Hello everyone! I hope you are having a marvelous start to the new week, and that this post finds you healthy – and happy!
In fact, that’s what today’s post is all about – feeling healthy and happy! I know, it seems like there’s a vitamin or lifestyle tip (some old, some new) that always promises to do just that for you, right? And anxious for change, we’ve tried just about all of them, right? I’ve got years worth of posts on this site alone that has enough health tips and recipes to make you do a 180 about 10 times over!
But in reality folks, if you really want to feel your best, and I mean feel the most elevated and the most content, the closest thing to super-woman (or man) there is, you’ve got to start out with the gut. Believe it or not, it ALL starts with the gut.
First, a couple facts. Did you know that approximately 80% of your immune system resides in your gut? This fact alone ties your gut health to one of the most important functions needed to survive – the ability to fight off harmful pathogens.
Why else should we give more attention to our gut? I mean, we live modern lives. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard anything out of the ordinary calling to me from that area.
How about weight? Having a healthy balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria in your gut can make or break any diet you’re on. Want to lose weight? Start with the gut. Struggling with blood sugar issues? Type 2 diabetes has been linked to an imbalance of bacteria in your intestines. What about behavior? Have you ever heard the phrase “the gut is your second brain?” There is actually truth to this adage – and that is because your gut, among a myriad of other functions, produces serotonin, which is a natural mood elevator.
Wait a minute? Doesn’t your brain produce serotonin? Yes…but your gut makes more than your brain! I know, right, who knew?
Starting to see how important the gut is now? How about this tidbit. In Dr. Josh Axe’s new book, Eat Dirt, he talks about the issue of leaky gut, and outlines lifestyle changes that can reverse this condition. What is leaky gut, you ask? Basically, it’s varied levels of intestinal permeability, and this condition has actually been linked to the following:
Allergies and food sensitivities
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome
Lou Gehrig’s disease
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Type 1 & 2 diabetes
I know what you’re thinking – the gut is responsible for ALL this!!! Starting to see how important a happy gut is?
Ok, so now that we know there’s a squeaky wheel we just weren’t hearing, the next question is what do we do about it?? How can we turn a sad gut into a happy gut?
First rule – do no harm. Let’s eliminate a few common gut-offenders from our diet. Say bye bye to shellfish, pork, peanuts, and canola oil. Too many of these guys will take you several steps back.
To focus on healing the gut lining, let’s start with an awesome product I call the “good for everything” powder – Great Lakes Grassfed Beef Collagen Powder!
Other gut healing nutrients include quercetin, phosphatidyl choline, copper, zinc, l-glutamine, l-alanyl-l-glutamine, methylsulfonylmethane, n-acetyl-d-glucosamine, licorice root powder, slippery elm bark, and OF COURSE, probiotics!
Now, choosing a good probiotic is ESSENTIAL or you’re just throwing money away. I know it’s all too temping to buy that under-$10 brand at your local grocery store, or to just stock up on commercial yogurts, but believe me, you won’t be doing yourself any favors that way.
My personal favorite probiotic is Dr. Mercola’s Complete Probiotics –
A close second is Garden of Life’s Primal Defense. Honestly, I’ve used both of these products before, and not only do I love the brand, quality, and potency, but I love what’s NOT in these supplements. You know what I’m talking about.. all those “other ingredients” hidden in the bottom corner of the ingredient label in font juuuuust about too small to read.
Now, in addition to supplementation, there are a host of things you can do at home to incorporate live, beneficial bacteria back into your gut. Things like kefir – both dairy and water kefir! Remember my past posts on how to make your own live beverages? Here are the links for quick reference:
You could also try your hand at culturing vegetables! This is an easy, great tasting way to get that much more goodness into your body.
Now, fermenting veggies could be done several ways. One is using whey. I’ve never tried this method, but it is an option. Another way to go is Celtic Sea Salt exclusively – I’ve made sauerkraut this way, and LOVED it! Your third option is using a vegetable starter culture, and I recently experimented with this medium, and the results were just wonderful! What I like about using a culture is 1) the taste. The veggies actually tasted like a mix between using the salt method (sauerkraut) and kombucha. I know, right? You’re probably thinking “what is wrong with this girl??” Trust me, it was good. But most importantly for this method is the 2) RICH probiotic count. Using a vegetable starter culture churns out a product with about 5 times the beneficial bacteria than using salt alone – and THAT’S getting the most out of your money!
So cultured veggies really are quite easy with a starter culture. You will need clean mason jars, salt, starter culture, water, and vegetables.
Simply shred cabbage, red cabbage, kale, carrots, or whatever else you want to culture. You don’t want large chunks, so take your time and do it right. Next step – follow the specific instruction on your culture box. Each culture has a preferred method, and its best to stick with their science.
You’re going to pack the shredded veggies into your mason jar, and add the culture/water/salt mixture (per instructions). Make sure you don’t fill your jars all the way to the top, or you’ll have a spill when the cabbage water is drawn from the veggies! Ideally, you will fill the mason jars 3/4 of the way full.
Now, you wait.. typically you will let the veggies culture on the counter, at room temperature for a week or so – again, depending on the instructions. After the initial culturing, you can move your veggies to the fridge. Note: After culturing, if your veggies have a foul odor, mold growing, or have a pH of 3.9<, don’t risk it! Like everything else, culturing foods has its risks – and honestly, who wants to give our spouses something else to poke fun at if they have to take us to the doctor over poorly-fermented vegetables?
(Back to now) Voila! Just look at these beauties!
Before you know it, you’ll be putting so much of the good stuff in, your gut will be singing! Think I’m exaggerating? Anyone who’s seen my mood the last couple weeks has been hounding to know my secret.
And here it is – just start with the gut.
Hope today’s post motivates you to take active steps to giving your body everything it needs to balance that good bacteria, so you, too, can be on cloud nine. (It’s just that easy, folks)
*This post does contain affiliate links – using these links does not change your cost should you decide to use them to purchase from these companies – it simply tells the company who sent you over. They then send a small portion back to me to go towards the costs of running this site. (As much as I would like to, I don’t get paid to do what I love to do – inspire you!) Thank you for all of your support – it’s what keeps these posts coming!