Contraband Ferments is excited to be hosting a new series of blogs this year! We will keep posting recipes and DIY fermentation for you, but we are also adding a series of blogs dedicated to the Human Microbiome, Gut Health, Herbal Medicine, and more!
Our first blog of 2016 is by the amazing Karen Puyleart. Karen and her husband started their cooking blog, Purely Primal, in 2010 after changing their diet in 2009. She is currently working toward her Masters in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. And is based in Vancouver, Washington.
The Human Microbiome: How to keep your gut happy!
A major key to great health is keeping our guts happy! Did you know that over 70% of our immune system is in the gut? Our gut is home to trillions of bacteria who help us to digest food, produce energy, and support our immune system, just to name a few of the important jobs they do. However, there are many things that can damage our gut flora and this in turn keeps our bodies from functioning at an optimal level.
Besides a poor diet, many other effects can hinder our guts. These include, medications, chronic stress, chronic infections, lack of sleep, toxins in products we use, and toxins in the air we breathe. When gut health is compromised then nutrients cannot be properly synthesized, too much oxidative stress is created, and enzyme activity can become impaired. Basically, our cells become unhealthy and in turn we get issues such as autoimmune diseases, chronic infections, allergies, brain dysfunction, acne, and hormone dysregulation. This is a very short list of problems that can occur. There is so much more. This is why attention to our guts cannot be overlooked.
As a nation, we are not getting better. The U.S. has one of the highest cancer rates in the world. Over 65% of American’s are overweight or obese with 1/3 of all diabetes diagnoses being in teens. Junk food is everywhere, is easily accessible, and the quality is poor. However, I feel with attention to just these five areas below, our health can improve tremendously. Below are a few simple ideas in each of these categories that can help get you started on a journey to better health. This is my own personal take on what has helped me and others who have sought my help and here I share it with you. I hope you can learn a few things from it to gain a better understanding of your own health.
Food – Eat anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense foods. This means lots of vegetables, fruit, lean protein, good fats, herbs, spices, lactofermented sauerkraut, and drinking lots of water. Avoid junk food, food that comes in a box, sugar, gluten, dairy, and GMO foods. Plan meals for the week. Keep a food diary to watch for patterns.
Sleep – 8 hours is recommended for recovery for our brain, recovery from exercises, more energy, and strengthening of immune system. A few tips for better sleep are avoiding both electronics and eating right before bed.
Stress- To reduce stress, a few tips are to schedule some personal time for yourself each week, consider meditation, and perform random acts of kindness!
Exercise – Exercise keeps us healthy and feeling younger. To get more, schedule workouts like anappointment, find a friend to exercise with you, and if you have a sedentary job try to move each hour.
Environment – Toxins are all around in the beauty products we use, the air we breathe, and the foods and medication we put into our body. A few ways to reduce toxins are to stop smoking, avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, research ingredients in the products you buy, know where your food comes from, recycling, and reusing.
Here’s to a more healthful you!