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Nurturing Your Gut: The Key to Wellness

Updated: Apr 15




When it comes to health and wellness, there's a hidden hero often overlooked: your gut. As a nutritionist and yoga instructor, I'm very interested in the connection between what we put into our bodies and how we feel mentally and physically - you are what you eat. Today, I want to shine a spotlight on the gut, and specifically, how fermented foods and stress management can be a game-changer in nurturing your microbiome (your collection of bacteria residing in the digestive system that you've acquired over your life, starting with the day you were born), and affecting how you feel - both physically & mentally.


The Gut: Your Second Brain

Let's talk a bit about the gut-brain connection. Did you know your gut or microbiome is often referred to as the "second brain"? The enteric nervous system, nestled within your digestive tract, influences not only your digestion but also your mood and brain health. Connected physically through the vagus nerve, your gut communicates directly with your brain, affecting everything from emotions to memory.


The Gut-Mood Connection

A large number of neurotransmitters (feel-good hormones like GABA - calming, serotonin - happy & dopamine - pleasure, motivation & energy) are made in the digestive tract by strains of healthy bacteria or probiotics (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium use nutrients from amino acids, and certain vitamins & minerals like B6 and zinc to make neurotransmitters). Try to incorporate a variety of fermented foods each week to boost your mood!


On the flip side, ever noticed how your stomach churns when you're anxious? Or how digestive issues often accompany periods of stress or sadness? This isn't mere coincidence. Individuals grappling with digestive disorders like IBS, Crohn’s, and colitis often find themselves battling anxiety and depression too. Even gluten sensitivity, beyond its physical symptoms, can cloud the mind with brain fog and fatigue.


The Probiotic Powerhouse

Enter fermented foods – nature's probiotic powerhouse. These foods are a source of beneficial bacteria crucial for maintaining a balanced gut flora. Tempeh, miso, yogurt, tangy sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, and refreshing kombucha are all examples of fermented foods that offer a diverse array of probiotic strains, each contributing to your gut's health in its unique way.



Nutrition for Gut Health

Maintaining a healthy gut isn't just about probiotics; prebiotics play a vital role too. These indigestible fibers serve as fuel for the good bacteria in your gut. Think oats, apples, berries, Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, potato starch and garlic – they're not only delicious but also nurture your microbiome.



Embracing Balance: Gut and Mind

But it's not just about what you eat; how you manage stress matters too. Stress can wreak havoc on your gut, disrupting its delicate balance. As a holistic nutritionist and yoga instructor, I look at the whole picture - diet, quality sleep, stress-coping strategies, daily movement, self-care, and calming breathing exercises can combat stress, and soothe both your mind and gut.



Box Breathing: A Moment of Serenity

Your breath is always there for you. If you're having an overwhelming moment, pause for a few minutes, and try box breathing – a simple yet powerful technique to calm your mind and support your gut. Inhale for four counts, hold for four, exhale for four, take a break for four, and repeat this cycle four times, letting go of tension with each breath.


In Conclusion

Your gut is more than just a digestive organ; it's a barometer of your overall well-being. By embracing fermented foods, nourishing nutrition, and stress management techniques like daily exercise, yoga, and breathing exercises, you're not only supporting your gut but also fostering a harmonious balance between mind and body. So, let's raise a glass - of Apple Spritz (see recipe below) – to gut health and holistic wellness!


Apple Spritz

Ingredients:

1 cup carbonated water (i.e., half a can of natural flavour Bubly water)

1-2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (with the mother)*

1 tbsp. cranberry juice or 1/2 tsp. honey (optional)


Method:

Combine in a nice glass, and enjoy before a meal to improve digestion, support the gut, and stabilize blood sugar.


*I recommend that clients have 2 tbsp. of ACV daily, but if this is too strong, spread out the 2 tbsp. over two drinks before lunch & before dinner.

Cheers!


Contact me to book a FREE 15-minute discovery call to learn more about my Custom Meal Planning Nutrition Program, and how I can help you incorporate gut-friendly recipes into your weekly meal plan.


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