In my previous blog, I mentioned why our gut health is so important ? In this one, I am sharing some ways to improve digestion and get your gut to function better. The more species of good bacteria in our gut, the greater the number of health benefits they contribute to .
Eat fermented foods - (go for at least one or two of different varieties everyday). Some examples of fermented foods are yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and tempeh. Many of these are rich in lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, both very beneficial for our overall health. Yogurt is my all time favorite. I culture it at home from organic milk and organic yogurt culture. Buttermilk with a sprinkle of cumin powder and pink himalayan salt is greatly enjoyed by family during summer! Many store bought yogurts, especially flavored ones contain high levels of sugar. Try to stay away from those. Sauerkraut is another good probiotic food . Its easy to make at home too. If you go ahead with a store bought one, make sure it is a good quality one preferably from a health food store. Kombucha is yum and I mostly buy an organic one with ginger. Try different fermented foods and see which one work best for you. Keep it simple - choose your favorite !
Take a probiotic supplement - Fermented foods are good and the most natural way to get the good bacteria. However, it is always good to supplement with a high quality probiotic supplement if you have weak digestion, are travelling, recovering from a cold /flu or there are times when you are not eating enough fermented foods for some reason. Choose a probiotic supplement that has different strains of bacteria. I have used and recommend Primal Defense Ultra Ultimate Probiotic Dietary Supplement .
Hot meals and Warm tea -is my mantra for better digestion and gut function. This lifestyle hack might sound ridiculous especially as we live in a culture where salad is considered best to lose weight and improve health. Actually, avoiding raw food when improving gut health does more good than harm. Steam, saute or stir fry but give your digestion that extra boost. Warm food also helps increase blood flow to your gut to aid digestion. Cooking in ghee is always recommended as ghee improves you agni (digestive fire). Drink water slightly warmer than room temperature. Sip in your choice of warm herbal teas throughout the day and notice how much better you digest.
Stress Less - This is a difficult one for many in our absolutely busy lives. How you manage stress therefore matters most. Our stress hormones do influence how our gut bacteria affect the hormones produced and neurotransmitters that communicate with the brain. Long term stress has been linked to IBS, food allergies, stomach ulcers and even gastroesophagal re flux disease (GERD). Re-energize yourself ona regular basis by practicing yoga, breathing techniques, meditating, relaxing bath salts, massage and using calming essential oils.
Eat a plant based diet - . When I say plant based, I mean real food like vegetables, fruits, whole grains :). Several studies have shown that eating a vegetarian diet benefits the gut microbiota. Eating largely animal based foods increases certain types of harmful intestinal bacteria. Give your body less animal food or start by going meat free one day a week.
What are your favorite fermented foods ? Commit to improving your gut health a little bit everyday!