When you think about healing the gut, there are really two main areas of focus: healing and sealing the gut lining and repopulating the gut with beneficial bacteria. One of the best ways to heal and seal the gut lining is with bone broth, which we discussed the last couple of weeks in my post about how to make broth as well as my post on various soups to make with broth. In order to repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria, you want to think about probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria that line your gut and support your body’s ability to fight infections and absorb nutrients.
It seems like everything has probitoics in it these days, but too much of a good thing isn’t necessarily a good thing. You definitely want to be cautious when incorporating probitocs into your diet as an imbalance or too many probitoics can also upset your digestive system and not all probiotics are created equal. Additionally, most probiotic supplements are not designed to travel through your entire system and often times they burn up in the incredibly acidic environment in your stomach. The best way to get ferments into your diet is through food as it travels through the entire digestive system, making sure the beneficial bacteria gets to where it actually really needs to be…the GUT!
One of my two favorite ways of getting probiotics into the gut is through cultured dairy and ferments. Cultured dairy is essentially dairy that has been fermented with lactic acid bacteria. I wrote a blog post about the health benefits of incorporating cultured dairy into your diet where I also discuss the importance of making your own homemade yogurt or kefir. Homemade yogurt is full of probiotics, often times more probiotics than store-bought yogurt due to the fact that homemade yogurt ferments longer than most yogurts sold at your local grocery store. I also share one way to easily make your own homemade yogurt on my site.
In addition to cultured dairy, incorporating ferments like sauerkraut and kimchi, can also be helpful in repopulating the gut with beneficial bacteria and boosting the immune system. It is also helpful in stimulating gastric juices that aid in proper digestion. In fact, I mention kraut is a great alternative to digestive support in my Series to Better Health: Digestion. Often times people are sensitive to sauerkraut or do not like the taste, so I have created a Fennel Apple Sauerkraut Slaw recipe that tastes amazing on top of fish or even mixed in with a salad. You can even get creative here and use your favorite veggies like shredded beets or carrots to help offset the sauerkraut taste.
Remember, healing the gut is a two part process: healing and sealing the gut lining with bone broth and repopulating the gut with beneficial bacteria like ferments and cultured dairy. Have fun with creating your own yogurts or perhaps being adventurous and making your own ferments, let me know how it works for you!