So, with this title you might be thinking that I’m going to suggest green tea (ramps up metabolism), celery (more calories to digest than it contains), coconut oil (it’s fat burning y’know) and as much as I’d like to believe dipping celery into a bulletproof green tea might help your waistline, I’m yet to find anyone to do this on a daily basis, but feel free to give it a go. In actual fact, the foods I’m about to recommend have a more indirect effect on your body composition, mood, energy and vitality by feeding your gut flora.
After attending a “Meeting the Microbiome” seminar last week I was reminded (although I rarely forget this) of how important our gut flora (also referred to as the human microbiome) really are when it comes to any health goal. One of my favourite takeaways from the day was not to obsess over whether to be vegan, paleo or a more recent hybrid; pagan, but rather to ask yourself “Have I fed my gut bacteria today?”.
These little fellas make up a huge part of our physical composition. The average human has so many trillions of microbes inside them that it’s believed we’re 90% bacteria and 10% human. Whilst we often think going to the gym and eating kale is helping us burn fat and feel great it is also because it’s having a beneficial effect on the bacteria located in our gut. This little army is then playing a fundamental role in your hormone health, inflammation levels and your mood by influencing neurotransmitters like serotonin. The latter is significant to our health as the more miserable we are, the more cappuccinos and cake we need to get through the day. 80% of our immune system is located in the gut and if we’re immune challenged we feel fatigued, bloated, depressed and struggle to focus on much else!
Good Gut Foods
Our gut flora are designed to thrive on natural foods that haven’t undergone several rounds of processing; meat, fish, eggs, poultry, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. The less you consume ingredients you don’t recognise and limit chemical, man-made food or drink items, the healthier your gut bacteria is.
If we don’t feed this little army they can’t survive and rather than having trillions of different strains of bacteria that can protect us against disease and make sure our metabolism can function, we can end up with a less diverse bacterial balance. If we don’t have enough of the good guys on board then opportunistic bacteria, viruses and parasites can capitalise on the situation and take hold. These activate the immune system causing inflammation and steal all our nutrients, energy and wellness.
Superfoods For Beneficial Bacteria
Most of us are now becoming aware of the benefits of consuming fermented foods. Essentially these are foods that we allow to ‘go off’ and in doing so they become covered in an abundance of bacteria so that when we eat them they help to diversify our own bacterial balance. Kimchi and kefir are often cited as the most studied for their beneficial effect but having multiple strains is also key so it’s important to rotate your ferments! We’re putting together some instructional videos on how to make your own homemade kefir and fermented vegetables for our members in Fitter 365. It’s suggested a couple of doses a day is best for our body.
There is also a type of fibre that our gut bacteria love, the more we feed it, the more different strains of bacteria can proliferate. These are known as prebiotic foods and gut bacteria ferment them. Consuming these foods has been shown to encourage specific changes in the composition and activity of our gut flora, offering a wide range of health benefits including a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as improvements in weight loss.
Prebiotics are carbohydrate compounds that resist digestion by stomach acid and the small intestine and reach the colon where they are fermented by the gut flora. Studies have observed their ability to increase levels of bifidobacterium and lactobacilli and have a beneficial impact on the host.
Foods high in prebiotics have been consumed since prehistoric times and you can pair them with your live fermented foods to create a super strong, fat burning, energising army in your tum. Many experts are suggesting this powerful duo of foods maybe more effective than any supplements you can take. Hopefully you’re now convinced of our need to feed our gut bacteria every single day and are dying to know what these super gut foods are!
Top Ten Prebiotic Foods
The following list offer some of the richest sources of prebiotic fibre and the good news is they’re tasty:
- Root vegetables: Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, beetroot, carrots, turnips and parsnips ,
- Dark chocolate * it’s thought cocoa mimics the effect of prebiotics and probiotics
These foods are really easy to incorporate into your weekly nutrition. Fill an omelette with sautéed asparagus, add garlic and onions to your burgers or as autumn is upon us get the slow cooker on and cook up some soups and stews packed with root vegetables, onions and leeks or roast artichokes as a side dish. One of Matt’s favourite side dishes is savoy cabbage cooked in butter and topped with bacon. Even your desserts can be packed with prebiotics if you add some cocoa or dark chocolate.
Here are a few popular Fitter Food recipes that fit the bill:
- Indian Style Sweet Potato and Onions
- Apple and Rosemary Tray Bake
- Squash Leek and Ginger Soup
- Banana and Cinnamon Loaf
- Dark Choc MnM’s
- Aprichoc Balls
Fix Your Gut Inside And Out With Fitter 365
In Fitter 365 we offer webinars and guidance on getting your gut in shape inside and out! If you’ve been suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, bloating or food allergies and intolerances, improving your balance of bacteria is an essential step to take.
For just £1 you can sign up with no ongoing commitment and get some expert coaching from the Fitter Food team not to mention the incredible Fitter Food tribe who post and offer daily support in the Facebook group, give it a go, you won’t regret it, we promise!