Have you ever wondered why doctors put such importance on nutrition? Now, for those of you who know me, you know that I am a firm believer in what you put into your body directly determining what you can get out of it. There is a reason for the madness I swear. When it comes to your health your digestive system is right at the root of everything. From your mood level, immunity, ability to process stress, heck even to slowing the aging process. Your digestive system helps regulate all of it. At the end of the day, your digestive system can make or break your health goals. That’s why it is imperative that we all do everything within our ability to ensure our digestive system is working to the best of its ability.
Everything Serves a Purpose
Contrary to those commercials about disinfectants a healthy body is not free of microorganisms. It is not a sterile environment meant to be kept pristine. Our bodies need a whole host of good microorganisms to function properly and stay healthy. Most of these microorganisms live in your mouth and gut, like the gut bacteria that help form vitamin K for blood clotting and wound repair. Instead of asking, “How do I get rid of all this?”, your question should be, “How can I make the bacteria thrive?”
Your Gut is KEY!
By now, if you have read through any of my blogs over the years you know just how critical your digestive system is. For example, it makes up over half of your immune system. When your stomach acidity levels drop you end up not being able to eliminate the majority of bacterial or viral invaders. Or the fact that over 70% of Serotonin and Dopamine (happiness hormones) are produced and regulated within your digestive system. Heck, even our Cortisol and Progesterone levels are regulated largely in part thanks to our digestion. Your gut matters and taking care of it is more than just feeding it the right combinations of foods.
Stress is triggered by a number of different hormones. The most abundant contributing hormone to stress being Cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands can be found on the top of each kidney. While Cortisol is mainly known for its involvement in the body’s response to stress it also serves other purposes. Cortisol assists in the regulation of blood sugar levels, balancing metabolism, reducing inflammation, and even in the formation of memories. Its natural effects on water and salt balance, make it ideal for aiding in the regulation of blood pressure. In women, Cortisol also plays a key role in the development of the fetus during pregnancy.
Your Life In Excess
What happens when we have too much Cortisol? When Cortisol levels are in excess it can have devastating effects. Some of the signs and symptoms you should keep an eye out for include: feeling overly alert yet exhausted, difficulty falling and or staying asleep, feeling anxious or nervousness, easily irritated, memory lapse, easily distracted, craving sugar, weight gain (especially around the waist), indigestion, GERD and other digestive issues, as well as skin issues such as eczema or psoriasis. The unfortunate reality is that we all display at least one, if not multiple, of these signs and symptoms. Due to our constant exposure to stress from looming deadlines, money woes, and even the foods we eat. We are in a near-constant exposure to stressful situations.
Not All Bacteria Are Bad
Our bodies need a little help every now and then, this is true. Unfortunately, when we overload our system with an excess of antibiotics we can actually do more harm than good. Antibiotics in their purest form destroy and eliminate bacteria. Now while there are millions of different types of bacteria that exist there are a large majority of bacteria that benefit our bodies. Inside of our digestive tract, you will find a constant Game of Thrones situation going on between different bacteria. There is always a dispute about territory lines and a never-ending desire to expand their current kingdom. Bacteria helps to break down our foods and makes it easier for our nutrients to be absorbed. When we take an antibiotic it is typically because a certain bacteria has started to expand too much and needs to be put in check to improve our overall health.
1. Limit your intake of Antibiotics:
While antibiotics are a medical miracle, misuse of antibiotics is detrimental to your gut bacteria and your overall health. Antibiotics are used to treat several infectious diseases but some people abuse them and start taking them for the wrong reasons, or for ailments that antibiotics can’t fix. Excessive use of antibiotics disturbs your normal gut flora and replaces the normal microorganisms in your gut with opportunistic microorganisms and resistant bacteria.
Opportunistic microorganisms can cause superimposed infections while resistant microorganisms are those bacteria with an altered structure and altered virulence. These resistant bacteria take up residence in your body and begin working against your body the next time you take an antibiotic, making these drugs less and less effective.
