Certified health coach Blair Badenhop explains the intricacies of good and bad gut bacteria and why sauerkraut should be at the top of your shopping list.
Written by Blair Bandenhop
The gut has become a hot topic in recent years. It’s been called the ‘second brain’ and crucial to immunity by a pair of PhDs. It’s been identified in studies as one of the root causes of dysfunction in the body—from thyroid conditions to anxiety. And it’s said that it contains over one trillion microorganisms – which is more than 10 times the number of cells in the human body.
While many of us can relate to the discomfort that comes with an unhealthy gut, it’s not always clear what an optimal gut should feel like, especially since talking about bowel movements is uncomfortable at the best of times.
Read on to learn more about how you can support your own body’s digestive system.
A healthy gut needs more good bacteria than bad bacteria to function well. When the population of bacteria is balanced, everything moves along properly. Bowel movements are regular (one to three times per day), pass easily, and are solid. There’s no discomfort, and overall wellbeing is felt—from energy levels to mental clarity.
“The gut has become a hot topic in recent years – it’s been called the ‘second brain’ and crucial to immunity.”
When the gut is out of balance, and bad bacteria have overtaken, digestion becomes symptomatic. Irregular bowel movements, such as diarrhea and constipation, and overall abdominal discomfort ranging from pain to distention are common. Some people experience extreme fatigue, mood swings, and brain fog—all of which stop them from functioning optimally throughout the day.
Whether you notice any of the above symptoms regularly or not, the key thing to keep in mind is that bad bacteria thrive on a high sugar, high yeast, and highly processed diet. Foods such as bread, sweets, and even fruit can impact the growth of bad bacteria. So it’s best to be mindful of how often you’re consuming them. It’s also important to eat foods that promote the growth and balance of good bacteria. Here five foods that will do just that.
- Sauerkraut. In the fermentation process, which involves slicing up cabbage and storing it in a jar with salt, the cabbage begins to grow beneficial probiotics, This bacteria helps to make foods easy to digest and the nutrient in them eariest to absorbe. Eating a few forkfuls of cabbage a day, whether that’s by adding it to a salad or as a side at meal time, can help reduce gas, bloating, and even symptoms linked to Crohn’s disease and colitis.
- Kefir. Another fermented superstar, kefir is simply fermented milk from a cow, goat, or even coconut. Just like sauerkraut, it is loaded with probiotics that promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. It also contains nutrients such as biotin and folate that help boost immune function and defend against harmful bacteria such as salmonella and E. Coli.
- Bone Broth. Made by boiling and then simmering cow or chicken bones over a period of days, bone broth is one of the most nutritious, health-enhancing provisions you can get your hands on. It contains healing compounds such as collagen, proline, glycine, and glutamine as well as powerful minerals including calcium and magnesium.. The gelatin in bone broth is especially helpful in healing the gut. It helps restore the integrity of the gut lining, fight food sensitivies, and promote the growth of probiotics.
- Beans. While beans tend to get a bad wrap, they’re actually one of the best sources of fiber we can get, which is an essential ingredient for optimal digestion. Fiber not only promotes a feeling of fullness, it also keeps things moving through the digestive tract. The insoluble fiber found in beans in particular act as a prebiotic, feeding the beneficial bacteria in the gut so they stay strong and healthy. Soak beans with a bay leaf to help reduce the occurrence of gas.
- Jerusalem Artichokes. Another excellent prebiotic food, the jerusalem artichoke is a starchy vegetable that is high in iron, potassium, and inulin. They’re one of the best sources of resistant starches, which have been shown to increase the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, improve the health of gut bacteria, and lower overall blood glucose levels.
Both probiotic and prebiotic promoting foods are essential to overall digestive health, and here we have five that work wonders. Supporting the wellbeing of your gut most defintiely benefits your entire body.
About the author
Blair is the founder of Blair Badenhop, Inc., a brand strategy and copywriting service destination for wellness entrepreneurs, and the creator of Your Wellness Brand, an online branding course for health coaches.
As a certified health coach herself and former marketing leader at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she has a unique understanding of the wellness landscape and the important role content plays in building a one-of-a-kind brand. Based in New York City, she has supported over 100 coaches and entrepreneurs in creating one-of-a-kind brand identities and content for new website and product launches. Her work has supported industry leaders like Nitika Chopra, Alexandra Jamieson, Anita Moorjani, Parsley Health, and Pursoma.