When it comes to taking care of your health, it all boils down to how well you support your digestive tract. Did you know that your digestive tract makes up 80% of your immune system? While your stomach provides the majority of the immunity support due to its high acidity content. Your stomach is able to eliminate the mass majority of any unwanted intruders. However, your gut microbiome depends on the support of good bacteria to help aid in digesting nutrients. Every part of your digestive tract is designed to break foods down as much as possible. At each stage of your digestive tract, the elements your body breaks off become nutrients that are rerouted to support your body’s basic needs and functions. Your gut microbiome is where the real work happens. There is a limit to how much your body is able to do on its own.
It relies on the assistance of a variety of bacteria to break the bulk of your nutrients down. Different bacteria are able to break down different foods for your body to access. This is why it is imperative to your health that you have a variety of good bacteria and provide them with the nutrients they need to thrive. Probiotics are becoming more and more commonly discussed in daily conversations. However, probiotics are useless if you don’t prep their environment with the proper nutrients. Prebiotics help set the stage for ideal bacteria to flourish which prevents the invasion of unwanted “bad” bacteria from setting up shop. Once you have established an ideal foundation for the good bacteria to live in, you want to onboard a variety of good bacteria, but don’t forget to provide postbiotics that ensure your good bacteria continue to thrive.
Natural Probiotics to Support Gut Microbiome
Probiotics are essential for helping our bodies digest food. There is a limit to how much our stomach acid, teeth, and bile can do when it comes to breaking down the foods we eat. Unfortunately, the mass majority of nutrients our bodies need is unable to be broken down without the assistance of “good bacteria”. However, it can be difficult to provide our bodies with the correct bacteria we need in order for our bodies to thrive. This is why it is imperative that we do everything we can to help support our bodies. When choosing a probiotic you want to make sure there are at least 12 different strains of bacteria with several million per unit. Doing so ensures that any open areas within our gut microbiome will be inhabited by bacteria that will help our bodies thrive. There are also foods we can increase to naturally provide the right bacteria for our health. The following is a list of foods with natural probiotics in them.
Made from bacterial fermentation of milk, it is this very process that provides it with beneficial properties. Probiotics like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are used to make yogurt. Consuming yogurt every day keeps our bowel movements regular and improves our body’s flora. It kills harmful bacteria in the gut and makes our digestive system healthier. Yogurt effectively fights against gastrointestinal infections, and respiratory issues like the common cold, flu, and even cancer. Magnesium, selenium, and zinc in yogurt also improve immunity. Regular consumption of homemade, unsweetened yogurt helps to regulate blood sugar levels and is very good for people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Yogurt is a rich source of calcium, thus making it ideal for improving bone health. Regular consumption of yogurt, preserves bone mass and strength, thus reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
The high protein content of yogurt makes us feel full, reduces our appetite, and thus decreases our calorie consumption. Probiotics in yogurt help in reducing anxiety and stress, thus making patients with depression feel better. Consuming yogurt reduces the number of antibodies produced by our immune system in response to any kind of allergy. Probiotics present in yogurt are responsible for this action. Daily consumption of yogurt reduces inflammation in the body. Inflammation is responsible for most autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis.
Eating kimchi can help improve the balance of bacteria in your gut, ultimately benefiting your gut health by aiding smooth digestion. The probiotics in kimchi are beneficial for immune function because the majority of immune function takes place in the gut. When your gut microbiome is in good shape, your immune system is better able to function optimally. People who eat kimchi regularly tend to have lower levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. In addition to supporting healthy cholesterol, kimchi can also do your heart good by upping the levels of antioxidants in your body, thanks to ingredients like ginger and hot red peppers. One animal study published in the Journal of Microbiology found that a specific strain of probiotics found in kimchi reduced several markers for inflammation in the gut.
Another indirect result of a healthy gut: is a better-working brain. This gut-brain connection requires a healthy gut to function properly. And because kimchi is nourishing your gut, it’s therefore a brain-booster, too. The yeast infections you might be most familiar with occur when the Candida fungus (which is normally harmless) multiplies rapidly inside the vagina. However, certain studies have suggested that certain strains of the good bacteria found in kimchi have the antimicrobial properties to actually fight yeast infection-causing fungus, thereby reducing the likelihood of developing the infection. A small study conducted with pre-diabetic participants revealed better glucose tolerance after the study participants ate a fermented kimchi-containing diet for a minimum of 8 weeks. This suggests that kimchi can actually help decrease insulin resistance and improve glucose metabolism.
The fermentation process involved in the production of miso promotes levels of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics. These bacteria are thought to help a range of health issues, including digestion and gut health. By incorporating a variety of fermented foods in your diet, you may help promote levels of beneficial bacteria and enzymes in the gut, which may in turn improve the balance of gut microbes as well as the function of your digestive system. Miso is also a rich source of protective antioxidants which may further support its protective role in this area. Being a rich source of probiotic bacteria, miso may support immune function and help fight infections. Regularly consuming a variety of fermented foods like miso may minimize your need for antibiotic therapy when fighting infection. Recent advances in our knowledge and understanding of gut-brain connectivity support the role of diet and in particular the consumption of fermented foods in cognitive health, including anxiety and depression.
