A life defining moment came for me at three years old when I was diagnosed with an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). As a result, I’ve have had a tumultuous relationship with food for much of my life. As a child, many foods that the ‘regular’ kids ate made me feel unwell, and the foods I was told were good for me tasted horrible. It wasn’t until my adult life that I began to respect food for having the potential to nourish and heal, and even more recently, with the help of my Naturopath,Chef and friend, Rhian Stephenson, I have come to appreciate that the healing foods can also taste great! Below, an article by Rhian on some foods you won’t want to miss out on including in your diet.
Listen to Your Gut – Some Superheroes for Maintaining Digestive Health The health of your digestive system is one of the most important aspects contributing to overall health and disease. It is the site for the absorption and assimilation of nutrients, elimination of toxins, is responsible for two thirds of our immune system, and has the power to influence our emotions and stress levels by producing and releasing important neurotransmitters. It even has itâ€™s own nervous system, called the enteric nervous system, which is now being referred to as our â€˜second brainâ€™ – so taking care of this physiological powerhouse should be at the top of our list of priorities when it comes to healthy eating. There are endless amounts of digestive support nutrients that we can take, but luckily some of the best ones for us can be found in foods!
Chlorophyll Chlorophyll is the molecule in plants that help them convert energy from the sun, and it is molecularly similar to the haemoglobin in our blood (the only difference is that chlorophyll has magnesium at itâ€™s core, while hemoglobin has iron), which contributes to itâ€™s role in promoting oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. The benefits of consuming chlorophyll-rich foods are endless: they slow cellular damage, aid wound healing, build the blood, fight infection, improve liver function, and fight inflammation. Chlorophyll is also extremely alkalizing which promotes a healthy gut flora, aiding digestion & elimination. While weâ€™re on the chlorella kick I also need to mention that it contains the full spectrum of amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids for protein synthesis, AND….. it contains more B12 than liver. LIVER! Recent studies have linked IBS vitamin B 12 deficiency, making chlorophyll a must have for individuals with digestive disorders.
Foods that are rich in Chlorophyll include: Kale, Seaweeds, Swiss Chard, Turnip Greens, Spinach, Asparagus.
Prebiotics Weâ€™ve all heard about the great benefits of taking probiotics to maintain a healthy digestive system, but thereâ€™s another class of bacteria that are equally as important – prebiotics. Prebiotics are the nutrients that probiotics feed on, and are necessary for the maintenance of healthy gut flora. The key prebiotics are called Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), Inulin, and Short Chain Fatty Acids. Short chain fatty acids are amazing because along with nourishing the digestive tract, they also promote satiety, or the feeling of fullness, which we could all use a little more of when trying to stick to a healthy eating regime.
Foods that are rich in prebiotics include: onions, garlic, leeks, lentils, artichokes, sweet potato, brown rice, and asparagus.
Chia Seeds Chia seems to be the new it girl on the nutrition scene, and for good reason. Chia, like flax seeds, are high in fiber and essential fatty acids. But Chia is also incredibly rich in antioxidants, making it safer to store for long periods of time without becoming rancid, and unlike flax, it doesnâ€™t need to be ground to make itâ€™s nutrients available. It is loaded with B vitamins and blood sugar regulating nutrients such as magnesium, molybdenum, and calcium, but the best is yet to come – When chia comes into contact with water it becomes a gel, which coats the digestive system with a mucilaginous substance that binds to waste, toxins, & cholesterol. It soothes inflammation and acts as a bulking, lubricant laxative, making it a must have for digestive dependability.
..and if you really want to feel great, Rhian and I are running a yoga, surfing and food retreat in Morocco in November. Her food will leave you feeling full, well-nourished and energised, the perfect supplement to any yoga practice. Keep your eyes peeled for her blog that promises to be loaded with nutritional tips, recipes and more.
See also ‘Gut Feeling’ is Second Brain at Work.