It is said "all diseases begin in the gut," which is why gut health is so important. You see, we all have microbes in our intestines: Trillions of them, to be exact. These microbes metabolize food and make vitamins accessible to us. In other words, they’re essential to our health and immunity. They actually add up to 4 pounds of our body weight and help us fight off “bad” microbes (like the infamous E.coli or tetanus). Sadly, we don’t always treat good microbes the way they deserve to be treated; in fact, we’ve inadvertently been annihilating them with excessive antibiotics, antibacterial soap, and more! Do your gut a favor and protect the healthy microbes in it with these 3 tips.
Eat more fermented foods
Eating fermented food is more than just a current health trend. It’s also a really smart thing to do. That’s because fermented foods contain live cultures, similar to yogurt (which provides billions of microbes per serving, may I add). If yogurt isn’t your thing, I highly recommend giving fermented foods a go. There are so many different kinds to try, such as kombucha, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, and pickles. The best part about fermented foods is that you can pretty much ferment anything. My personal favorite is fermented beets, but you can ferment anything from carrots to cauliflower. Here are some really easy fermentation recipes to get you started. Don’t want to make your own? Find them in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, or at your local farmer’s market.
Go whole grain
Some diets don’t advise you to eat whole grains, but they’re essential to a healthy gut. That’s because the high-fiber food is rich in oligosaccharides (try saying that three times fast), the complex carbohydrates microorganisms eat. That’s why eating quinoa, oatmeal, wheat pasta, or buckwheat is so much healthier than eating refined grains (like white flour). Also, just a little FYI, the USDA recommends an intake of 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. To meet that requirement, try making yourself a sandwich out of whole wheat bread (3 grams of fiber per slice) and eating a few high-fiber snacks, like raw apples (3.5 grams). So get eating!
Get dirty – through gardening, that is
Too often, we find ourselves stuck behind a desk or computer, instead of venturing outside (I would know). Here’s the problem with that: getting outside will not only improve your mood, but it’ll also improve your gut. That’s right, but specifically when you garden: Soil is filled with billions of gut-healing bacteria. In fact, playing in dirt is actually beneficial for you (good thing too -- I used to do it all the time as a kid). When you garden and play with dirt, you take in good bacteria through your skin, respiration (maybe that’s why soil smells so good?), and even your sinuses. If you have an organic garden growing in your backyard, don’t be so quick to wash off your produce: It can actually be beneficial to eat just the way it is! Obviously you don’t have to eat the dirt (just brush it off gently), but washing it off will get rid of those gut-healing microbes you could otherwise directly ingest! That said, always wash food you get from the store with water (even if it’s organic), as a precautionary (never know what’s been on that!).
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