We are starting to understand and learn the importance of looking after our gut for our entire, holistic health. The gut microbiome is formed during the first few stages of life and consists of trillions of microbes and bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal tract. These microbes and bacteria are what are often referred to as our ‘gut bugs’ and not only are they beneficial keeping digestion running smoothly, but they also play a role in immune function, hormone regulation, and mental stability. Considering more and more health conditions being linked to an imbalance of the microbiome, we’re starting to understand why it’s so important to maintain the health of our guts.
When working with clients to support their gut health, we often focus on their digestive system as the first step to understand their symptoms and conditions. I frequently see complexities in gut health and digestion when supporting skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis as well as in those who find difficulty in managing their energy levels through the day, sleeping well or with seasonal allergies such as hay fever.
Establishing the healthy foundations of a healthy gut starts with a wholefood, nourishing diet. This doesn’t mean a vegan diet, but it does mean foods that are from the earth and made with natural plant-based ingredients. These ingredients provide a diverse variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and polyphenols that those ‘gut bugs’ that we referred to earlier thrive off. These foods provide a healthy amount of fibre to keep things moving in the right direction, avoiding constipation and bloating, whilst also assisting in the natural detoxification of waste from our bodies.
I like to think of our gut microbiome as a garden. Once we have set the foundations (the soil) of a healthy gut, we can start to feed it and nourish it (water it) to help it flourish and be the best it can be. Pre and Probiotics are the sunlight and the water to our garden as they feed our gut bacteria, having a significant effect on balancing your microflora. Prebiotic foods such as Onions, leeks, asparagus, carrots, peppers, and sweet potato are rich in prebiotic soluble fibre that set the foundations, whilst fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and tempeh, are all fantastic sources of fermented foods – as well as products that are enriched with live cultures – such as yoghurts, probiotic drinks and spreads. Research has shown that a single serving of probiotic-rich foods can have significant impact on gut health when eaten daily.
Within the list of fermented foods is Kefir and Yoghurt, which are two ingredients I often recommend to my clients. Traditionally made using fermented dairy, Kefir is staple ingredient in cultures around the world it is nutritionally impactful for gut health. Now, with increasing research into plant-based alternatives, there is a dairy free option that is also available replicating the benefits of the traditional drink thanks to the focused ingredient – Coconut.
Coconut works as a wonderful alternative to the dairy option of Kefir, especially for those who may suffer with intolerances and allergies. The coconut milk replicated the similar benefits provided from the full-fat milk traditionally used as well as being delicately sweet but not overpowering.
- Rich in antioxidants – abundant in Vitamin C and E, Coconut Milk supports the gut to move away from oxidative stress
- Electrolytes and fats – coconut milk is hydrating and nourishing to the body thanks to the naturally occurring electrolytes that are present and the healthy fat content that is also seen in full fat dairy milks. Both aids to support the digestive tract whilst preventing symptoms often identified in IBS and further gut-related ailments.
- Maintains the immune system – prehistorically used for its benefits as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, it supports the body to naturally fight battles that may be a result of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
- Skin, hair, and nails – thanks to its high amounts of vitamins and minerals, coconut milk provides nourishment from the root for skin and hair health. The high healthy fat content works to regulate sebum and oil production whilst the subtle antibacterial properties have shown benefit for those who may have been affected by acne.
- Enjoyment for all – gone are the days of being told you can’t enjoy creamy yoghurts and gut loving kefirs if you have an allergy or intolerance to dairy.
About Eleanor Hoath
Registered nutritional therapist (DipCNM) mANP, Eleanor Hoath, has specific interest in skin conditions, gut health and optimising well being. Eleanor also supports clients with weight management, migraines, poor sleep, stress, fatigue, autoimmune diseases and diabetes. Well Nourished Nutrition helps improve the life of clients across the globe. Click below to learn how Eleanor and Well Nourished Nutrition can help you feel your best.