Dealing with Stress from your Gut
Research shows that the makeup and diversity of the bacteria in our gut are vitally important to our health, mood, energy, and brain/body function. However, our microbiome is so easily disrupted by circumstances in life: stress, travel, late nights, illness, and much more. A resilient gut is a gut that deals with challenging conditions with no (or minimal) side effects. There are 5 simple steps to creating and maintaining a resilient gut.
1. Purify Your Gut
Fasting purifies your gut of pathogenic and dysbiotic bacteria. Due to the high metabolic rate (ie. the regular and constant need for food) of bacteria, problematic bacteria die off quickly. During prolonged fasting, essential bacteria survive and problematic bacteria die. Fasting is powerful and has been practised regularly throughout history. It has many benefits and has been proven to be extremely safe for most people.
2. Seal Your Gut
After purifying, it’s important to drink bone broth to seal your gut. The minerals, collagen, and amino acids found in broth are essential for your gut lining. It’s important to restore the integrity of our gut lining before nourishing it with wholefoods. Right after a fast is the perfect time to build your gut lining.
3. Seed Your Gut
The food that first goes into your gut after sealing is extremely important. Whatever goes into the freshly weeded and ploughed field that is your purified gut will have the opportunity to thrive. This is the time to nourish your gut with good quality, gut-beneficial bacteria, which can be easily achieved by consuming living fermented food and beverages, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, plain yoghurt, milk kefir, and much more.
4. Feed Your Gut
Now that your gut has been seeded with good bacteria, let’s help them thrive and multiply. Keep those probiotics fed. Prebiotics (non-digestible plant fibres) are essential to keep your healthy, balanced gut microbiome alive. Due to the high fibre content in fermented veggies, they function as both probiotics and prebiotics, which in turn aids in seeding and feeding your gut simultaneously. It is essential to consume a diet high in fresh produce and wholefoods high in prebiotics on a daily basis. There are also specific foods well-known for having extra high concentrations of prebiotics.
5. Maintain Your Gut
To reap the long-term benefits of going through the above program, a thriving and diverse gut microbiome can be maintained by regular Sealing, Seeding, and Feeding, and when needed (during illness, after the holiday season, after travelling, or after a season of poor eating habits, etc.), Purifying.
You’ve heard it said, "you are what you eat", that's not far from the truth. We’re going to do a deep dive into gut health to explore how a healthy gut helps you manage stress, improve your immune system, and overall assist with helping you to have amazing health. Health is dependant on the gut microbiome. We subscribe to the 5 step scientific process called the Resilient Gut framework that, if adhered to, can have incredible effects on your immune system, stress management, weight loss, bodily health etc.
How do we withstand and recover quickly from challenging conditions? A resilient gut is the answer. Our gut is a powerhouse; it’s fundamental in determining our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It drives our immune system, provides us with energy, and even has the ability to determine our mood.
Difficult and challenging conditions occur regularly for our gut. Maybe we’re going through emotional or physical stress, disease, or exposure to environmental pollutants. Sometimes we travel abroad or excessively indulge in highly processed foods or a favourite fizzy or alcoholic drink. Perhaps we are under the pump of an impending deadline for a big project, maybe its the season for festivities, or we're entering a new season of parenthood and feeling overwhelmed and totally sleep-deprived from the constant demands of a newborn. Occasionally we have no choice but to take medication that has a dramatically negative effect on our gut. Inevitably we’ll catch COVID or any number of other illnesses. We need a gut that can handle the challenges that life brings and not only survive, but thrive, even during hardship.
What is a Resilient Gut?
A resilient gut is a diverse gut. The diversity of our gut microbiota is essential. Low diversity has also been found with many diseases such as obesity, metabolic condition, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, obesity, eczema, coeliac disease, and arterial stiffness. Recent research has shown that the severity of COVID-19 symptoms is decreased as gut diversity is increased. Diversity breeds resilience; this is true when speaking about our gut microbiome, agriculture, or the natural world.