One of the most valuable nutritional benefits of pickles is their abundance of antioxidants. Pickles are great sources of both vitamin K and vitamin A, two essential antioxidants that are found in many fruits and veggies. These natural antioxidants fight free radicals, which are chemicals in the body that can cause cancer and heart disease. Like many fruits and veggies, pickles are a great source of vitamins. Pickles offer a bevy of vitamins, including A and K. In addition to being healthful for their antioxidant content, vitamins are essential for many body functions, along with boosting the immune system. Pickle juice is a well-known treatment for muscle cramps among athletes, so this is also a health benefit of pickles. Studies have shown that drinking pickle juice is more effective at relieving cramps than drinking the same amount of water. Another dietary benefit of pickles is their ability to help with weight loss.
This health benefit is also likely due to the vinegar used in the pickling process. Vinegar has been shown to increase fat burning and reduce appetite, so even those who dislike the sour taste of pickles have been known to eat them for weight loss. As we mentioned before, pickles are also proven to regulate your blood sugar due to their vinegar content! Vinegar has been shown to regulate the blood sugar levels of those with type 2 diabetes. According to this 2013 study, those who consumed vinegar with their meals helped to prevent blood glucose spikes. Another health benefit of pickles relevant to athletes is their ability to help with electrolyte levels. Pickles and their juice have lots of potassium, which is an electrolyte lost in sweat. Not only does potassium help with electrolyte levels, but potassium-rich foods are also excellent for lowering high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension.
Studies show that fermented cabbage has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties because of the presence of phytochemicals. Sauerkraut sits in its own fermented juices and is preserved with enzymes, vitamins, and beneficial bacteria without the loss of any of them through a heat process. To get the gut benefits from sauerkraut, you should eat about a tablespoon daily. This is easily done by adding a small portion to your plate at dinner time. Doing so is known to aid in digestion and prevent constipation. Sauerkraut is rich in probiotics, as I mentioned. This is what aids the digestive process and maintains healthy gut flora. The fiber is also beneficial, giving your digestive tract a workout. Fermented cabbage is easier to digest than raw cabbage, and may reduce digestive symptoms like bloating and gas.
Because fermented cabbage is high in folate, it provides multiple benefits. Hearing loss related to age and gum disease may be prevented. And, the risk of heart disease and stroke is lowered. Folate is needed for cell division and DNA production, too. The brain has a close connection with the gut. It’s all about the flora, and its relation to brain health and even the reduction of stress. Anxiety and depression may be reduced by the increase of mood-related minerals like zinc and magnesium. DNA damage, excessive cell formation, and cell mutations may be reduced with the consumption of foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir. Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut may have benefits for the bones. A controlled study showed that Vitamin K, important to bone quality, is a key component in many green vegetables, sauerkraut included.
BBQ Salmon Bowls with Mango Salsa
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Serves 2-4
- 1-2 lbs fresh salmon
- 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 mangos diced
- 1 avocado diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro minced
- 2 jalapenos minced
- 1/4 cup red onion minced
- 1/2 lime juiced and zest
- drizzle of honey
- salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Mix the spices for the salmon. Oil the salmon and season. Place the salmon skin-side down and bake for 6-12 minutes. Combine all the ingredients for the salsa and prep coconut rice to go with the salmon. Assemble the bowls with rice, and salmon, and top with salsa.
Coconut Pineapple Margaritas
Gluten-free, Vegan, Serves 2
- 2 cups frozen pineapple cubbed
- 8 oz Margarita mix
- 4 oz tequila
- 8 oz coconut milk full fat
- 1 oz triple sec
- 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
- Lime and pineapple wedges to serve
Into a blender combine all ingredients except sugar and fresh lime and pineapple wedges. Take the lime wedge and rim the glasses before dipping the glass into the sugar. Pour the mixture into glasses and decorate with lime and pineapple wedges.
Gluten-free, Vegan, Serves 6
- 1 cup coconut whipped cream
- 3.4 oz vanilla instant pudding
- 20 oz can crushed pineapple in juice drained
- 3 Tbsp coconut milk full-fat
Into a bowl mix the pineapple, pudding, and milk. Once completely mixed gently fold in the whipped cream and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Serves 4
- 32 oz Vegan Greek Yogurt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla
- 1 1/2 oz cheesecake instant pudding mix
- 2 pounds strawberries diced
- 3 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Into a bowl combine yogurt and pudding mixture, mix until well combined. Take half of the strawberries and blend them together with the lemon juice and chia seeds. Into your serving dishes of choice start to layer your parfaits. Scoop out 1-2 Tbsp of yogurt, followed by a layer of berries, the chia jam, another layer of yogurt, and so forth. Top with coconut whipped cream and additional strawberries. Serve chilled. These are great to make a head and have for a quick high protein breakfast.
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Keeping your body free of toxins and free radicals is necessary to maintain a healthy life and a healthy mind. There are tons of foods you can add to your regular diet to help your body with its critical detoxifying processes. If you are looking for a safe and all-natural way to detox your body at home be sure to check out my Balancing Abundance Program. Because detoxing is so important and realistically everyone should be doing it on at least a seasonal basis I have taken the time to put together a program to help you do just that. Here’s the thing, I know working with me one-on-one can seem difficult to get into (due to limited space) and I wanted to be able to give everyone an additional solution that has no limits. You deserve to be happy, healthy, and successful at everything you do so here are some recipes to help set you up for success!
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