By now I'm sure, we all know that doughnuts, milkshakes, soft drinks, candies, pastries, and all other party junk food is full of toxins, chemicals, refined sugars and carbohydrates that are detrimental to our health. But it’s the other 80% of packaged foods on the supermarket shelves that contain the exact same harmful ingredients, but you probably have no idea. And it’s these foods that play a massive role in the damage we are doing to our guts and our brains, in particular our gut lining. But what is your gut lining?
The lining of the gut, in my eyes, has the most important job in the world. Think about this for a minute… We are the controllers of our bodies - to an extent. Once we direct our food into out mouth, chew and then swallow, it is then gone and we don’t think about it ever again after that. So who deals with it from then on if we don’t? We can thank our Trusty Guts for this and the impressive work it does to keep us happy and healthy. Our microscopic gut bugs or gut bacteria work hard to fight off any nasty toxins and chemicals that happen to enter our bodies when we eat processed and refined foods, such as sugar. They grab their pitch forks and charge, making sure they protect the gut lining and ultimately keeping your immune system fit and healthy for the next time you may fall ill to the common cold.
In order for these gut bugs to remain fit and strong, we have to feed them too! They require special types of food called ‘prebiotics’. Put simply, they are good carbohydrates that our bodies can’t digest so that the bugs can happily munch on them for their own health. To keep these gut bugs in balance, we must consume foods rich in ‘probiotics’. These are ‘alive’ foods that actually contain living gut bugs so that when we consume them, they can live in our gut and do the job they were fermented to do. Depending on the type of gut bug they are, determines what their job will be and how long they need to stay in our guts for.
However, if overtime you consume too many nasty foods and not enough essential nutrient rich foods, this can damage your gut lining resulting in what’s called a ‘Leaky Gut’ . This is when the good gut bacteria is outnumbered by the bad gut bacteria. This imbalance causes a miscommunication between the gut bugs and the gut bug defence line begins to fall apart. It also causes our immune system to become impaired, and the next time you fall ill to that common cold, you may well stay ill for longer than you thought. This imbalance ultimately allows the bad toxins, from those processed foods we eat, to seep through the gut lining where it floats inside our blood stream and up to our brain. Those sneaky toxins then have the potential to sabotage the mind - this is how we experience anxiety, depression, ADHD and other mental health disorders. Let me welcome you to the Gut-Brain-Axis.
So what can we do to maintain a healthy balance between our mighty Gut Bugs and get them feeling just as happy and healthy as we ourselves would like to be?
I like to think that my gut bugs and I, are one. In order for ME to feel good, THEY need to be fed good. Here are some steps you can take into consideration when starting your gut health journey:
Seek education/ help on truly understanding what ingredients are in the foods you buy - If you can’t pronounce them, then how do you know what they are?
e.g. refined SUGAR is the key to a damaged gut lining. It is unnecessarily in everything, even in the unexpected and healthy options, and it’s disguised as many different names - don’t be fooled.
You guessed it, eat less refined sugars and carbohydrates. If you are unfamiliar to what these are, please seek education/ help in understanding what individual products will contain such ingredients.
e.g. Cereals, Processed Breads, Deli Meats like ‘Devon’, Condiments, Pasta Sauces, Deep Fried Foods and more.
Don’t be a Vegetable Hater, they are essential to the health, happiness and optimal functioning of your gut bugs.
e.g. If you struggle with eating enough vegetables, or maybe your Mother cooks them so bland, search the almightily Pinterest and get creative with making flavoursome vegetable dishes
Eat more healthy fats!!! I cannot stress this more. Your nervous system is MADE of fat and therefore needs fat to function properly.
e.g. Think of it this way, your nerves are the iPhone charging cord to the brain. If they deteriorate from lack of fat, your brain does not get charged properly and therefore does not function properly - leading to mental health issues.
Consume more Probiotic-dense foods.
e.g. Sauerkraut, Kombucha, Kefir and more.
Consume more Bone Broth - this is the secret to a healthy happy gut!