Why is Our Gut Microbiome Important?
Our gut microbiome is the foundation of our immune system, but it also has a large effect on our mental and physical energy along with components of our personality. 100 trillion organisms live in our gut, more than 99% of these organisms are bacteria. Together, these gut organisms are known as our microbiome. In a perfect world, our microbiome would be a happy, harmonious place with our gut organisms (microbiota) all holding hands while singing Kumbaya. In the Western World especially, it is so easy to destroy the balance of our microbiome. For the average Australian, maintaining a diverse, balanced microbiome is very difficult.
Quoting from the Journal Frontiers in Microbiology, the authors of the article specify that: “Most of the Human diseases affecting westernised countries are associated with dysbiosis* and loss of microbial diversity in the gut microbiota. The Western way of life, with a wide use of antibiotics and other environmental triggers, may reduce the number of bacterial predators leading to a decrease in microbial diversity of the Human gut.”
That statement is huge! “Most of the Human diseases affecting westernised countries are associated with dysbiosis and loss of microbial diversity...” This is a big problem. Can we do anything about it while still being a functional part of the world?
*Dysbiosis - an imbalance between the types of organisms present in a person's gut that contributes to a range of health conditions
5 Steps to a Resilient Gut
At Gutsy, we subscribe to the Resilient Gut Framework. This framework provides a process to weed out harmful bacteria, cultivate beneficial bacteria, and multiply gut diversity. There are 5 steps to building a resilient gut:
- Purify Your Gut
- Seal Your Gut
- Seed Your Gut
- Feed Your Gut
- Maintain your Gut
1. Purify your Gut
Imagine the pathogenic and dysbiotic bacteria as unwelcome visitors who have overstayed their invite. Rather than leaving when requested, they make themselves very comfortable in our gut. Because we are such amazing hosts, we, much to our disgust, sometimes can’t say “no” to their demands for junk, processed, and sugary foods. We might even secretly enjoy it until these hyperactive, undesirable visitors decide to go around wreaking havoc inside our intestinal walls! It’s time we take a firm stand and no longer feed these unwelcome visitors. No means no. Because these pathogenic bacteria are constantly hungry and needing food, food deprivation is their worst nightmare! That is why purification is the first step.
The, "Bacteria are Hungry," Problem
Once our gut bacteria is out of balance, it can be quite tricky to get back to harmony. Part of the difficulty is that it’s the bacteria in our gut that largely determine what we want to eat and the quantity of food we eat. This means that if we give in once our gut bacteria start telling us to eat junk, there’ll be more hungry bacteria demanding more junk. We’ll then eat a lower diversity of prebiotic foods and the diversity of our gut decreases, now dominated by a few hungry strains of junk-loving pathogenic bacteria.
Currently, antibiotics and other medication are commonly used to treat imbalance or dysbiosis in a problematic microbiome, but this is like fighting fire with fire. Antibiotics are fairly indiscriminate killers, and wiping out huge chunks of the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria has long term consequences.
With a strong will and enough time, it is possible to change the makeup and diversity of our gut bacteria through diet and lifestyle alone. But there is a shortcut with which we can turbocharge the process of clearing out the bad bacteria in our gut. Clearing out our gut is a very important step before rebuilding a flourishing ecosystem of beneficial microbiome.
The Autophagy problem
Autophagy (self-eating) is the process in which our body breaks down (eats) old, damaged, mis-formed and misplaced cells, proteins, bacteria and viruses. As our body breaks down the unwanted bits, it recycles the building blocks and uses them to build new, needed components for our body. If autophagy doesn't occur as regularly or as efficiently as needed we start to run in to trouble. Importantly, autophagy has been linked to the makeup of our microbiome and the health of our gut lining.
The lining of our gut is important as it has to let beneficial nutrients through, while keeping pathogenic, and damaging things in the gut to be expelled. We'll look more at the gut lining the next section. If the gut lining lets things through that it shouldn't like: chunks of food, viruses, bacteria etc, inflammation occurs and the whole microbiome is thrown out of balance. Autophagy has been shown to tighten up the gut lining so that it can do it's job.
