What is Your Gut Telling You - Part 3
The Gut Health Protocol
If you are suffering from gut issues, you are unlikely to be absorbing sufficient essential nutrients from your food, which your body needs for good health. If the gut is not healed, then long-term implications for your health can be very serious. Here is a list of some of my go tos and some of the big no no’s. There are also some useful tips, that may help you on your journey to healing and caring for your gut.
Foods to Avoid
- Avoid gluten found in wheat, rye, spelt, oats, and barley, as it hugely contributes to a leaky gut and triggers bloating. Eating gluten and wheat-free foods should make a big difference.
- Refined sugars encourage fermentation, and growth of unfriendly bacteria in the bowel, so keep refined sugary foods and drinks to an absolute minimum.
- If you tend to bloat a lot after meals, avoid eating fruit directly after a large protein meal, as fruit likes a quick passage through the gut. If it gets stuck behind proteins, such as meat, the fruit will ferment, which adds to the problem. Alcohol, vinegar and most pickled foods contribute to fermentation.
- Any foods to which you have intolerance, will only aggravate the problem; the most common being wheat, citrus fruits and also cow’s milk and dairy products. Chocolate, I’m afraid, should also be avoided.
- Melon is particularly bad for a leaky gut – this should only ever be eaten on its own.
- Generally, fruits such as apples, grapes, bananas and pears, can cause bloating after a meal. Keep these fruits to an empty stomach only. Keep a food diary and note when symptoms are worse, if you need a little guidance.
- Avoid heavy, fatty, large meals, which place a strain on the digestive system and the liver.
- Cut down on low-fiber foods such as sugary jellies, ice cream, burgers, biscuits, cakes, pies, pastries and so on.
- Pineapple is rich in enzymes, which improve protein digestion, making it less likely that undigested proteins end up in the bowel. Eat before, or in between meals, not directly after (ie. Not for dessert).
- Mango, papaya, pomegranate and berries, do not tend to ferment as readily as most other fruits. Eat these between meals.
- Try almond, rice, quinoa or coconut milk as non-dairy alternatives.
- Beetroots, Jerusalem artichokes, peas, radishes, celeriac and dandelion are all good liver cleansers, which help digestion. Beans, pulses, lentils are all good gut food. They contain inulin, which helps encourage the growth of bifidus within the large bowel. This helps to reduce the load on the liver.
- Raw sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, flaxseeds, plus nuts are all rich in fiber.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Organic source chlorella is a great way to detoxify the system. Stir into smoothies or juice, or sprinkle over cereals and fruit salads.
- Use fresh ginger root in your cooking, which soothes and heals the gut.
- Green cabbage is rich in the amino acid L-glutamine, which helps to heal a leaky gut. Eat more raw or steamed cabbage and use the liquid from cooking to make sauces.
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables; and if you eat fruit, eat it between meals or for breakfast.
- Try quinoa, buckwheat, millet and brown rice.
- Drink more organic green and white teas, which are high in anti-oxidants.
Eat wholefoods: I simply can’t emphasize this enough. Avoid processed foods and stick to lean, organic proteins, healthy fats, plenty of greens, nuts, seeds and pulses.
Chew well: The first step in the digestion process is chewing food properly. When we chew our food, our saliva coats the food and sends signals to the brain, to prepare for the digestive process. Once food enters the stomach, hydrochloric acid and enzymes work to break it down into small particles, which travel to the small intestine and allow the nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Trial a gluten-free diet: I encourage many of my clients to give up gluten for a trial period of two to four weeks. Try this and see how your body responds. In my experience, many people report feeling lighter without gluten; their gut functions better and their energy starts to increase. If you do decide to go gluten-free, I recommend avoiding processed foods and sticking to whole foods.
Limit caffeine intake: Consuming too much caffeine can cause a spike in cortisol, so I recommend having one coffee a day, after breakfast, and before 10am.
Avoid processed food: This includes refined sugar, pre-packaged foods, fizzy drinks, chewing gum and artificial sweeteners.
Enjoy probiotic-rich foods: Fermented foods, such as kombucha, sauerkraut and kefir, are great for the gut. They reduce inflammation, support digestion and enhance the metabolism.
Optimize digestive enzymes: Having good amounts of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, help to break down food, thereby aiding digestion. I recommend sipping on two liters of water, with a dash of apple cider vinegar added, throughout the day.
Keep a 20-minute gap between eating and drinking: When you drink just before eating, it dilutes the gastric juices and inhibits proper absorption. I recommend having two glasses of water, 20 minutes before each meal, to keep you hydrated.
