Goal 9: Add Gut Healthy Food
By now most gut harming foods have been eliminated from your diet. Way to go! You should be feeling better and experiencing a life free from at least some of your symptoms. The constant barrage of missiles aimed at destroying your gut health has been stopped so it can finally live in peace and safety and begin to heal itself.
To heal itself your gut needs three basic things:
1. Discontinuation of ingesting gut harming ingredients (including antibiotics if possible)
2. Ingesting foods promoting gut health
One of the main goals of all of these diet changes is to promote the health of your gut. To be healthy the gut needs a proper balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria. Good bacteria can be destroyed through a poor diet but it can also be greatly affected by taking antibiotics. Antibiotics are designed to wipe out bad bacteria but in the process they can also wipe out much of the good bacteria. In fact, one study showed that it took up to a year for good gut bacteria to be restored after taking antibiotics for just one week (1). Another study showed that children who received multiple doses of antibiotics early in life were more prone to weight gain and obesity later in life (which is often due to poor gut health) (2). Sometimes a course of antibiotics is the best option for treating a serious illness. But if the illness is not serious then consider reconsidering if a few less days of an illness is worth the extra time it might take to get your gut health back on track. Another source of antibiotics to watch out for are factory farmed meats such as chicken and beef.
If unhealthy foods and antibiotics are no longer being regularly consumed the gut will heal itself over time. However, this process can be strengthened and promoted by adding gut-healthy foods such as bone broth and fermented foods. Fermented foods have a natural source of live probiotics and have been shown to increase antibodies and strengthen the immune system along with reducing sugar/carb cravings (3). These include kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, pickles, and pickled vegetables to name a few.
So the goal this week is to add gut health promoting foods. It might take some trial and error, but eventually you will find the 2-3 that work for you. My family loves homemade pickles, pickled vegetables (pepper, cauliflower, carrots) and kombucha. I also eat a tablespoon of sauerkraut from time to time. All of these are actually very simple to make! To make pickled (yummy) vegetables, just fill a jar with vegetables, salt water solution, close the lid, and leave it sit on the counter for four days. That’s it! But if time is still an issue for you health food stores carry properly fermented pickles, kombucha, and sauerkraut.
Bone broth is just as easy to make and helps strengthen the lining of your gut while also providing another source of probiotics (4). My favorite way to make it is with an instant pot but it can also be made on the stove top. Just add bones, water and Wa-La! It can also be purchased at health food stores.
Try and add an easy to maintain rotation of bone broth and 2-3 fermented foods to your diet and give your gut, and yourself, the best chance possible of not just surviving, but thriving.