Autophagy has also been shown to cleanse the gut lining of pathogenic bacteria and bacteria that are living where they shouldn't be (sometimes bacteria make their home between the cells of our gut lining). Although it's constantly occurring at slow rates, there are some ways we can supercharge autophagy in our body.
Fasting: The Easy Answer
The rough estimate of 100 trillion bacteria found in our microbiome is thought to weigh 1-3kg (the exact number is hard to measure and varies from person to person). When fasting, there is a significant decrease in the number and weight of bacteria. It’s thought that the number of bacteria in the gut can drop by 60% over 3 days of fasting, but it’s hard to measure exactly. Research with hamsters shows that after fasting for 4 days the bacteria in their gut was reduced by approximately 93%.
The bacteria that are first to die off during a fast are the bacteria feeding on sugar and carbohydrates, the bacteria needing the quick carb hit. Fasting for 2-3 days is a surprisingly effective way of killing off pathogenic and dysbiotic bacteria from our microbiome.
Because fasting disrupts our gut microbiome by starving our pathogenic bacteria and reducing our microbiome down to the essentials, research has shown that a new diet started after a fast is significantly more beneficial when compared to starting a new diet without first fasting.
More than this, fasting has been shown to supercharge the process of autphagy. While autophagy occurs at low levels all the time, if we our body has constant access to new food and building blocks, autophagy is sidelined. When we fast so that there's no longer any food entering our stomach so our GI tract has no new food to work on, instead it starts to breakdown all the inefficient and problematic cells, in our GI tract. Depending on lots of factors like: how much we last ate, what we last ate, how physically active we've been and how fast our metabolism is, autophagy can start to ramp up after 14 hours of fasting. Autophagy really kicks into gear after about 48 hours, when our whole GI tract is empty, from our stomach to our colon.
How Do I Fast?
When fasting to purify, it’s important to fast from all forms of energy, especially carbohydrates and proteins. Anything we ingest that provides food for our body will also feed our bacteria to some degree. Even liquid juice fasts have a limited effect on changing gut bacteria when compared to water-only fasting. That is because fruit and vegetable juices contain plenty of carbohydrates and even bits of insoluble fibre that are sufficient to maintain the relative stability of our microbiome.
Water-only fasting is the best way to purify our gut. Drinking non-caloric beverages with a bitter taste during a fast also seems to be acceptable. Beverages such as green tea, black tea, black coffee, dandelion tea, etc. provide no energy so long as the tea leaves are steeped and removed. Teas such as matcha or hojicha that are normally prepared by mixing the tea powder into hot water are not ideal while fasting since the tea powder often contains enough fibre to give our gut bacteria a food hit. Sometimes it’s comforting to drink a warm, flavourful beverage during a fast, especially if everyone around us is eating.
It’s important not to have teas that taste sweet, even if they have no sugar in them. Teas such as licorice tea, honeybush tea, teas with added stevia, or added essential oils can sometimes taste sweet. If our body recognises the sweet taste it can sometimes release insulin, even if there’s no sugar to deal with. This insulin release can knock us out of a fasting state, making it more difficult to continue the fast.
Is Fasting Safe?
Fasting has been proven to be safe, especially if we keep our hydration up and add a little salt to our water. Researchers studied 768 people who had done a water-only fast for more than 2 consecutive days. While there were some expected adverse events such as headaches, fatigue, insomnia, back pain etc., there were only 2 hospitalizations. One hospitalisation was for a 73-year-old man who had fasted for 3 days without drinking anything. He was dehydrated and recovered after being rehydrated. The other hospitalisation was for a 70-year-old man who was found to have hyponatremia (low blood sodium concentration) on day 9 of his water-only fast. This man recovered after being administered electrolytes.
