Updated: Sep 24, 2020
Our gut is probably the most important organ in our body. ‘Excuse me!’ you might add, ‘what about our heart?’ Yes, well, if that stops there isn’t much hope! Much of what goes on in our gut, however, as I have discovered in my research as a Nutritionist, has an impact on the rest of our body and that can be a gradual decline that can take place over a number of years.
When we realise that 70% of our immune system resides in our gut and 80% of serotonin (our happy hormone) is produced in the gut, it’s easy to see that if our gut ain’t functioning our immune system and mental health are in serious danger of being affected. Taking care of your gut is a major factor to maintaining a healthy, happy life. Here’s another thing we also have another organ in our body. It is commonly referred by scientists as the gut microbiome. Our microbiome is a large mass of microbes which co-exist with us on our skin and internal linings in our respiratory and digestive system.
Our gut microbiome is crucial to our health. It is essential that the microbes are of a large variety of species and in large numbers. The main two types are lactobacillus and bifobacterium which come in different types. It’s a bit like people coming in different races. The more varieties of these two we have the healthier our gut microbiome is. Unfortunately, our modern day stressful life and poor choices of foods can affected the numbers of species and the overall number of microbes. This isn’t good for our health. This reduced diversity can allow microbes that may cause havoc in our gut, causing inflammation which may lead to expression of genes that cause chronic illness. A recent study also showed that altering the gut bacteria can have an affect on the onset of heart conditions, which further supports my point that the gut is the most important organ in the body.
One of the main things that I do with clients in my nutritional therapy business, is to address the imbalances in the gut bacteria. Higher levels of certain bacteria and lower levels of others may reflect certain health issues. One of the ways I encourage large diversity of gut bacteria is to introduce or increase pre and probiotic foods in the diet. Probiotic foods are fermented foods and would include sauerkraut, kombucha, yoghurt and kefir. These foods contain beneficial bacteria that can survive the acidity of the stomach and travel to the large intestines. Once they are in the large intestines they offer support to the good guys by crowding out the bad guys, and therefore allowing the good guys more of chance to increase in numbers.
A prebiotic is the food of the microbes in our gut. Our good guys love prebiotic food and the bigger the variety of prebiotic foods, the more different species it can feed. It’s a bit like being a mum were one child likes apples and peas, the other prefers broccoli and sweetcorn, so our different microbes like different foods. Prebiotics are mainly food with fibres that we cannot digest. They love to chew on these fibres and in return they pooped out nutrients like vitamin K1 and B6 along with a whole host of stuff that our body needs to function and survive. Prebiotic foods include onion, garlic, leeks, bananas, berries, Jerusalem artichokes, cabbage and many more.
My absolute favourite fermented food is sauerkraut. The reasons for this are obviously the taste and also they are both a prebiotic food and a probiotic food. It’s a double whammy for me!! Like me, most of my clients are busy, busy, busy and this gets in the way of making their own. As a result, I always recommend Good Nude Food sauerkraut to them. Oh boy, this sauerkraut is seriously good, totally delicious, and the real deal. Buy sauerkraut from a supermarket in the Polish section and it will be full of vinegar and sugar. Vinegar kills the bacteria so the probiotic effects of this are just not there. In Good Nude Food you will find none of these nasty ingredients. And the proof is in the pudding, as they say.
Good Nude Food produce three types of sauerkraut, turmeric and ginger, supergreens with spirulina, and red hot firekraut. My favourite is the turmeric and ginger. Oh boy, am I salivating just writing this. Tumeric and ginger are great for the digestive system and are antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. They may also be helpful in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. The supergreen one is as it says is full of super green vegetables like broccoli and kale, which are full of vitamins and minerals that fuel good health in the body. Spirulina is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It may help to reduce cholesterol. It’s also a good source of protein, especially helpful for a vegan diet which can be low in protein. The firekraut packs a punch for those who like a hot kick. With onions, chilli and ginger to help boost its prebiotic and anti-inflammatory powers, what’s not to like?! Sauerkraut gives you all this and more because fermentation preserves the mineral and vitamins and make them easier for your digestive system to breakdown and absorb, so you get more for your money. It saves big style too on buying containers of multi-vitamins and probiotics. And even more - an 80g portion of sauerkraut goes towards you 5-a-day. So if you are trying to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables then this is a quick and easy way. All you have to do it open and serve and if you are like me you won’t mind what you are serving it with. It’s a win win situation.
As a Nutritional Therapist, when I get people I work with to introduce fermented food into their diet they often see great benefits. They tell me they have calmer digestive systems, that their skin improves, and they feel better for it. I myself have seen many benefits to my health since introducing it into my diet. Interestingly, my husband told be recently that my breathe smells sweeter when I am eating sauerkraut. He’s such a romantic lol!!
My aim in life is to help people nourish their body so that they can thrive. Sauerkraut is an excellent way to nourish the body. The benefits of eating this along with a balanced and nutritious diet are amazing. So, go on treat yourself, you never know how it might help you.
Marie Jarvis, Nutritional Therapist / Nutritionist, BANT