Maintain a range of healthy bacteria: Your gut holds trillions of bacteria, that help you to process your food, produce those crucial nutrients and fight disease.
Eliminate stress: When released into the body in high amounts, the stress hormones – adrenalin and cortisol – cause the digestive system to shut down, thereby wreaking havoc on the body. I recommend taking at least 20 minutes each day, to rest without distractions, such as your phone or emails. Try restorative and calming practices, such as getting to bed early, a warm bath with Epsom salts, yoga, a walk and meditating.
- Take a digestive enzyme capsule with meals.
- Take a high strength, easily absorbable multi-vitamin and mineral supplement daily.
- The supplement L-glutamine (an amino acid) will help to heal the gut wonderfully.
- Enjoy gut-soothing herbal teas like peppermint, ginger and dandelion.
Foods for optimal everyday gut health
We don’t all need to follow a strict gut protocol 24/7, all year round, but doing so can be very beneficial to those that suspect they may have a leaky gut. It’s very wise to incorporate and follow my shopping list for taking care of that gut every day.
Your gut-healthy shopping list should include plenty of the following, along with foods from the gut protocol: An abundance of fresh fruit and veg: Leafy greens and salad - lettuce, watercress, cucumbers, celery, spinach, kale, tomatoes, radishes, raw sprouts. Colorful root veg - sweet potatoes, carrots, beetroot, parsnips, swede, squash, pumpkins.
Clean proteins: Organic lamb, organic free-range turkey, legumes, beans, peas, soya beans, free range organic eggs (if you can tolerate them and don’t suspect sensitivity), tempeh and organic tofu.
Healthy fats: Extra virgin olive oil, avocadoes, nuts, seeds, nut butters, full fat organic yogurt (always unsweetened), hummus.
Gluten-free grains: Millet, buckwheat, gluten-free oats, black rice, brown rice, quinoa. When baking, there are wonderful alternatives such as almond flour, chickpea flour, coconut flour, buckwheat flour and gluten-free plain flour. These are also great for making gut-friendly gluten-free breads.
Herbal teas: Brilliant for gut health and for overall digestion, especially after (20 minutes after!) a meal.
I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite go-to (gluten free!!) bread recipes. This is just delicious loaded with avocado, or with almond butter and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds. It is also especially good with a homemade veggie soup.
This bread is not only delicious, but provides fantastic digestive support, due to its high fiber ingredients, such as sorghum flour and brown rice flour. Resistant starch, such as potato flour, acts as a prebiotic and works to feed the good bacteria in your gut. The addition of psyllium husks and flaxseeds provide mucilaginous fiber, which helps to promote regularity and works to feed your good bacteria.
Gut healing gluten-free bread
You will need:
1 cup of brown rice flour (or other flour of choice)
1 cup of sorghum flour
½ cup of potato starch
½ cup of tapioca flour
2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds
2 tablespoons of psyllium husk powder (most health food stores will sell this, but you can also use flaxseeds)
1 teaspoon of quality fine sea salt
8 teaspoons of gluten-free baking powder
2 tablespoons of organic good-quality maple syrup or raw organic good-quality honey
4 tablespoons of rice bran or organic sunflower oil
2 ½ cups of filtered water
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and cover a loaf tin with baking paper.
Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and use a spoon to combine well.
In another medium-sized bowl, mix together the filtered water, maple syrup and oil. Whisk together, then pour half of the liquid into the dry mixture and whisk well with a fork.
Pour the remaining liquid into the mixture and continue whisking well, until combined and fluffy. You may need to also use a spoon to smooth out any flour pockets.
Leave to rest for 5 minutes, as this will give time for the mixture to thicken (it should be slightly thick and sticky). Pour the mixture into the loaf tin with the baking paper.
Use a spatula or spoon to ensure the mixture is even on top and leave for another couple of minutes, before placing into the oven.
Cook the bread for 50-60 minutes (check it at 50!). Then remove, take off the baking paper and return the loaf to the oven for another 5-10 minutes to finish cooking (keep an eye out to make sure it does not get too brown and crispy on top).
If you can resist the temptation, leave to cool before slicing! This bread can be eaten cold, but is tastiest toasted and will last 3-4 days. Enjoy!
Rosemary Ferguson (@rosemaryferguson_) is a successful model of the 90’s turned nutritionist, founder of the 5 Day Plan, co-founder of Pure Filth, author, writer and Mum of three beautiful girls! From a homeopathic background, Rosemary has always had an interest in what food can do for you, this lead to her studying at The College of Naturopathic Medicine. She is now qualified in naturopathy and nutrition and runs a clinic London.