6 Foods that will completely transform your gut microbiome.
When someone mentions that one specific food is the ‘magic bullet’ to end disease, I always get a little uncomfortable.
The human body is much more complex than people realize. It’s an interconnected system that can’t be boiled down to a single component independent of everything else.
And anyone claiming that this one food or product is the formula for great health, is no different to the snake oil salesmen of the past.
This is why food trends come and go, because people want to believe the solution is that simple.
“If I just eat Kale I will be healthy, regardless of my other food and lifestyle choices.”
As someone who has been involved in the commercial food and health industry for a number of years, it is all too common to hear people claim that their product is the best.
I once heard a lady claim that by drinking her product you can cure yourself of cancer, diabetes, heart disease… you name it.
And people were eating it up!
The truth is the human body requires more than just healthy food to stay healthy.
Today people will say outright that eating majority animal based products is bad for your health.
But there are countless tribes throughout the world even today that subsist almost entirely on animal products, yet don’t suffer from obesity or any of the chronic health problems of the west, such as inflammation and heart disease.
But what researchers fail to look at is the lifestyle of these people. They forget to take into account that these tribal people walk up to 8 hours a day and go through regular periods of fasting.
The Maasai for example spend one month every year completely abstaining from food.
The point I am trying to make is that health is a holistic approach, where all facets interact with one another to create balance.
And the same applies to the microbiome within our guts.
The diversity of bacteria that live within us is so vast that scientists have only mapped a fraction of the species that live there.
And we know even less about how these microbes interact with one another, or change behavior depending on the presence of other microbes and food.
What we do understand is that when we look at people healthier than average, what they all possess is a large diversity of microbial species living within their gut.
A great example to help illustrate this is fiber. You see when you eat fiber, it is not food for you, but for your microbes.
Just like you, your microbes need fuel in order to carry out their duties. If they don’t get this fuel source they will often start munching on your mucus lining within your intestines.
That mucus lining is there to keep the divide between your gut and your blood. Once your gut starts leaking into your bloodstream, your immune system goes into red alert to try and stop the invasion
And it does this by increasing inflammation, which leads to a host of auto-immune responses and disease.
So by eating fiber, you ensure your microbes are well feed, and are thus not eating your mucus lining for survival.
However, there is a catch.
Different varieties of fiber from different sources, feed different varieties of microbes. So even if you hit your recommended daily amount of fiber, but it is all from a single source, you are at risk of creating an imbalance among your microbes, and are opening yourself up to disease.
Because by consuming just one source of fiber, naturally the species that do well off that source will eventually overpopulate all the other species within your gut
So the best thing for you to do is get a wide variety of the right kinds of foods.
This is the way your body is designed.
So below I have put together a list of foods that will go along way in helping you restore balance within your gut.
But before I do, there is a quote from michael pollan, who perfectly sums up a healthy diet in 8 words:
“Eat real food, mostly plants, not to much”
Being healthy is not about restricting the type of foods you eat. ‘
It is the opposite really.
Get a wide variety of foods, as long as it real, unprocessed food, eat a wide variety of plants and don’t over do it.
Now I know what you are thinking. “ how can the bones of a dead cow be good for my gut?”
Let me ask you a question? Where do all those collagen products that have become all the rage come from?
They aren’t made exclusively from chemicals in a lab.
In fact the majority of them are derived from Bone Broth.
Bone broth is packed full of collagen which makes it quite useful for your joints, your hair, skin, nails and your gut.
And for thousands of years people have been surviving the frigid winters of the north consuming bone broth for strength.
Physicians harkening as far back as Hippocrates have associated bone broth with gut healing.
Bone broth is also a foundational food of the GAPS diet. Which was developed by a physician who cured her son’s autism.
The beauty of Bone broth is that it contains valuable minerals in a form your body can easily absorb and use, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur chondroitin, glucosamine, and a variety of trace minerals
Homemade bone broth may help reduce joint pain and inflammation, promote strong bones and boost hair and nail growth.
The best part is that jacksons has some of the best grass fed beef bone broth available anywhere in the country.
It will keep you strong, provide you with a wide variety of probiotics and is an amazing addition for soups, graveys and just about every warm meal.
2. Milk Kefir
Anyone who knows me well, knows I can’t get enough of this stuff. I always have some Kefir fermenting at home.
