Updated: Feb 19
The road to health is paved with good intestines.
Food influences the diversity of good and bad bacteria living in your gut, which in turn influences your wellbeing. Known as a "microbiome", this culture of microscopic organisms plays a role in everything: mood, brain, weight, immunity, skin, organs, inflammation, digestion, hormones and much more.
Enhancing overall health begins with a thriving microbiome. Prebiotics and probiotics have gained a lot of attention for improving gut health and recently, postbiotics have emerged as another group of beneficial compounds. Since the definitions can be confusing, here’s a brief overview of each type:
Probiotics are the “friendly” bacteria living inside your gut that, by converting fiber into beneficial compounds, support your health (1Trusted Source).
Prebiotics are a group of nutrients, mainly fiber, that feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut (2Trusted Source).
Postbiotics are the bioactive compounds the probiotic bacteria produce when they consume prebiotics that may support your immune system.
Although expensive supplements can give your gut a boost, you can actually change your internal ecosystem simply by adapting your lifestyle naturally. The gut microbiota is very dynamic and can respond and modify within 48 hours. But the benefits can disappear just as quickly so you need to keep up those healthful habits to improve your health in the long-term.
7 Steps to Foster Gut Health:
WATER: Why - Water assists with removing toxins and waste matter from the body and nourishing the mucosal lining of the gut.
What - Aim to drink half an ounce of water per pound of body weight each day but not
MOVEMENT: Why - Physical activity invigorates blood flow throughout the body stimulating bowel excretion and supporting digestion.
What - Try to move 30 minutes every day.
FOOD: Why - Food you eat either heals or harms your digestive system. The trillions of bacteria and fungi living in your gut are relying on your nutrition choices.
What - Eat a variety of whole foods including healthy fats, legumes, fruit, fermented foods, whole grains, lean meat and lots of vegetables.
SLEEP: Why - Poor sleep upsets your gut microbiome resulting in daytime fatigue that leaves you craving sugar and caffeine.
What - Do whatever it takes for you to go to bed and wake up around the same time seven days a week.
STRESS MANAGEMENT: Why - There are more nerve endings in the gut than in the central nervous system! Any amount of stress compromises the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
What - Practice stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, journalling, breathwork, walking, laughter, physical social connection and crafting, to name a few.
EATING HABITS: Why - Beyond what you eat, good digestion also depends on how you eat.
What - Practice mindful eating by slowing down and focusing on thoroughly chewing, tasting and savouring each bite of food.
LIFESTYLE: Why - Alcohol, smoking, exposure to harsh chemicals and antibiotic overuse are toxic to the gut flora.
What - Eliminate or reduce the amount and/or frequency of these practices.
There's no question for me; when I take care of my microbiome, allergy and eczema symptoms lessen. Two specific ingredients in processed foods to be aware of that sabotage good gut bacteria are glyphosate and synthetic emulsifiers.
Emulsifiers have been shown to decrease the diversity of the gut microbiome, which increases the risk of obesity and chronic illnesses, like inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers conclude that the decreased diversity is the result of the damage to the important mucosal layer that lines the intestinal cell wall and creates a stable environment for helpful bacteria to thrive. Leaky gut syndrome, as its name suggests, is a digestive condition that occurs when toxins permeate through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream and drive inflammation and autoimmunity.
Store-bought prepared foods that usually contain emulsifiers are condiments, salad dressings, mayonnaise, chocolate milk, cottage cheese, cream, icecream, kefir, almond, rice and soy milk, non dairy frozen desserts, pickles, deli meats and baked goods.
Common emulsifiers to avoid show up in the ingredient list as:
Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC)
Polysorbate 80 (P80)
Like most chemicals applied to plants during growing, glyphosate will never appear on the list of ingredients. Learn more about it in our blog "Separating the wheat from the chaff."
Go with your gut and make a commitment to more vegetables more often. Supporting this goal could look like keeping at-the-ready vegetables and dip for snacking and making plant foods a mainstay at all meals. It's easy to see a green shake for breakfast and salads for lunch and sides. But can you imagine that roast vegetables and smashed potatoes are just as happy on your breakfast and lunch plate as they are your dinner plate?
Qspice is a kickstarter to making your own salad dressings, then homemade mayonnaise and dips. Our hundreds of delicious recipes in the cookery call for only fresh, real ingredients but you can use Qspice anywhere from the kitchen to the table to bring out the goodness of food!