This is What Matters MostJan 07, 2024
and I’m wondering if this new year has you trying a new diet….maybe experimenting with eliminating certain foods or food groups, or perhaps you watched the Netflix twins experiment, “You are What You Eat” and are convinced that it’s time to go vegetarian or vegan…..whatever the diet or plan, I’d like to invite you to consider this:
Finding the right “diet” or meal plan to help you reach your goals is not a lasting solution. The true path to your wellness and fitness goals is having a healthy and robust microbiome that can take the foods you eat, and turn them into beneficial and usable substrates that create health, longevity, and resilience in your body.
Gas, pain, bloating, food intolerances, IBS, and a high histamine response, weight loss resistance, and all other dis-ease states are simply indicators that your gut microbiome is dysbiotic, meaning: there is an overabundance of harmful bacteria and and under abundance of beneficial bacteria. As surprising as it may sound, the food is not the issue; the microbiome is the issue.
A healthy and balanced microbiome will convert the foods you eat into beneficial byproducts like short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids are miracle-working powerhouses in your gut. They improve insulin sensitivity, reduce fat mass/body weight, improve immune function, reduce asthma and allergies, and reduce the risk of EVERY SINGLE disease.
Conversely, an unhealthy microbiome with an overabundance of pathogenic bacteria will convert the foods you eat into toxic byproducts. These toxic byproducts create leaky gut, which drives inflammation and harms every cell and tissue in the body. Furthermore, the toxins released into the bloodstream through a leaky gut prohibit weight loss and drive hormonal and neurological inflammation as well.
Now, there are certain things that should be avoided as much as possible….these are not true “foods,” in my opinion….and have no place in your permanent diet.
The short list of foods to avoid is:
Inflammatory sugars, processed & packaged junk foods, refined carbohydrates, fast foods, fried foods, artificial ingredients & colors, trans fats, processed oils like grapeseed, soybean, canola, cottonseed, corn, and vegetable oils, and processed meats. These foods are, in fact, anti-nutrients. By definition, an anti nutrient is any food in “that requires more nutrients for the body to use it than the food itself supplies.” I’m sure none of these are a surprise to you, and you likely keep those at bay already.
To support your gut microbiome, which will, in turn, support you wellness goals, you need probiotics and prebiotics.
PROBIOTICS are the trillions of beneficial, life promoting gut microbes that represent a diverse variety of strains. In my opinion, spore based probiotics are by far the best way to introduce specific and carefully chosen bacterial strains into your gut as a means of repairing and rebuilding your internal ecosystem. I work with a lab that is second to none in their creation of spore based probiotics. If you would like to discuss together why these spore-biotics are superior to other probiotics, and how they get to work in your large intestine repairing and rebuilding the structure of the gut as well as balancing the bacterial composition, just reach out: [email protected] and I will happily share.
PREBIOTICS are the non-digestible fibers of the healthy plant foods you consume. These fibers make their way, undigested, down into the large intestine. There, they are consumed and digested by the microbes in the gut….thereby stimulating their growth and activity, and improving your health. Prebiotic fibers are food for your good gut bugs.
Some examples of prebiotic foods and resistant starches are: beets, parsnips, radishes, and sweet potatoes……rutabega, turnips, kohlrabi and fennel…..garlic, leeks, asparagus, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, beans, lentils, whole grains….also, cranberries, pomagranite, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
The list goes on, but start adding these foods to your diet on the daily, rotating and adding new ones each week.
An area where you might get stuck is: although you may be eating healthy plant foods every day, you might be eating the SAME ones day in and day out, which ultimately limits the diversity of gut bugs that you need to thrive. So, your mission is to step outside of your culinary comfort zone. Take that romaine salad with carrots and tomatoes up a few notches and introduce some new veggies.
Of course you can eat these veggies raw….a crudite platter with radishes, carrots, and spring onions is a no-brainer. A roasted sheet pan of beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and turnips is so easy, but a BIG goal is to eat a diverse diet in order to increase the diversity of your gut microbes, so….
Why not add rutabaga, kohlrabi, and celeriac to that sheet pan?? Sure, celeriac is a little gnarly-looking, and kohlrabi might seem intimidating, but peeled and evenly chopped, these root veggies all go nicely together.
Or, how about a spin on mashed potatoes with a root vegetable mash, boasting 4 different root veggies, each offering a different nutrient profile and each one feeding different groups of gut bugs? Try this recipe as a side to your next chicken dish:
ROOT VEGGIE MASH
- 1 pound purple and/or red potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium celery root (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and chopped
- 1 large parsnip, peeled, tough core removed, and chopped
- 1 medium rutabaga, peeled and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt
- Garlic powder to taste
- 1 stick salted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk of choice, warmed
- Freshly ground pepper
- Combine the potatoes, celery root, rutabega, and parsnip and bay leaf in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Season generously with salt and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.
- Drain the vegetables and discard the bay leaf. Transfer to a food processor, add the butter and puree, gradually adding the milk, until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with nutmeg.
(Excessive gas, bloating, or other digestive issues after consuming such fibers indicates a dysbiotic gut microbiome. Start low and go slow when experiencing adverse reactions to these healthy foods.)
Friend, eating is SO much more important that counting calories. You are, indeed, eating to nourish powerful gut bacteria that have the ability to control your metabolism, hunger, satiety, and body mass. THIS is a huge mindset shift because you’ve likely not been taught that you are eating to feed the bacteria in your colon! Again, I want to underscore the fact that DIETS and counting calories are not the pathway to your wellness goals.
Instead of counting calories, count colors. Instead of tallying up your macros, tally the number of prebiotic foods you eat in a day. The only things you need to remove are the junk foods (the anti-nutrient foods) I mentioned earlier….eat clean, organic foods in their whole form, increasing the variety and diversity in your diet every week.
Until next time,
I Wish You Good Health,