When fasting, we should drink lots of water (or tea). Make sure to add a little salt to the water, especially if we’re fasting for longer than 2 days. Low salt can cause heart palpitations, fatigue, insomnia, and many other problems. It’s amazing how much vital salt we get from food. Without food, we flush our system of salt pretty quickly.
Both religious fasting and limited food supply in rural life have been a part of life for thousands of years. The western diet and an overabundance of food have become problematic for many people. In 2010, for the first time, across the globe, more disease was associated with people having too much to eat rather than having too little. We need to learn to change our relationship with food, both for us and our microbiome.
Other Benefits of Fasting
Fasting is a great way to starve problematic bacteria so that we can start fresh, but fasting also has many other benefits. Fasting has been found to:
- Reduce blood pressure and body weight by changing the microbiome
- Reduce blood sugar levels
- Decrease insulin resistance
- Fight inflammation
- Promote Regeneration and reduce autoimmunity symptoms and Multiple Sclerosis symptoms
- Increase autophagy (clean out the bad and damaged parts of the body)
- Reduce cardiovascular disorders
- Improve short term and long term memory, learning ability, brain structure and function.
- Reduce oxidative stress (which contributes to ageing)
- Manage type 2 diabetes
- Treat cancer
And guess what? Fasting is free!
2. Seal your Gut
As important as our microbiome is, we also need to consider the home of our microbiome, our gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Don’t Ignore Your Gut Lining
The first two layers of our GI tract interact most with the bacteria of our microbiome. The first two layers of our GI tract are 1. Mucus Layer and 2. Epithelial layer. These two layers are the main barrier for our gut. This barrier has to keep the nasty stuff (toxins, pathogens, viruses, etc.) inside the GI tract long enough for it to get expelled while allowing good stuff (fluids, energy, nutrients, etc.) through to be absorbed into our bloodstream and be used by our body.
The Important Mucus Layer
The mucus layer is the very first, and probably most important, defence mechanism to keep the pathogenic bacteria, digestive acids, undigested food particles, bacterial by-products, and food toxins in our gut, where they should stay. If the mucus layer breaks down, problems begin. For example, without the mucus layer, our stomach acid starts damaging our stomach tissue.
The epithelial layer is coated with mucus. This layer has a two-part job, it not only keeps the harmful stuff out, but it also has to allow beneficial nutrients through. The gaps between epithelial cells are known as tight junctions. In the case of a leaky gut, these tight junctions become less “tight” and allow bacteria and toxins to invade our bloodstream. Thus resulting in widespread inflammation and a myriad of autoimmune reactions.
A breakdown in the gut’s mucus layer is becoming more common and has been associated with:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Leaky gut
- Gut infection
- H. Pylori infection
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Autism, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis
How Can we Build our Mucus Layer?
After we haven't eaten for a while, not only do the damaged, inefficient and misplaced cells, proteins, bacteria and viruses start to get broken down through autophagy, but our mucus layer also lessens and thins. This makes sense, why would our body waste energy producing a mucus lining if there’s no food entering our gut? This is one reason that highlights the importance of carefully and slowly introducing food back into our diet.
The ideal way to introduce food into our system after a fast is by the way of bone broth. Bone broth is easily digestible and gentle on the gut. This allows our gut to have a chance to prepare for more food without being overwhelmed. At the same time, proteins, minerals, and short amino acids found in broth provide the building blocks for our gut to produce a thick, healthy, and effective shield for our gut.
Do you know there are 3 power ingredients found in bone broth that assists in sealing the gut? Collagen, found in bone broth, is known to boost mucosal lining and reduce inflammation in the process. Glutamine an amino acid found in bone broth has been shown to dramatically and safely assist in sealing the gut by reducing hyperpermeability of the gut lining. Gelatin, also found in bone broth, effectively reinforces the gut’s mucus layer integrity, which is shown to beneficially change the microbiome.
How Can we Build our Epithelial Layer?
