Have you ever been diagnosed with fatty liver, gallstones, IBS, GORD, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, reflux, indigestion or heartburn, gas, bloating, pain, cramps, constipation or diarrhea? These are just some of the myriad of symptoms we can experience when our gut is unhappy!
This may be due to a lack of digestive enzymes in our stomachs to help break down our food correctly – unfortunately, we produce less and less of these digestive enzymes as we age. Food that hasn’t been appropriately digested can cause a build-up of waste in the lower digestive tract and colon that continues to ferment and decay, causing us even further discomfort.
Only 7% of Australian adults eat the recommended 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Yes – you read that correctly!
We may be consuming an excess of sugar, saturated and trans fats, alcohol, artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives (i.e.‘ fake’ foods devoid of nutrients), whilst not obtaining sufficient protein, vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and water alongside complex carbohydrates and fiber to move things along our digestive tracts.
Some people may suffer from intolerances to common foods such as wheat, dairy, soy, and eggs, which may explain some of their digestive discomforts also.
Our lower digestive tract should be teeming with microbial life – of the good kind! The gut microbiome plays a pivotal role in our overall health, especially our immune health. In fact, around 80% of our natural immunity stems from having a strong, healthy gut.
Beneficial bacteria supports our digestion by breaking down food even further (and they even manufacture some of our vitamins!) High-stress levels, antibiotics, and a poor diet can promote the overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria. An imbalance of bad bacteria can contribute to weight gain, high sugar, and high cholesterol levels.
Optimal digestion and elimination should be the top priority on any holistic wellness journey.
[Read: 12 Keys to Healing a Leaky Gut ]
Lowering our stress levels, eating well, and including fermented foods into our daily diet will go a long way to improving digestion, reducing the incidence of developing those uncomfortable symptoms and disorders as listed above, and optimizing our overall health.
We can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in our gut by consuming fermented foods(1) such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha, and kefir. These foods naturally contain billions of the ‘good’ bacteria our bodies need.
One tip is to not only eat more fruits and vegetables but to eat them raw as well. When we heat vegetables in the cooking process, we destroy not only some of the delicate vitamins (such as vitamin c), but the natural digestive enzymes the plant contains also. Hence improving our digestion can be as simple as regularly eating a salad entrée before our main meal.
Another wonderful healing food is bone broth. There are numerous health benefits to consuming a mineral-rich broth containing amino acids such as collagen, glutathione, and glutamine, which essentially ‘heals and seals’ an inflamed digestive tract, lowering inflammation and fighting off infection.
The main difference between stock and a good broth is the length of time you cook it – the longer you cook the broth, the more minerals and healing amino acids are extracted from the contents.
[Read: Health Benefits of Bone Broth ]
Please note I recommend using all organic ingredients, if possible, to reduce the number of artificial hormones, pesticides, herbicides, etc in your gut-healing broth. I save all my organic vegetable scraps and just place them in a freezer bag until needed.
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker or large stockpot with enough water to generously cover all the ingredients.
Bring up to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer slowly for 5-7 hours (or even longer), keeping an eye on the water level, ensuring it is covering all of the ingredients.
Optional extras include additional garlic, onions, herbs, and spices such as turmeric to enhance the immune building properties of the broth. You can enjoy as much of this as you like – drink it as is, or add to any of your savory recipe dishes in place of water to boost its nutritional content.
Natasha Zervaas is the Founder of the Green Secrets Holistic Health Clinic and School. Natasha is a degree qualified Naturopath, Health and Mindset Coach specializing in Adrenal Fatigue (stress and anxiety), Thyroid, hormonal and digestive disorders. Natasha has obtained an Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy, Western Herbal Medicine and Nutrition and is a Professional Member of the Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association.