One exciting thing I started doing this summer is brewing my own kombucha! This is exciting not only because it is DELICIOUS, but it gives me the opportunity to talk about something that we simply don’t discuss enough, my friends. That thing is: GUT BACTERIA! Don’t worry. If your still stuck wondering what kombucha is, I’ll get back to that in a second. Stick with me :)
When I was in school for nutrition, one of the most interesting things that I learned is that 3-4 pounds of you as actually not you at all. In your digestive system you have an entire microbiome, or a community of bacteria, existing within you, with its own DNA. A whole 3 to 4 POUNDS of this stuff! Your gut flora plays a huge rule in supporting your immunity and regulating your metabolism, and it can even affect your mood! As a matter of fact, it’s been said that about 90% of diseases can be linked to the health of those itty-bitty guys in your gut.
If you are someone that gets sick a lot, it’s quite possible that your microbiome needs some TLC. Even if you don’t get sick too often, it’s good to be aware of your gut flora and know how to take care of it, because you can see effects as you get older too. Poor gut health has been tied to cancer, cognitive diseases like Alzhimer’s, mood disorders such as depression, and allergies, to name a few. Yikes! Good thing I’m here to tell you how to take better care of it. Here are some things you can do to support a healthy microbiome and thus a healthy life. If you follow these guidelines, you might find you have more energy, get sick less often, clear up tummy troubles, and even clear up your skin!
1) Eat more fermented foods. This adds probiotics (good bacteria) to your system and helps to balance the gut flora. Examples are kombucha (fermented tea), kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, and kefir.
2) Eat fiber rich foods. This is food for your gut flora, feed it well and keep it healthy.
3) Participate in activities that reduce stress. Stress kills the good bacteria. Watch a funny movie, pet a puppy, go for a run or do some yoga, light a candle, paint, breathe. Get to know your triggers, get to know what helps.
4) Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The more different kinds of fruits and veggies you can include in your diet, the more different kinds of bacteria you are introducing to your system. A diverse microbiome is a healthier microbiome. That’s why farms with lots of wildlife and farm animals grow better fruits and vegatables – there is a greater diversity of bacteria in the soil!
5) Cut down on sugar, alcohol, red meat, and fried foods. Sorry guys – these foods make your system more acidic, and your life-enhancing good gut flora will have a lot more trouble surviving in an acidic environment.
Still wondering what kombucha is??
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is made from a gelatinous disc of colonized bacteria and yeast. (YUM!) It has a vinegary and some-what sweet taste, and it’s fizzy! You can buy it at the store (I like the GT brand – it has way less sugar than other brands) or you can make it yourself if you find someone with a SCOBY to spare.
I hope you have learned some enlightening information about a vital part of yourself that isn’t actually YOU at all! Self-love and self-care now includes taking care of that part of you which actually has an entirely different DNA – think of it as caring for a close friend or member of your family. Take care of your gut, and it will take care of you.