Trust your gut

OK, so this time I am tasked with talking about ‘living foods’. To be honest, a couple of years back I would have thought that this term applied to leftovers, half-finished sauces and something else you can’t recognise in the fridge that eventually develops into a new life-form and starts knocking on the inside of the door to be let out.

Skip across to some other life-forms… The ones in our gut, the healthy bacteria your GP always mentions before dishing out a dose of antibiotics and a warning to eat yoghurt. Yoghurt and the flora and fauna of my digestive system was all I thought there was to this until I started learning.

Gut bacteria is actually a very complex and cosmopolitan habitat of many different life-forms. We need this bacteria in our gut to help process and digest what we consume. The better balance we have with this (friendly) bacteria, and the more types we have, will help us process our food better. By processing our food better, these friendly guys will help eliminate the harmful inflammatory responses (sore tummies, and other responses) to certain foods we may be worried we have become intolerant to.

Now over to living foods… The best way to get those guys in your gut working in is to eat ‘living foods’. These I found out are not the science experiments growing in Tupperware’s in your kid’s school-bag, but rather a mix of raw (prebiotic), and probiotic (fermented) food items. Below is a list for you to explore. As always, listen to your body, feel how any changes affect you – and definitely introduce new things slowly so you don’t shock your poor friendly bacteria into a corner!

1. Prebiotic Power Foods
A food that is prebiotic contains ingredients, mostly fibre, that gut bacteria feed on, producing fermentation by-products that benefit health. (Think raw here) Here are some of my faves (even though garlic and onion don’t like me sometimes!):

  • Almonds
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Garlic
  • Greens
  • Kiwifruit
  • Legumes
  • Mushrooms
  • Oats
  • Onions

2. Probiotic Power Foods
Probiotic-rich foods are fermented naturally. Fermented foods can provide fibre for our resident gut bacteria as well as a fresh dose of bacteria. The fresh bacteria help the resident bugs do their job better. I’m not so good at adding these to my diet, but here are the ones I do:

  • Fermented vegetables: sauerkraut, pickled carrots or beetroot, traditional cured Greek olives.
  • Fermented soybeans (miso, tempeh) – tempeh reminds me of Bali – YUM!
  • Cultured dairy products (buttermilk, yogurt, cheese). There are non-dairy options available too, using soy or coconut.
  • Fermented condiments like apple cider vinegar.
  • I’ve heard a lot about fermented beverages like Kombucha (not wine or beer!), so that’s on my list to try.

Get your dose of living foods, and here’s to a happy gut and smiling immune system!

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