In fact it is one of my most requested ferments in my fermented foods mastery course.
Kefir most likely originated in eastern europe, as a result of travellers transporting milk in animal hides.
The combination of bacteria living within the hides led to what we know of today as kefir.
Kefir contains more probiotics than any store bought supplement, and unlike yogurt – where most of the probiotic strains in commercial products don’t survive the saliva in the mouth – kefir is in the perfect state to deliver these all important microbes directly to the intestines.
It was long believed that the peasants of bulgaria lived so much longer than the average age of the time due to their frequent consumption of this sour milk.
With the bacteria regularly cleaning out the colon and keeping everything spick and span.
It was Élie Metchnikoff who through studying the longevity of these bulgarian peasants eventually discovered probiotics and whose discoveries on health and the microbiome are still felt today.
The average batch of traditionally made Kimchi contains over 100 different species of bacteria per serving.
To put that into perspective for you, traditional probiotic supplements on average contain 3-4 different varieties.
Kefir only contains around 12 different strains. So when it comes to probiotic diversity Kimchi is the king.
Kimchi also has a secret weapon the other foods listed above don’t have. Kimchi is both a probiotic and prebiotic.
Meaning that it is packed full of fiber along with billions of microbes to not only recolonize your gut, but to feed the masses already living within your intestines.
Kimchi is amazing because it pairs well with almost any dish, breakfast, lunch, dinner. It is at home as a side on almost any plate.
4. Beet kvass
Beet kvass is a beverage that has been consumed throughout eastern europe for thousands of years.
It is traditionally fermented with rye bread. And it is also known as ‘Russian Wine’.
Today many different variations of the ferment have become quite popular. Including sourdough starters, whey, sauerkraut, and the most basic of all salt brine.
Fermented Beetroot juice has become a favourite among many olympic and professional endurance athletes.
Beet juice raises nitric oxide levels in the body. Research shows that nitric oxide can increase blood flow, improve lung function, and strengthen muscle contraction. This combination has stimulated athletes to supplement with beet juice for cardiorespiratory endurance and performance.
Beetroots have been shown to reduce cold symptoms as a result of stress, with those suffering with chronic asthma showing the biggest benefit.
Beet kvass has proven itself to be a goldmine of antioxidants, particularly in the effective maintenance of the heart.
And these colourful vegetables fermented or pickled have the added benefit of containing powerful nutrient compounds that help prevent heart disease, birth defects, and certain cancers, especially colon cancer – Which would make sense considering the amount of bacterial strains that are reintroduced into the gut to “clean house”.
It’s an excellent blood and liver tonic that helps to create new blood cells from its high concentrations of phytonutrients called betalians
Vegetables? WTF. what about the superfoods?
What about Goji berries? Hemp?
Sometimes the answer to great health is just not as sexy as you would like.
Without a foundation of diverse plant life in your life, no matter what you do, you will always be at some disadvantage.
Plants are the standard, and our primary source of fiber.
And the reason I am not calling out a single one of these plants, is because the benefit lies in the variety.
Make sure to get a wide variety of organic veggies every single day. Blend them into a smoothie for essential micronutrients and make sure you get the recommended daily amount of fibre from all your plants.
Don’t be a loser, eat your vegetables.
One thing that most people don’t realize about fermentation is that it is a form of pre-digestion.
And a great example of this is Miso.
Miso is made by fermenting Soybeans.
And what most people don’t realize is that Soybeans in their natural state are of no benefit to humans.
We can’t digest or extract any of the nutrients contained within the Soybean.
Soy in its natural form is actually quite harmful to your health.
It is only when fermentation occurs that we are able to unlock the nutrients locked inside.
A form of predigestion.
Fermented foods are the oldest form of food technology we as humans know of, and some scientists argue that the consumption of fermented foods is actually pre-human.
The microbes and the food we eat have evolved together in a symbiotic relationship.
By consuming fermented foods regularly we are ensuring that our gut is adequately staffed to ensure optimal health.
If your gut is in balance and functioning as it should, you will find that disease cannot survive in your body, as your body is built to heal itself, when the right conditions are provided.
So make sure to eat your fermented foods.
If you would like to find out more about fermented foods, make sure to check out my page Kommunitea.
Where I teach people how to ferment their own foods, restore balance to their gut and finally experience what optimal health feels like.