Inflammation in the GI epithelial layer is becoming more and more common. Globally, the number of cases of inflammatory bowel disease increased from approximately 3.8 million in 1990 to 6.8 million in 2017. There are many possible causes of GI epithelium inflammation, including mucus layer breaking down, disease, or a microbiome imbalance. As we looked at in the purify section above, inflammation can be reduced through fasting. When we fast, not only do pathogenic bacteria die off, but also damaged cells and misplaced bacteria are broken down. These things reduce inflammation and prepare our gut to start building afresh.
Research has shown that Glutamine (an amino acid found in bone broth) helps to reduce inflammation in the epithelium. Glutamine has also been found to help “tighten” the tight junctions between epithelial cells, making the epithelial layer less permeable and reducing symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.
Is Broth Good for Anything Else?
At this point, we’ve got plenty of reasons to gulp down that daily cup of broth. But on top of sealing our gut, components of bone broth have also been found to:
Is Broth a New Invention?
Broth has been a normal part of diets for most cultures in the world. In China, bone broth was first recorded as being used for health purposes more than 2500 years ago. Broth has also been used in many other cultures in parts of Asia, Europe, and Africa for thousands of years. It’s delicious to drink and complements many dishes by adding an umami depth of flavour. The easily digestible proteins, minerals, and acids found in broth are hard to find in such generous quantities in other food sources.
What’s Important to Know When Buying Broth?
The health of the animal (of which the bones are used) determines the nutritional quality of the bone broth. Bone broth contains protein, minerals, and amino acids; but it also contains fat. Fat is a storehouse for toxins that an animal may have consumed. That is why it is important to know the origins of your broth ingredients.
First, buy broth made from Australian and/or New Zealand bones. Generally, cattle reared in Australia and New Zealand have a more free-range lifestyle and eat a natural, grass-dominant diet due to the varsity of space and grass available in both countries. Second, look for bone broth that is made with bones from grass-fed animals. Grains (especially in high quantities) are not great for most animals and make the animal more susceptible to infection and unbalanced gut bacteria. Importantly, the grains that are fed to the animals are more often than not sprayed with fertilisers and pesticides, or even genetically modified to incorporate pesticides, all of which are stored in animal fat.
Third, consider purchasing bone broth concentrate as opposed to fresh broth if you can’t prepare your own. Bone broth concentrate can be a more convenient and affordable option than fresh bone broth, plus it has a longer shelf life so it can keep for longer once it reaches you and you open it. Bone broth concentrate has been boiled to the point that there is no (or very little) water left. With a concentrate, you’ve got a jar essentially filled with gut sealing and healing proteins, acids, fats, and minerals. Due to the low water level in a bone broth concentrate, it is room temperature stable for many months and is usually sold at a low cost-per-serve amount compared to fresh bone broths.
Make your own broth or buy Gutsy broth. At Gutsy we’re passionate about producing the bone broth that is highest in proteins, minerals, and amino acids. As the leg bone (A.K.A. marrow) is the most nutrient and collagen dense component of an animal skeleton, we are most particular about using purely Australian leg bones to make our broth.
3. Seed Your Gut
After fasting to drastically reduce the number of bacteria in our gut and sealing to restore the gut lining, it's important to give our gut microbiome a kickstart by seeding it with gut-beneficial bacteria. Don’t leave this part to chance.
What Should I Eat First?
Take care in deciding what food should to put into a purified gut. Whatever we put into our gut first is what starts the garden growing, so to speak. Our gut garden is freshly weeded, cleared, fertilised, and ready to be planted in. We obviously don’t want to plant the seeds of junk food. Just eating fresh fruits and vegetables and hoping the bacteria will take care of themselves is also not the best option, and here’s why.