2. Consume Probiotics:
Probiotics help maintain a healthy level of gut flora. You can take one orally over the counter, but you can also find many foods that pack a great probiotic punch. Pickled vegetables, beans, oats, onions, and asparagus are great examples. Yogurt is also a great probiotic; it improves your gut health and can relieve symptoms of diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.
3. Consume Prebiotics:
Supplement your meal with prebiotics, which are non-digestible carbohydrates that boost the effects of the probiotics. Foods rich in prebiotics include bananas, asparagus, garlic, onions, and tomatoes.
4. Consume vegetables:
Reducing meat in your diet is a good move to healthy gut bacteria because the meat is rich in cholesterol and can put you at a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart diseases, and diabetes. Limit your meat intake, and substitute vegetables when you can. Vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants and clear your gut of toxins and noxious products. A diet rich in vegetables is beneficial for gut microorganisms. According to research,
“The microorganisms present in gut change dramatically within few days to a healthy flora once the subjects switched from a meat-rich to a plant-rich diet.”-Dr. Dee
5. REDUCE SUGAR:
Cut sugars and processed meals from your diet. Processed meals especially contain excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and artificial ingredients that are no help to your gut.
“Sugar-rich diets can cause negative changes in the gut bacteria and can lead to an intolerant digestive system.”-Dr. Dee
So be kind to your gut! Make all that healthy bacteria feel at home and they will serve you well.
Find Out What Works For You
No matter which route you choose for your all-natural antibacterial needs you want to make sure you are giving your body the rest it needs to rebuild. While your body may need help from time to time to reset or restore balance it is important to remember that you can overdo it. When taking any antibiotic you will always want to stick to the two weeks on and at least 4-6 weeks off rule. During that time off be sure to provide your body with the tools it needs to thrive. This is the time to increase probiotics, zinc, and L-glutamine. As always you should have an open dialogue with your primary doctor. If they are suggesting an antibiotic ask them if you can opt for something more natural. Remember they want you to be healthy and you have the biggest opinion when and where your health is concerned.
Pineapple Coconut Icecream
Gluten-Free Vegan Serves 6
- 4 Cups Fresh Pineapple Cubed
- 1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla
- 1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
- 2/3 Cup Coconut Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Coconut Extract
- 2 Tbsp Lime Juice
Place 3 cups of pineapple and the rest of the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth and pour into an airtight container. Gently fold in the remaining pineapple and place it into the refrigerator for 3 hours to set up. Remove from fridge and stir, then place into the freezer until ready for use.
Gluten-Free Vegan Serves 8
- 1/2 Cup Vegan Butter Melted
- 2/3 Cup Coconut Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Vanilla Cashew Yogurt
- 1 tsp Pure Vanilla
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/3 Cup Almond Flour
- 2/3 cup Coconut Flour
- 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
- 20 ounce can Crushed Pineapple
- 2 Cups Powdered Coconut Sugar
- 7 Slices of Pineapple
Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8×8 inch pan with tin foil spray with non-stick spray and place pineapple rings as shown above then set aside. Combine butter, yogurt, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Add flour, salt, soda, and stir until just combined. Making sure not to overmix. Next, add in drained crushed pineapple (make sure to reserve the juice). Once combined transfer into the pan and make sure it is evenly distributed.
Bake for 36-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. To make the glaze combine 2 cups of powdered sugar and 3-4 Tbps of pineapple juice. Mix until combined. Take a kabob stick and poke cake to allow the glaze to enter and pour the glaze over the top. I like to place a baking sheet under the wire rack to catch the excess glaze. Let sit for 5 minutes and enjoy!
Need A Hand?
A happy and healthy life is closer than you may think. We all have to deal with our health daily, and when we don’t feel our best, it shows. If you are tired of just making it through your day, you NEED to start investing in your health today! You are not alone on this journey. If you ever need any help, I am always here to do just that. Even if it is something as small as acting as a sounding board, do you have any questions or concerns I can help you with? Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected], or you can even book a one-on-one call with me. Be sure to subscribe to gain access to tons of free goodies and check back daily for more great recipes and information!