We often hear the phrase gut health. But what exactly does that mean and how can it be achieved? Veronica Kress, aka “V” of Chef V fame, shares how she’s been able to keep her tummy flat and keep her mind sharp despite the stress of running a demanding business.
Gut health is everything. And by that I mean how you feel mentally, physically and spiritually is directly connected to a tiny universe in your gastrointestinal (GI) system. So if you wanna look and feel your best, you gotta have great gut health.
Whether your skin is flawless or blemished…
Whether you can have a cheat meal and not put on weight or just look at food and feel bloated…
Whether you can concentrate on work for hours at a time without any effort or feel brain fog just minutes into a task…
Whether you feel calm and steady or every day is a roller coaster ride of emotions…
All these wellness factors are determined by the state of your gut.
But what is gut health anyway?
Gut Health, Explained
Have you heard the term “gut microbiome?”
On a simple level, it’s a collection of the trillions of bacteria—both good and bad—that are living rent-free mostly in your large intestine (colon), and to a lesser extent in your small intestine. These bacteria help digest our food.
And while it’s kind of disgusting to think about it, when the bacteria help us digest our food, they poop just like us. You see, when friendly bacteria eat specific types of foods, they produce a healthy type of fatty acid called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
Feeling awesome day in and day out depends on producing enough SCFAs. Most people think that it’s probiotics that are vital for overall health. And by now, who hasn’t heard of probiotic supplements? Probiotics are specific strains of beneficial bacteria that have been clinically proven to offer health benefits to the host (the person taking the probiotic). This assumes the probiotic is of high-quality and can survive the acidic environment of the stomach.
But the surprising thing is that it’s not just the probiotics that provide us with good gut health. It’s their metabolic byproduct (poop), the short chain fatty acids I was just talking about.
Having good health means that you should have at least 85% friendly bacteria. When your gut microbiome is at that level, the friendly bacteria prevent the potentially unfriendly bacteria from crashing the party in your gut and leading to poor digestion, bad skin, brain fog, infections, and potentially chronic illnesses.
You might think that popping a probiotic pill is all you need to do to achieve great gut health. But that’s only one small piece of the puzzle. Here are 3 things I do to support my gut and overall health.
Organic Green Drink: A Natural Prebiotic
Every morning, the first thing I do after I wake up (and use the potty) is drink water and then have a Chef V Organic Green Drink about 20 minutes later. I’m not using this space as a shameless promotional spot. This routine that Brandon (my hubby) and I have been doing for over the past decade has served us well. Doing this not only continues the detoxification that occurs while we sleep, but it also does our gut good.
The reason why is because the 7 certified organic leafy greens in Green Drink contain prebiotic fiber. You can think of prebiotic fiber as your friendly bacteria’s favorite food. Unlike simple sugars that get digested very rapidly, prebiotic fiber resists digestion and gets gobbled up by friendly bacteria. This helps stimulate the growth of more friendly bacteria.
Many people don’t get enough prebiotic fiber in their diet. Again, you can’t just rely on taking a probiotic supplement, especially if your diet isn’t all that great. By drinking 8 to 16 ounces of Green Drink in the morning—as my breakfast—I know I’m fueling my trillions of friendly bacteria with their favorite food that will help them grow just like breast milk does for a baby.
Fermented Foods: Natural Probiotics
Personally, I don’t even take a probiotic supplement, at least I don’t everyday. I might take one from time to time if I’m traveling and eating foods that I’m not used to. Or maybe I’ll take some in the rare instances I indulge in my vice: french fries. Not that I think probiotic supplements are overrated, I just think people rely on them too much without doing the other things necessary to achieve great gut health.
Instead of relying on probiotic supplements as a magic gut health bullet, I stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in my gut with natural sources of probiotics. I’m talking about fermented foods like no-sugar-added plant-based yogurt (cashew, coconut), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), kimchi (sauerkraut with a spicy kick), and fermented soy like miso.
There is one fermented food that I think is overrated: kombucha. Some brands of kombucha have way too much sugar and they may not contain enough probiotics to contribute to gut health. But there are some brands of kombucha that are low-sugar. Just don’t rely on kombucha alone for adding more good bacteria to your gut microbiome.
Avoid Unfriendly Bacteria Triggers
My third easy tip for having better gut health is avoiding certain foods and drinks that stimulate the growth of unfriendly bacteria. Here’s my “Don’t Eat This” list:
- Gluten (avoid most products made with wheat)
- Dairy (avoid conventional dairy unless it’s made with A2 protein and/or fermented organic, grass-fed dairy)
- Beer (most of which contains gluten)
- Sugar (for the most part, the only sugar I get in my diet comes from fruit; on occasion, I’ll add coconut sugar to my tea or healthy dessert)
So there you have it … 3 easy ways to support your gut. And when you support your gut microbiome, your “feel-good” hormones and neurotransmitters will be better activated. That means a healthier, happier you.
To your health,