Health Hacks for Supercharging Your Energy by Literally Healing Your Gut!

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Fortune magazine has declared 2015 as the year of the microbiome. There is more and more research being undertaken to fully understand the relationship between your health and the composition of your microbiome. In this article we go through some great health hacks to improve the composition of your gut bacteria and transform your health.

So what is this microbiome? And how is it affecting your health?

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Well your body is actually made up of a complex ecosystem of microbes. Including 10 times more bacteria than you have human cells. These bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa that live on and in your body, including in your gut, can be referred to as your microbiome.

The health and composition of your microbiome in your gut can have an effect on all aspects of your health. This includes how you digest your food and your mood and mental health. As well as the strength of your immune system and how you deal with disease.

However an imbalance of the microbes in your gut can contribute to chronic illness and obesity. The microbiome of an obese person is vastly different to that of a healthy person. More and more studies are being undertaken to really understand not only how our microbiome effects our health. But also how we can influence and improve the balance of our gut microbes to improve our health. Reverse disease and lose weight.

Pharmacuetical drugs, environmental toxins, chemicals, stress, toxic foods and excess refined sugars all play a part in destroying those healthy gut bacteria.  And can cause imbalances of the microbiome. However there are some probiotic foods that help you replace some of those good bacteria your bodies needs. These start to heal your gut and balance out your microbiome.

What are Fermented Foods?

One of the biggest health hacks that you can implement to improve your health and performance is to make sure you have a healthy gut microbiome. The first step in healing your gut is really to cut out where possible those foods and environmental toxins that are negatively impacting your microbiome. Then you want to start to replace the good bacteria in your body.

Fermented foods are full of probiotics or good bacteria. They are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which the natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food. This then creates beneficial probiotics, enzymes and vitamins and cuts the sugar content of the food!

Traditionally these foods, such as kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut and pickled vegetables, were used for their health benefits. They were also long lasting and able to be easily stored. Ancient roman and Asian cultures ate fermented foods. As did people in ancient India, Bulgaria and other eastern European cultures. However in our fast paced western lifestyle fermented foods have largely been forgotten. Or replaced with supermarket versions of the originals. Often with high sugars, vinegars or preservatives and little of the original benefits of a homemade fermented food.

However fermented foods are making a comeback and are actually super easy to make at home. However before I go through an easy recipe to get you started lets go over some of the key health benefits of fermented foods.

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Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are gaining popularity due to their ability to create transformations in your health and literally heal your gut. Some of the health benefits include the following:

  1. Boosts your immune system – It is estimated that up to 80% of your immune system is actually located in your gut. Therefore the health of your gut plays a crucial role in optimizing your immune system. Which is your first line of defense against disease.
  1. Detoxification – The bacteria in fermented foods can be highly effective detoxifiers as fermentation breaks down the nutrients in foods and creates natural chelators (small molecules that bind very tightly to metal ions) that then bind toxins and remove them from the body.
  1. Restores gut health – the lactic acid produced during fermentation promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Which then helps you absorb more of the nutrients in the food that you eat.
  1. Natural variety of microflora – as long as you vary the type of fermented foods you are eating it’s easy to get a wide range of beneficial bacteria. Having a diversity of bacteria in your gut has been linked to improved health.
  1. Mood and behavior – Did you know that your gut actually produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin (that makes you happy) than your brain? A healthy gut can make you happier.
  1. Epigenetics – it has been shown that your gut health is actually a powerful variable of epigenetics. Probiotics may actually be able to influence the activity of your genes to help them express in a positive, disease-fighting way.
  1. Help prevent and improve diabetes and obesity – Studies have shown that your gut microbes play a critical role in your body weight and composition. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, for instance, showed obese people reduced abdominal fat nearly 5 percent simply by drinking probiotic-rich fermented milk for 12 weeks. Another large detriment to poor gut health is a reduced ability to access fat as fuel. If you have microbes in your gut that signal to store fat rather than burn it. You are unable to use fat as fuel and continue to store it.
  1. May help to relieve some of the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Studies have shown that a “typical western diet” high in sugar and unhealthy fats or a dose of antibiotics can start to change your gut microbes to “fat storing” microbes in as little as 24 hours. Ready to start incorporating some fermented foods into your diet?

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Types of Fermented Foods

There are a range of fermented foods you can try. Here are some of the more common ones.

  • Organic Tempeh – made from naturally fermented soybeans and is also a great source of vegetarian protein.
  • Miso – a fermented paste made from barley, rice or soybeans miso soup is a great way to try some fermented food. However, miso is also high in sodium so keep this in mind.
  • Sauerkraut – one of my favorite fermented foods. Sauerkraut is super easy to make from simply cabbage and salt. Adds a good dose of fiber as well as probiotics.
  • Pickles – pickles are also super tasty and easy to make yourself. If your buying prepackaged pickles just make sure you choose ones from the refrigerator section that are not pickled in vinegar. These ones don’t have the same health benefits and often have other additives included. Check your ingredients.
  • Other pickled vegetables – You can pickle most vegetables but some of my favorites to try include carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, beets, peppers and green beans.
  • Kefir – Kefir can be made from milk (cow’s milk, goats milk or coconut milk or water), sugar water, fruit juice or coconut water for a fermented drink.
  • Kimchi – Sometimes referred to as sauerkrauts Korean cousin this is another fermented cabbage only spicy!
  • Nato – made from fermented soybeans nato is also high in probiotics and protein.

Recipe to Try

Want to try and start making your own fermented foods? Homemade is by far the best source of these foods however you can also get some great options online. Here is a super easy recipe to get you started!

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Sauerkraut (recipe from the nourished kitchen)

Ingredients:

2 finely shredded medium cabbage heads.

2 tablespoons of sea salt.

Directions:

  • Add the cabbage and the salt together into a large mixing bowl.
  • Mix the slat and cabbage together with your hands, squeezing the cabbage to break up the cellular structure.
  • The cabbage will start to release its juices into the bowl after about 10 minutes of squeezing so keep at it :).
  • Transfer the cabbage mix and the juice into a mason jar and press it down until the juice covers the top of the cabbage.
  • Cover loosely and leave at room temperature for around a month however check it and leave until it is done to your liking.
  • Once fermented keep in the fridge.

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We would love to hear from you in the comments so let us know what are your favorite fermented foods. OR maybe you had never heard of fermented foods? Do you have some other health hacks to improve your gut health? 

Lets get the conversation going, what do you think? Will you start incorporating some fermented foods into your diet into the future?

 

 

Sources
Dr. Mercola, Fermented Foods: How to ‘Culture’ Your Way to Optimal Health. Online [http://articles.mercola.com/fermented-foods.aspx]

Dr. Mercola, Fermenting Foods—One of the Easiest and Most Creative Aspects of Making Food from Scratch [http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/29/sandor-katz-on-fermented-foods.aspx]

Rejuvenative Store for Fermented Foods: [http://www.rejuvenative.com/]

 

 

 

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