In 2021 a group of scientists from Stanford took 2 groups of healthy people to study their inflammatory markers and microbiome diversity. Over 14 weeks, one group of subjects added extra high-fibre foods (including fresh fruits and veggies) to their existing diet. The other group added low-sugar fermented foods to their existing diet (including properly fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, etc. The refrigerated kind, not the cheap imported or tinned stuff). Throughout the study, the inflammatory markers and gut microbiome diversity of the participants were measured. Notably, the high-fibre group had increased inflammation and a decreased microbiome diversity. Significantly, the low-sugar-fermented-food group had decreased inflammation and a much broader microbiome diversity.
Fermented Foods are Essential
This is all to say that seeding our gut with probiotic foods is essential for a diverse and resilient gut microbiome, this also has the bonus effect of decreasing system inflammation. Don’t get the wrong idea, fresh fruits and vegetables are also important to eat. The thing is that fresh fruits and vegetables are made up of non-digestible plant fibres (prebiotics) which our body can’t break down, however, our gut microbiome can. It’s probable that the high-fibre participants didn’t have the gut bacteria to deal with all the extra fibre in their new diet. They were feeding bacteria that they didn’t have. Let's make sure that we have the probiotics in our gut by first eating fermented foods before we go overboard on the fruit and veg. This is how essential it is to Seed our gut.
Fermented Foods Are Probiotic
Fermented foods have been a part of every traditional culture throughout recorded history. Even in our own country, indigenous Australians were known to ferment toxic foods such as cycads to make them a palatable and beneficial part of their diet. Traditionally fermented foods work wonders for our gut.
We know that fermented foods are high in gut beneficial bacteria. Research has shown that Portuguese cabbage, when wildly fermented for more than 7 days, can have nearly 1,000,000,000 (1 Billion) bacteria per gram. The same study specifies that vegetables that are higher in sugar, such as drumhead cabbage, carrots, and beetroot, provide more readily available food for the bacteria and therefore produce a more probiotically dense fermented vegetable product.
Fermented foods have also been shown to contain greater bacterial diversity than probiotic pills. Many different types of fermented foods have been tested to contain living bacteria including:
- Fermented beetroot
- Fermented cucumbers
- Fermented ginger
- Fermented olives
- Fermented beans
- Milk kefir
Fermented Foods can also be Prebiotic
We know that naturally fermented foods can contain prebiotics (the food that the probiotics feed on). When we think of fermented food like sauerkraut or kimchi, the fresh vegetables have transformed into an ideal environment for the good bacteria to thrive on their favourite food, multiplying abundantly in the process. Especially when the fermented food is based on fruit, vegetables, legumes, or nuts we can be sure that there is still plenty of prebiotics left to feed the bacteria in our gut.
Fermented Foods are Postbiotic
The latest fermentation “miracle” that scientists are currently talking about is postbiotics. Postbiotics are the by-products produced when probiotics feed on prebiotics and multiply. Postbiotics are thought to be where most of the benefits attributed to probiotics come from. Some parts of postbiotics include vitamins like K2 and B, short-chain fatty acids (helping good bacteria thrive), and antimicrobial peptides (inhibiting bad bacteria from thriving). The area of postbiotics is pretty new; they are known to be highly anti-inflammatory, and guess what? They can be bought as a supplement, however, they’re pretty expensive. The incredible thing about fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso is that they are also extremely high in postbiotics. The longer food has been fermented, the more postbiotics exist with the food. Isn’t it amazing that we can achieve our daily recommended intake of probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics by just consuming fermented foods on a daily basis?
Fermented Foods are Acid Resistant
Sauerkraut and other probiotic foods contain a thriving ecosystem of beneficial bacteria. During the process of fermentation, the good bacteria multiply and propagate as they feed on the food available to them. One by-product of fermentation is acid, this means the bacteria that thrive in fermented foods have to be resistant to acid. There are whole groups of bacteria known as lactic acid bacteria, many of these lactic acid bacteria are produced in every fermented food. Research shows that since fermented food bacteria thrive in an acidic environment, they are also resistant to the acidic environment of the stomach and able to pass through our stomach acid to safely reach our intestines.
