We’re a nation of perfectionists, impatiently waiting for that FAD diet or ‘life-hack’ weight loss pill that is going to put an end to our constant efforts in losing weight. According to Huffington Post, 64% of Brits are trying to lose weight ‘all or most of the time’, when you think about it, we actually waste so much time just trying to reach a goal that for, well.. 64% of us (apparently) we are never going to achieve.
We’re eating low calories, restricted portions, excising regularly, so why don’t we have that dream body and super-flat stomach; moreover, if we’re eating so ‘healthily’ why do we feel so tired and sluggish all the time? We can tell ourselves that it’s just the calorie restriction making us tired, or the extra gym sessions, but that doubtful voice in the back of your mind might actually be right this time..
The real secret, to why we’re a nation of constant dieters is because we don’t give our gut bacteria a second thought. Yes, scientific research over the past few years has actually proven that the state of our gut bacteria is the key to weight loss and better moods, clearer complexions and a top notch immune system! Obviously, there are good bacteria and bad bacteria living in our bodies, but how to do we know when we are feeding the bad instead of the good?
How To Eat For Your Microbes
It’s important that we understand, we are not just eating for ourselves, we are eating to feed the trillions of bacteria living in our guts (gross but true). If you’ve never eaten ‘for your bacteria’ before then you might be skeptical of how beneficial slight diet change can be, but just trust us. Studies actually now associate healthy microbes with lower incidences of cancer, heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, asthma, depression, autism, IBS, colic, Parkinson’s and general allergies. Still not sold? What about the fact that healthy microbes could mean a faster, clearer brain, better moods, bags more energy, reductions in food cravings, major healthy weight loss and crystal clear skin!
So, how do we eat for our Microbes? Every person is different, and so is there bacteria, but there are some general rules to stick to in order to feel those all important improvements in our well being.
What to eat?
- Eat a wide range of plant based foods. Your gut has a diverse community of microbes, all of which prefer different foods. Veg from the sunflower family (artichokes, lettuce, tarragon) and from the Lilly family (leeks, chives, shallots, onions, garlic, asparagus) are particularly good for the bacteria.
- Eat more fiber. Simply incorporate more fruit, veg, pulses, nuts and wholegrains to increase your intake.
- Use more Virgin Olive oil. Not only does it taste incredible with practically all foods, it contains the highest amount of microbe-friendly polyphenols.. It’s really good stuff!
- Eat more Probiotic Foods. By eating more fermented foods you can actually introduce gut friendly bacteria to your gut, giving it a kick start, try foods like Probiotic Yogurt, Roquefort cheese, Live Miso and Sauerkraut. Don’t worry, we’ll talk more about these foods shortly.
- Water. Surprise surprise, you cannot maintain a healthy life style with out water. It’s just good for you, no questions asked, so drink more whenever you can!
What Foods To Avoid In Order For a Healthy Gut
Generally it’s fairly simple to cut out the ‘bad bacteria’ foods, there are readily available healthier alternatives and once you break the habits of consuming these things, the improvement in your general well being.
What not to eat?
- Avoid highly processed foods. They contain all sorts of chemicals and preservatives that destroy your good bacteria, not only that, they feed the bad bacteria, stay well away!
- Do not take Antibiotics unless you absolutely have to. Yes they might kill the bad bacteria and bugs that you’ve picked up, but they also destroy the good bacteria. If you have to take them then be sure to eat lots of probiotic foods afterwards.
- No booze. This might seem fairly obvious, but alcohol actually damages the mucus in our intestines and encourages the bad bacteria to take over.
- No more caffeine. This is the biggie for us here at Silver Mushroom, with a Starbucks on every corner and a Costa Go in every single petrol station, this might be tricky. But caffeine raises stress hormones and sugar in the blood which has a major impact on our gut bacteria. Try to cut caffeine out over a week or two to avoid withdrawals.
- Cut out sugar and artificial sweetner. It feeds the bad bacteria in your gut, drains your energy and leaves you feeling sluggish. Swap refines sugars for healthy alternatives, like fruit.
- Cut out diary. Again, they feed the bad bacteria and should be avoided. Almond milk and Soy milk are great alternatives.
Some Great Probiotic Recipes
If you eat Miso soup and sauerkraut on a regular basis then we take or hats off to you. But for the rest of us, who need a little extra help when it comes to fermenting foods, these recipes should come in handy.
This health promoting tea has been called the ‘tea of immortality’, made by fermenting tea using something called a Kombucha culture which can also be called a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). This culture feeds on the sugar in the tea and produces lots of gut-loving bacteria! After fermentation, Kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid (acetic, gluconic and lactic). These bacteria are known as “cellulose-producing bacteria,” meaning they produce cellulose, which acts as a shield to cells! Click here for the recipe and a little more info.
Shop our Kombucha Set here.
Sauerkraut is a form of fermented cabbage. First and foremost, sauerkraut’s live and active probiotics have beneficial effects on the health of your digestive tract, and therefore the rest of your body too. It is actually proven to increase your brain function and your mood! It’s great on burgers, sandwiches or just on it’s own, this German recipe is definitely a great place to start when eating for your gut.
Shop the Kilner Fermentation Set here.
You may have heard of miso, a Japanese food made from fermented soybeans and some grains; it’s a flavorful addition to soups and other dishes. Usually available as a paste, miso contains probiotics providing you with significant health benefits, but miso is also high in salt, so use it in moderation. Check out this great Miso Noodle Soup recipe by Cookie & Kate.
Let us know if you have any thoughts on gut health, or any recipes, tips and/or tricks you want to share. We’d love to hear them!