Nutritional medicine places a great emphasis on the digestive tract — the primary area where we receive the goodness from the foods that we consume. A healthy digestive system leads to a healthier body and mind.
The primary role of the digestive system is to break down and absorb food, providing our body with the fuels and nutrients it requires to function optimally. What we eat and drink builds the foundation of our health. We eat to obtain nutrients for our muscles and organs, to promote the growth and repair of our tissues, and to support our immune system in fighting disease.
The reason why I’m so passionate about creating recipes and purely functional foods that nourish the gut, is because I know that I’m looking after my health without missing out on delicious food - plus I feel and look my best, too. I believe that food is most healing when it is close to it's original state and has the properties to heal and nourish. I encourage you to make small diet and lifestyle changes that will have positive outcomes to your health in the future.
The good news is that you are in control of your own body - what you eat as well as your lifestyle. By cutting down on these 3 foods as well as listening to your body, you’ll be on the right track helping to ensure a happy and healthy environment for your beneficial gut flora to thrive.
1. STORE-BOUGHT SNACK BARS + BAKED GOODS
Most store-bought snack and baked goods are highly processed. This means they’re loaded with artificial sweeteners, refined flours, bulking agents, flavour enhancers and additives that are highly inflammatory to the digestive system. Think of them as like dropping a nuclear bomb on your gut bacteria – it’ll be hard for them to survive to keep you healthy. Plus, the sugar in these foods feeds bad bacteria in the gut, causing an imbalance with symptoms such as bloating, constipation and weight gain.
WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD:
There are many healthy substitutes for your store-bought chocolate bar or muffin, that won’t give you a sugar spike or a bloated tummy. I love making my own sweet treats such as Naked Chocolate Cake or Protein Power Balls using Healthy Chef Naked Chocolat because I know it’s made from purely delicious natural ingredients such as antioxidant-rich cocoa, cinnamon and vanilla bean. This means I can still satisfy my sweet tooth and ensure I keep my gut happy at the same time! Remember make it yourself and know what's in the foods you eat!
Excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugar promote the growth of bad bacteria in your digestive system thus creating an in balance that can lead to dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is a term used to describe an imbalance that may arise among the bacteria that inhabit the gut. Ideally, the beneficial bacteria in our gut keep the pathogenic actions of the bad bacteria in check, but sometimes due to poor diet, this balance gets thrown out of whack. This can lead to a breakdown in our digestive defense system, allowing the baddies to overpopulate and our health to deteriorate. Nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, dysmotility, bloating, food intolerances, nutrient malabsorption and chronic inflammation may result and increase the chances of chronic disease. Diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates that include processed foods, white flour, white pasta etc basically provide the perfect environment for the bad bacteria to thrive. It's also important to remember that many so called healthy raw foods and snacks out in the market are also high in sugar - so just be mindful of that.
WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD
The best way is always to start the day with a life saving drink that will get you started for the busy day, give your body the nutrients it needs and prevent you from snacking at your desk or reaching for that chocolate bar at the supermarket. When I'm baking, I always reduce the sugar by half or more and use more unrefined ingredient sources that are nutrient dense and will not cause spikes in blood sugar. Adding a Sugar Free Protein into a shake or enjoying healthy fats such as nut, seeds, avocado and cold pressed olive oil will also help satisfy cravings, sustain and nourish the body. One of my favourite treats is to indulge in a Healthy Hot Chocolate MYLK that is free from added sugar. I make mine with a combination of cashew milk and water and it helps satisfy my sweet craving. What I love about it is that you can sweeten to taste so you can easily add a little raw honey or stevia if you need a little extra.
Also helping with better gut motility are probiotic-rich foods (live good bacteria) such as cultured yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir. I like to take the Healthy Chef Organic Wheatgrass as a perfect on-the-go drink to help heal my gut and support the elimination of wastes, as it’s rich in chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives green fruits and vegetables their colour. It’s high level of chlorophyll also means it alkalises the body and supports detoxification and digestion.
Gluten is a protein found in certain grains such as wheat, rye, barley, oats and triticale. Gluten intolerance can range in severity and result in a variety of physical symptoms including bloating, constipation, eczema and behavioural issues. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition caused by the body’s inability to digest gluten that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine and disruption to nutrient absorption. If you are intolerant to gluten you will need to avoid foods such as commercial breads, cereals and pastas, as well as many other processed foods (sausages, store-bought stocks, sausages, sauces, meat patties etc.)
WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD
Natural unprocessed wholefoods such as vegetables, salads, fruits, nuts, seeds and organic meats do not contain gluten. Wholegrains such as amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice are great gluten free alternatives. I love to make my delicious gluten free pumpkin or quinoa bread as an alternative to traditional store bought breads. I always try to source organic poultry and grass fed meats from my local butcher because I know there are no additives or fillers and I'm getting premium quality, in taste and nutrients, as well as making an investment in my health.
Alternatively, I like to make Healthy Chef protein smoothies as a meal replacement for when I get home late from the office. Protein is an essential nutrient that nourishes and maintains a healthy gut lining and immune system. It’s great for those with sensitive digestive systems as they are free from gluten, fillers, gums, artificial sweeteners, chemicals, preservatives and sugar that can often cause gastric distress. In the mornings, I enjoy a glass of Cold-Pressed Wheatgrass Juice with a little lemon. Our wheatgrass is the only gluten free and cold pressed variety in Australia, so it helps nourish a sensitive digestive system.
Want to know how to heal your gut and re-discover perfect digestive health? Perfect Digestive Health is available from The Healthy Chef eStore HERE.