The Problem with Probiotic Capsules
While it’s convenient to pop a pill (or three) and get on with life, there are some problems and uncertainties with probiotic capsules.
First, we can’t be 100% sure that probiotic capsules even contain the diverse strains of bacteria that the label says they do. In one UK study, only 3 out of the 7 commercially available probiotics examined contained the claimed number of probiotics, others contained substantially less. In an Italian study evaluating 41 probiotic supplements available in Italy, scientists found that only 5 of the 41 probiotic supplements contained all the different species of bacteria that they claimed. The same study tested 24 samples thirteen months after production and found that only 1 of the 24 samples had the same composition of bacteria as that taken from the manufacturer on day one.
For these two studies, the probiotics were transported and stored according to label specifications, what if the capsules are not stored or transported correctly? High temperatures and UV light are known to be disastrous for the health of bacteria isolated from their natural habitat.
Second, even if the probiotic capsules reach us alive, will they pass through our stomach acid unharmed, ready to work in our intestinal tract?
Thirdly, probiotic capsules don’t come with a handy source of prebiotics and postbiotics.
Why not eat a variety of fermented foods to get living probiotics with the required prebiotics and a bonus dose of postbiotics? Ancestors from every culture did this for thousands of years. Who knows what else we’re missing if we pop a prebiotic pill, followed by a probiotic pill, followed by a post-biotic pill.
What Do We Need to Know When Buying Fermented Food?
- Buy Australian made ferments - imported products have to be pasteurised, which kills off all the good bacteria.
- Buy from the fridge section - living products usually won’t be stored at room temperature as they’ll keep on fermenting, create lots of gas as a by-product and explode.
- Make sure the fermented food is raw and unpasteurised - fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi might taste just as good after pasteurisation, they may also contain the same number of prebiotics and postbiotics, but the probiotics will all be dead from the high-temperature pasteurisation.
- Buy organic if possible - chemicals and fertilisers are no good for the bacteria or us.
- Buy products that have been fermented for as long as possible, the longer the better - we find that for veggies, a month of fermentation seems to be the sweet spot, this means that there are more probiotics and postbiotics available.
- Make sure there’s no sugar or vinegar in the ingredients list - these ingredients indicate that long, traditional fermentation has not taken place. Sugar and vinegar approximate the fermented food flavour without any of the other benefits.
- Don’t get fermented food that has been fermented in plastic - the most common modern fermentation vessel material is plastic. Fermenting food can get to a pH as low as 3 and can leach invisible and tasteless endocrine-disrupting chemicals into the ferments if plastic barrels are used. Make sure to buy food fermented in chemica- free fermentation vessels such as glass, ceramic crocks with food-safe glaze, or oak barrels.
- Buy ferments that are wildly fermented - ferments that have been fermented with specific cultures are usually lower in bacteria diversity and count. Wildly fermented veggie ferments rely on the diversity of gut-friendly bacteria found on the surface of the vegetables which differs depending on the type of veggie, seasons, and soil type. By consuming wildly fermented veggie ferments we expose our gut to a diversity of microbes that thrive in a range of seasonal temperatures and soil types.
You can make your own or buy from our extensive range of fermented food from Gutsy. If you’re new to fermented foods, get started with sauerkraut or kimchi. We’re passionate about crafting the most probiotic, postbiotic, and tasty fermented foods through chemical-free, oak barrel fermentation.
4. Feed Your Gut
We’ve purified our gut from many unnecessary and problematic bacteria. We’ve sealed our gut to make sure we have integrity in our gut lining to keep everything where it’s supposed to be. We’ve seeded our gut with probiotics by eating a wide variety of living fermented foods. Now it’s time to feed our gut.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are defined as, “non-digestible food components that reach the intestines to be consumed by the resident probiotics, providing benefit to the host.” The probiotics in our gut feed on the prebiotics that we eat, allowing the probiotics to thrive and create gut-beneficial nutrients or post-biotics as a result. The food we eat has a direct impact on the bacteria in our gut. If we eat beneficial-bacteria food (prebiotics), we’ll foster good bacteria (probiotics). If we eat detrimental-bacteria food, we’ll foster bad bacteria that dominate and take over and cause long term problems. Eating a constant supply of prebiotics ensures that we keep our microbiome a flourishing, thriving community.
