The gut is often the last thing on most people’s minds when it comes to maintaining health and wellness. Many don’t realize that the gut influences everything in their body, including weight, mood, and cognitive abilities. Healing and maintaining a healthy gut is essential to improving both physical and mental health.
This guide seeks to educate you on how to improve your gut health naturally by consuming fermented foods. But before we get into that, here are the common signs your gut needs attention.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
The gut is incredibly complex, and many facets of the modern lifestyle, such as sleeping too late, high-stress levels, and eating sugary foods can affect the good bacteria in the stomach. Here’s how an unhealthy gut manifests itself.
If you experience stomach upsets, such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea, you might have irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome usually affects the large intestines when there is an imbalance in gut bacteria. Gas is a sign that the food consumed is fermenting in the gut because the production of acid is insufficient, or there is an imbalance of the bacteria that breaks down the food.
If your diet comprises of highly processed foods with extra sugars, it can reduce the number of good bacteria in the gut. A decrease in good bacteria can cause an imbalance, leading to an increased sugar craving, which further damages your gut.
An unhealthy gut can lead to sleep disturbances such as insomnia that in turn lead to chronic fatigue. Serotonin, a hormone that affects a person’s sleep and mood, is produced in the gut, and an unhealthy gut hinders the production of the hormone hence the sleep disturbances.
Heal Your Gut Naturally
If you’re experiencing any of the above signs, you might need to research how to naturally heal your gut. Below are a few suggestions you should consider;
Reduce Intake of Inflammatory Foods
By reducing the intake of inflammatory foods, your immune system has less workload and can spend more energy healing the gut. Different foods affect people differently, but dairy and wheat are the leading causes of gut health issues. Sugar found in the wheat feeds the harmful bacteria, contributing to an imbalance. It’s advisable to remove any inflammatory foods from your diet to improve your gut health.
The gut’s connective tissue, made up of collagen, forms the barrier between what’s in the stomach and the rest of the body. If the connective tissues are leaking, particles from the gut could get into the bloodstream, which could be dangerous. Low levels of collagen cause poor gut health.
Bone broth made from quality ingredients such as organic poultry is an excellent source of collagen and other minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous, and calcium.
Get Enough Sleep
Lack of enough sleep disturbs your microbiome and digestion. Research has shown that lack of sleep often goes hand in hand with poor dieting, increased weight gain, and increased alcohol consumption. Adopting a healthy sleep schedule by getting to bed at the same time every night and avoiding TV and other gadgets an hour before bed can boost your gut’s health.
Include Fermented Foods in Your Diet
Fermentation is a food preservation process where sugars are broken down by yeast and bacteria. Fermented foods such as pickles are a great source of probiotics because they contain live bacteria. Probiotics are live bacteria that help keep the gut healthy by assisting food pass smoothly through the stomach by stimulating the nerves that control gut movement.
Some conditions that probiotics help treat include;
- Irritable bowel movement
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Infectious diarrhea
- Oral health by preventing bad breath
- Vaginal and urinary health
Apart from probiotics found in fermented foods, the fermentation process also improves the taste, texture, and digestibility of food and increases the concentration of health-promoting components that enrich diet.
How to Ferment Food At Home
Chances are high you’ve been consuming fermented foods all your life without even realizing it. Tea, yogurt, bread, and chocolate all require fermentation processes. It doesn’t take long to learn the process of fermenting food. By learning the basic rules of fermentation detailed below, you can ferment just about anything.
It would help if you observed the highest level of cleanliness during every fermentation stage, especially if you plan on keeping the ferments for long. Neglecting tools, jars, and surfaces can lead to cross-contamination and bacteria build-up. Plus, other than contaminating your ferments, it could shorten the lifespan of your appliances. Always disinfect surfaces and thoroughly rinse tools to get rid of all toxic residuals.
Fermenting must be done at the right temperature to keep the good bacteria in and the harmful bacteria out. Many recipes will indicate whether to keep it warm or cold. Generally, grains such as sourdough should be kept at a constant 21 degrees Celsius. To maintain the temperature, you can place the jars near your water heater or above a fridge. Vegetables, on the other hand, should ferment at a temperature of 18 degrees. You can place your vegetables in a basement or a cool closet.
Traditionally ferments were stored in a cellar or a cold room, but if you don’t have access to either, you can store them in a fridge. Cleanliness should be maintained even when storing the ferments. Don’t use one fork for different ferments.
Now that you know the basics. Here is how to ferment right about anything.
- Purchase organic produce – One advantage of making your own ferments over the store-bought ones is that you can use organic produce. Non-organic produce is grown with fertilizers and often sprayed with pesticides that kill off the good bacteria necessary for improving your gut health.
- Find a vessel – Mason jars are most preferred because they are airtight and easy to clean.
- Purchase a bacterial starter – You need to shop around for an excellent starter, especially from fermentation workshops. A good bacteria is often preferred because it contains potent good bacteria strains that fight off dangerous bacteria.
- Stuff the jars – The final step is to stuff the jar with your vegetables or grains, your preferred seasoning, the starter, and finally cover it with filtered water. Keep the ferment in your preferred location for a week or two, depending on how intense you want your flavor to be.
A healthy gut is easy to achieve, but you have to watch what you eat. Fermented foods aid in digestion and promote general gut wellness. For optimal benefits, you should mix and match your ferments, which means you should strive to learn new recipes.