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Keeping Your Gut Healthy

February 20, 2017

Hippocrates — the ancient Greek father of medicine — once said that “all diseases begin in the gut.”

 

We all love to eat dessert.  Some of us also eat too much sugar, or products with artificial sweeteners, throughout the day.  All of this sugar could lead to irritation in the gut, which could even result in developing autoimmune responses (allergies and skin conditions are two milder problems). There’s even recent evidence suggesting "depression is actually your body’s response to swelling in the gut."  And do you think having a "diet" or "lite" soft drink will help?  Using a sweetener such as Splenda instead of sugar?  Suggests have say that artificial sweeteners, particularly Splenda, can cause glucose intolerance (i.e. the pre-diabetic state of hyperglycemia) and even result in weight gain.  "The number of people with digestive disorders (e.g. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, celiac disease, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, GERD, candida and food allergies) is on the rise. Just ten years ago, only 1 in 10,000 people were diagnosed with these diseases, today the number is 1 in every 500."  There's so much to talk about when it comes to sugar, but today we will focus on the irritation of your gut.

 

Bad bacteria thrive on sugar - it is what they eat and by consuming sugar, the bad bacteria will overpower the good bacteria.  The easiest thing to do is not eat any refined sugars like table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. "You should greatly reduce the amount of starches you eat (e.g. corn, rice, noodles, pastas, potatoes, grains, legumes). If you are willing to properly prepare grains via soaking, sprouting, or fermenting, they should be fine as occasional treats. But they should not be the staple of a healthy diet."

 

You should also eat more fermented & living foods.  These foods are

 considered "natural probiotics" and include sauerkraut (try making your own), pickles, chutneys, fermented tofu, black vinegar, water kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and miso.  If you can tolerate it, you can also have fermented dairy products like buttermilk, milk kefir, sour cream, & yogurt (all made via natural fermentation with good bacteria).  Avoid the "mass market" brands that are loaded with ingredients you can't pronounce if at all possible (TIP: avoid foods that require a degree in chemistry to pronounce the ingredients).  All of these help repopulate the gut with good bacteria by replenishing the gut and then these good bacteria eat up all of the sugar in your stomach.  A good food blog called Food Renegade has a listing of all fermented foods here.

 

 

Many of these are parts of traditional Chinese cooking includes ingredients these already, however, as our lives get more and more hectic and good prices rise, restaurants will often opt for cheaper alternatives of the "healthy" products.  In Hong Kong, there have been a few local brands that have popped up offering natural probiotic products.  My favorite is a brand called Quo, which offers a coconut water kefir drink and yogurt product and deliver weekly right to your apartment's door.  Kefir is a type of fermented product that contains significantly more strains of probiotics and other beneficial organisms (over 50) than regular yogurt. "In fact, the cocktail of probiotics, micro- and macronutrients, vitamins and minerals with kefir makes it one (if not the most) of the most powerful foods in the universe."  Although my preference is kefir, another option is a local kombucha (fermented tea) supplier called Taboocha.

 

Removing sugar completely isn't realistic in today's world, but we should do our best.  Adding in more fermented foods will help.

 

Happy eating

 

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