If you’ve seen any of my meals, you’d notice that I add some kind of fermented food to pretty much every one, whether it be sauerkraut, kimchi or even coconut yogurt. Even though I really do love the taste of all these foods, that’s not why I initially started adding plenty of these probiotic-rich foods to my meals. Just recently, I started seeing improvement in my digestion, which I have been struggling with for a couple years. I’m talking I would eat something small at 7am and feel like I had eaten 5 minutes ago when it came time to eat a late lunch around 2pm. Now I’m starting to digest my food better and can eat normal sized meals with no digestive upset. Don’t get me wrong, I changed and added a bunch of other habits and foods to heal my gut along the way, but i am a firm believer that adding these fermented foods so regularly to my diet has played a huge role in getting me where I am today (which is still by no means perfect). Now, I not only eat fermented foods because of their various health benefits, but I crave them daily and feel like a meal is incomplete without them. I’ll explain more about why this might be the case.
Through my studies with the NTA, I am learning the importance of getting down to the root cause of any health issue, and that root cause in many cases is less than optimal gut health. Our gut is our first line of defense from the outside world, so any pathogen or harmful substance that sneaks into our body with food or drink is either blocked by a healthy gut or allowed to slip through the gut lining by an unhealthy, otherwise know as “leaky” gut. When we allow our gut microbiome to get out of whack, our first line of defense is diminished and we end up with leaky gut syndrome, which is becoming more and more common today. These “leaks” that develop between the tight junctions of our gut lining end up allowing pathogens, undigested food particles and other foreign substances enter our bloodstream, causing an upregulation of our immune system. An acute immune response is perfectly normal and actually beneficial for our body from time to time. However, problems begin to arise when this is a daily occurrence because of a compromised barrier in our gut, leading to a chronic state of inflammation in the body. This chronic systematic inflammation that our body can’t seem to fight off ends up resulting in things like GI disorders, autoimmune diseases, neurological conditions and skin disorders.
By now you’re probably starting to realize how important our gut health plays in to our health, but you might be surprised to learn that the bugs living in your gut might be the culprits behind those relentless sugar cravings that you can’t seem to shake (isn’t it nice to know that you might not need to blame it all on lack of willpower?) or the reason you get gassy and bloated right after every meal. The food you eat is feeding the bugs that make up your microbiome, so when you choose a meal packed with refined carbohydrates and sugars, you are sending a direct invitation for the bad bugs to stay and reproduce. After many of these similar diet choices, a dysbiosis, or unfavorable ratio of bad bugs to good bugs, will develop. This overgrown population of bad bugs in the microbiome will keep asking for the foods they love like chips, cookies, pizza and ice cream, leading you into a downward spiral of cravings that you feel like you can’t escape. So, if this is what happens when you’re making poor decisions, imagine how you could reshape your microbiome with some smarter choices in the foods you are eating and reshape your palette in the long run. Adding probiotic rich foods to salads, hot meals or even by the spoonful, straight out the jar, is such a great step to getting your gut back on track.
NOTE: If you’ve tried a probiotic supplement and didn’t see a difference, give these foods a try. They’re much cheaper than a good quality supplement + you’re sure to be getting all the benefits of the live culture without the capsule that may have been sitting on a shelf for a while.
If any of these explain you, you most likely need to add probiotic-rich foods to your diet daily. There are so many different fermented foods you can try and it can be fun to incorporate new flavors to your regular dishes to spice them up a bit!
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