Stocking your pantry for a healthy digestive system


Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat Granola -


When it comes to health and wellness, taking care of the health of our gut continues to be a hot topic and understandably so. If our gut isn’t happy, for whatever reason, this can affect how we feel physically and can also impact our overall health. There is also a lot of research out there claiming a link between our gut functioning and our overall mood and mental health.


Considering all of this, there’s no denying that digestive health is important but if you were to look online for tips or protocols to improve your gut health, you’d no doubt encounter long lists of foods to restrict, powders to ingest, pills to pop, detoxes to buy and complicated protocols to follow. That can be intimidating!


That’s where we’ve gotten things wrong. Going hard for our gut isn’t necessary and in many cases can do more harm than good. The good news is that supporting a healthy gut can start with a few basic items that you’re likely to already have in your pantry!


So, what are the key elements to a happy healthy digestive system? I know it’s not as sparkly and ‘superfood-filled’ but we’d benefit from starting with the basics.


There are 4 pillars to a healthy digestive system:


  1. Getting enough quality sleep

  2. Reducing stress, however, that looks for you

  3. Exercising by regularly moving our bodies in ways we enjoy

  4. Enjoying a balanced and varied diet (key word being enjoyable).


When it comes to eating well for digestive happiness, in general, any food that starts with our pantry basics in addition to good quality protein such as meat or legumes and some probiotics rich foods are going to make our gut very happy. When it comes to foods that contain good amounts of probiotics, be mindful of different sources to store in our fridge regularly including yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha etc.


Now, let’s stock our pantry!


A close cousin to probiotics are prebiotics. While probiotics are what populate our microbiome, prebiotics are what feed them and keep them happy. In this case, we’re talking about resistant starches and fibre-filled foods. While many of these things may already be in your pantry, take note of ways that we might be able to add in more of the ones that aren’t.


  • Oats and other high fibre grains and cereals. In general, look for 3-8 grams of fibre or more.


  • Wholemeal bread and pasta. There is also pasta that’s been made from legumes and high-fibre blends made with white flour and oats.


  • Wholegrain flours including wholemeal, buckwheat, wholemeal spelt, brown rice flour etc. If you don’t use these kinds of flours often, experiment with baking made from a 50/50 split of white and wholemeal.


  • Chia seeds: Chia seeds are a great source of antioxidants and minerals, they are also high in fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. Sprinkle some chia seeds in your morning porridge or smoothie, or make a chia pudding. I even add it to cooked rice.


  • Dried or canned legumes: Legumes such as lentils and beans are a great source of fibre making them perfect for good digestive health. They are also high in the B-group vitamins, as well as the minerals iron, calcium, phosphorous, zinc and magnesium. Dried split peas are great for winter soups and lentils are a great addition to roasted winter veggies.


Last but not least – I highly recommend stocking your favourite fun foods as well. Why? Because a healthy gut is the result of an unstressed body and enjoying the foods that make us happy along with all the other foods we’re crowding in is important. If the way you’re eating is too strict, this in turn causes stress on ourselves and can impact the health of our digestive system. So, enjoy your treats, whatever they may be and keep that pantry stocked!


You don’t need to detox, you don’t need to restrict your favourite foods. In fact, if you want to have a healthy gut, I recommend being gentler with ourselves. The concept I teach those I work with is that of ‘adding in’. This means, instead of focusing on the food we think we need to quit, spend more time adding in the foods that may be missing from your diet.



 

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