneficial for digestive health, and full of vitamins A, B and C. I use it alongside sesame dressed noodles or simply mixed through steamed brown rice, with some soy sauce and a fried egg.

(Makes a 2l jar)

Ingredients

  • 1 large cabbage of your choice (I use ordinary white but you can also use Chinese cabbage)
  • 100g of coarse sea salt
  • 4l of water
  • 1 head of garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled & finely chopped
  • 60ml fish sauce
  • 60g chillies (fresh or powder)
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Optional: I also like to add some grated carrots or apple

Method

Wash cabbage and remove the stem. Cut in fine slices.

Use a large container to dissolve salt in water and submerge cabbage. Put a plate on top to keep it submerged and leave to stand for 2 hours.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, drain cabbage, rinse it and squeeze it dry.

Mix it all up with your hands and pack into a big glass jar, cover it tightly.

Leave it at room temperature for 1-2 days.

Check your kimchi: if it’s bubbling, it’s fermenting and ready to be eaten. If not, let it stand a little longer. When you like the taste, keep it in the fridge so the fermentation process stops.

TIP: Always push down the Kimchi so it’s submerged in brine to keep it fresh for longer!

I hope you found this article helpful and that it inspired you to add some probiotic goodness to yourself & your family! If you feel you need my support and guidance (as a Holistic Health Coach) on your journey of health & wellbeing feel free to reach out to me anytime via my Facebook, Instagram or simply via email via nadisunshine@me.com

If you’re expecting, like I am, also check out my other project Mindful Mum under which name I run Pre and Postnatal Partner Workshops, the next one takes place on March 17.

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