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It Takes Guts to Heal Your Gut

Have you ever wondered why they call it the ‘gut feeling’? Well, your gut is one of the most important parts of your body, so much so that it has its own brain (called the enteric nervous system) that’s able to process things just like the one in your head. It has the ability to send messages between neurons, to learn, to remember, and ultimately to produce what you know as gut feel.

Your gut feel is not just to help you determine if your partner is lying or if you’re making the right decision about something. It’s not just a metaphorical connection between your brain and your stomach. The connection is much closer than that. Your brain and stomach constantly communicate with each other and tell each other when you’re stressed, when you’re not eating right, when your body isn’t in sync, etc.

So many people take their gut for granted—abusing their stomachs, participating in fad diets that might not be healthy for their bodies, and ignoring signs and symptoms that there’s something amiss in their digestive tract (and maybe even their life). And we’re here to tell you about small ways you can improve your gut health.

 

First let’s identify some of the signs that your gut needs healing:

- Stomach pains (determine the kind of pain you’re feeling whether it’s bloating, cramping, acid reflux, etc.)

- Flatulence (farting more than usual and having smellier gas means that you’re not digesting well)

- Tarry or dark stool

- Heartburn

- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)

 

Common culprits are dairy, fried food, sugary snacks, caffeinated products, garlic and onions, grains, citrusy fruits, and processed foods. Even some vegetables can add to your feeling of bloating and gassiness like broccoli and brussels sprouts. While some of these foods may be beneficial for your health, other people have a harder time digesting them which leads to pain and other discomfort. Which then brings us to the kinds of food that can aid in your digestion.


Fermented carrots, sauerkraut, and fermented garlic

 

Fermented vegetables is just one of the things you can incorporate in your diet to ensure that your stomach is healthy. We attended a Fermented Vegetables Workshop held by Noelle Hilario of Flow Retreats, a wellness lifestyle brand geared towards healthy, mindful and passionate living, to ask just how these things help keep our gut healthy.

 

 

Noelle says, “Fermented food benefits us because they contain probiotics (good bacteria) which balance digestion and enhance the intestinal flora with enzymes. They help absorb live nutrients in the food you eat, so you won’t need to consume vitamins and supplements. One of the things they do for your body is to increase immunity and protect you from the outside environment. They also fight inflammation and bloating.”

 


Turmeric probiotic drink

 

When asked how often we should consume fermented veggies, Noelle says, “Every day! It’s good to have sauerkraut, fermented veggies with a meal, preferably have a few bites of fermented food before your meal to get the enzymes in your system going and for better digestion of food. I also start my day with a shot of turmeric or ginger probiotic or apple cider vinegar with water. Also good to drink fermented liquids like kombucha or kefir all throughout the day.”

 

 

Kombucha is a variety of fermented black or green tea and is said to possess the health benefits of tea, including antioxidants which kill harmful bacteria and build up your immune system, and being fermented adds probiotics in the mix.

Kefir is similar to yogurt in being a fermented milk drink. It’s not only a good source of probiotics but also calcium. You can make this by using whole cow’s milk and kefir grains, or nowadays you can also use goat’s milk or coconut milk.

Other food that you can incorporate into your everyday meals are kimchi, miso (yes, like Japanese miso soup), sourdough bread, and tempeh, which is fermented soy beans.

Here’s a recipe to get you started on your road to gut-happiness:

 

Sauerkraut Cabbage


Photo by ELEVATE from Pexels

 

1 green or red cabbage

1 tablespoon sea salt

 

1. Peel around 2-3 outer leaves from the cabbage and set aside.

2. Shred the cabbage with a knife or food processor and put in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of sea salt or rock salt.

3. Knead the cabbage until its juices are released.

4. Place cabbage and liquid in a sterilized jar and pack in the cabbage tightly. Make sure the cabbage is submerged in its own brine completely.

5. Use reserved cabbage leaves to cover the cabbage and keep it submerged in its brine.

6. Cover the jar and allow to ferment for 3 days. Store in the refrigerator once fermented.

 

Photos by Noelle Hilario