A healthy gut microbiome is essential to our overall well-being, but simply taking a daily probiotic or another supplement won't magically cure all of our gut health woes. If you don't address the root cause of what is damaging your gut, it cannot truly heal. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can start taking today toward a healthier, happier gut.
1. Refined flour and sugar - refined flours and sugars are widely known to cause inflammation and gut imbalance, minimizing these in your diet is a great first step towards balancing the gut microbiome.
2. Avoid antibiotics and preservatives in your food - as these can negatively impact your microbiome. Antibiotics can be found in conventionally raised animal sources and can wreak havoc on the gut, additionally, eating fresh whole foods will help minimize your intake of artificial preservatives. P.S. Did you know that most pesticides are basically antibiotics? In fact, glyphosate was first patented as an antibiotic. So doing your best to minimize pesticide exposure (when you can, I know it's not always possible) - will be good for your gut health.
3. Daily exposures to environmental toxins and stress - minimizing your exposures to toxins and stress can positively affect your microbiome. Stress is also a major factor in our overall health and well-being, schedule in some self-care like breathwork into your daily routine.
Steps to a healthier, happier gut:
Eat more plants! Try to incorporate as much variety as possible - the more strains of different beneficial bacteria we have in our gut, the better our overall gut health. Consuming a variety of healthy plants has SO many gut health benefits and is one of the easiest ways to get your gut health back on track! Include more of each of the following types:
1. Prebiotic foods: These are essentially the fuel required for healthy bacteria to flourish! Foods like leeks, garlic and onions, jicama, bananas, artichokes, and chicory root are all excellent plant sources of beneficial prebiotics.
2. Probiotic foods: These probiotic-rich foods actually introduce more healthy bacteria to the gut than just probiotic pills - a diet high in fermented food increases the gut diversity and reduces inflammatory markers. Foods like miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt, and kimchi (check below for my favorite kimchi recipe!)
3. Polyphenols: These foods protect the body against free radicals and inflammation - AND they feed our gut microbiome too! These basically act like prebiotics. Foods like berries, olives, coffee and tea, and herbs and spices are all excellent sources of a variety of polyphenols.
Kimchi is one of my favorite gut-healthy foods, especially when I know my gut health could use an extra boost. Here is my go-to kimchi recipe:
- 1 head of Napa cabbage
- Kosher salt
- 1 pear (can be normal or Asian) or apple
- 1 yellow onion
- 10 cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger, blended into paste
- 2 tbsp sweet rice flour
- 1.5 cups veggie stock
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 carrot
- 1/2 daikon radish
- 4 green onions
- 1 tbsp Korean chili powder (Gochu-garu)
- 2 tbsp Maine Coast Kelp powder (you can sub this with 1 tbsp fish sauce if you are not vegan)
1. Wash and cut 1 head of Napa cabbage
2. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with kosher salt (about 2 tbsp for every lb of cabbage)
3. Let it ’sweat’ for 2 hours or so - you will start to see liquid coming out
While you are waiting, blend 1 pear, 1 yellow onion, 10 cloves of garlic, 1 inch ginger in a high speed blender to make a paste
4. In a saucepan, mix 2 tbsp sweet rice flour with 1.5 cup veggie stock, 1 tbsp coconut sugar, bring to boil while stirring to form a thick rice paste.
5. Slice up 1 carrot, 1/2 daikon radish, 4 green onion into matchsticks
6. Rinse the Napa cabbage to wash off majority of the salt, and drain well.
7. Mix everything together with 1 tbsp Korean chili powder (Gochu-garu) + 2 tbsp Maine Coast Kelp granule. (If you are not vegan, feel free to sub this with 1 tbsp fish sauce)
9. Transfer to an airtight glass jar with a lid
10. Let it ferment. You can eat it after 2-3 days, the longer it ferments the more probiotics but the more sour it tastes. So if you don't like it too sour, put it in the fridge after 2-3 days. Or let it go longer outside, if you like it sour.
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