Where Can We Get Prebiotics
All fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, and nuts contain prebiotics to some degree. There are some plants known to be extra high in prebiotics such as:
Some people have trouble eating these extra-prebiotic plants, especially people with IBS and other inflammatory bowel diseases. The reason for this is quite possibly an unbalanced microbiome or an unsealed gut.
Are Prebiotic Powders Any Good?
It is possible to take concentrated prebiotic powders, but it’s usually better to take prebiotics through a normal diet, as a wholefood, in the form of fresh fruit and veggies. Prebiotic supplements are becoming more common, but side effects of regular prebiotic consumption include gas, bloating, and intestinal discomfort. Intestinal discomfort after taking a prebiotic supplement makes sense since our gut bacteria are hit with a sudden, intense, concentrated supply of food. The bacteria gorge themselves, creating gas and other byproducts in the process, and then the food is gone. It’s much better to take wholefoods, which feeds a small, slow, and constant supply of prebiotics to our bacteria.
Many probiotic foods also contain prebiotics. Food containing probiotics and prebiotics is known as synbiotic food, these include:
It’s easy to seed our gut with bacteria using sauerkraut or kimchi while feeding our bacteria with the same food.
If we’re seeding our gut with kombucha, water kefir, fermented vegetable juices (gut shots), or other foods that may not naturally contain prebiotics, it’s important to feed our gut by consuming fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
5. Maintain Your Gut
Once we’ve purified, sealed, seeded, and fed our gut, we’re in a good gastrointestinal place. Following these steps increases the number and diversity of good bacteria while minimising the opportunity for pathogenic bacteria to take hold. Our guts are more resilient. They can better deal with illness and more easily work through less-than-ideal food. When we make an unhealthy choice, or hard times are foisted upon us, our gut can bounce back more easily. A resilient gut, however, is not a permanent state of being. Life is always changing. Diet, stress, toxins, pollution, travel, and other detrimental gut effects start to slowly change our gut microbiome. Of course, minimising detrimental effects minimises change, but things happen and so often we can’t control it.
To assist in maintaining gut resilience we should continue to seal, seed, and feed our gut.
Small amounts of broth, probiotic and prebiotic foods on a daily basis will maintain our gut resilience under most circumstances. Occasionally that’s not enough, and we need to purify our gut and start the process again.
To assist with maintaining our gut it might be useful to make our own fermented veggies
Purify - Twice a year or after disrupting event.
A fast should last for 3 - 5 days for the best effects on the microbiome. 1 - 2 days is beneficial. 3 days seems to provide the lower side of the best effective dose. After 5 days there is limited further effect on minimising our gut bacteria unless we’re battling something quite insidious, like SIBO.
Purifying twice per year is a great baseline with additional fasts after major gut-disrupting events (End of year celebrations, returning home after travelling abroad, etc.).
Seal - 2 to 3 times per week
Drinking broth as our first “meal” after a 3 day fast, or our first 2 meals after a 5 day fast is great.
For maintenance drink broth 2 - 3 times per week. Add it to cooking or have it as an easy "breakfast".
Seed - every day
Have serve or two of low-sugar fermented foods like: sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, yoghurt, cheese, or beverages like: gut shots, kombucha, kefir etc every day to keep your gut well seeded.
Feed - every day
Every day we should feed our gut with prebiotic foods. Fermented veggies like sauerkraut and kimchi are an easy choice as they seed and feed at the same time. It's also important to have other fresh fruits. vegetables, nuts and legumes every day to much sure your gut has all it needs to keep your microbiome balanced and diverse.
To take all the hassle out you could try the specially assembled Resilient Gut Bundle to kick start your journey.