11.7.2020 – Happy Gut, Happy Immune System
Happy Gut, Happy Immune System
by Traveling Trainers Nutrition Coach Alex Andujar
November 7, 2020 – Another reason you should be eating healthy during the cooler months is the, not as fun, but very important, science-driven reasoning. Your gut health.
Do you remember that song that goes, “The leg bone’s connect to the knee bone. The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone”? Our bodies are truly connected in many ways so I’m going to drop some hot knowledge that you likely don’t know. You ready?!
Your immune system is directly tied to your gut health.
What does this mean for you? Well, first thing’s first – you don’t want to get sick do you? Of course not! I mean maybe you do but if you enjoy being sick I’m going to consider you a weirdo (in the best way possible). I digress. This means that if you don’t want to get sick during the cooler months, you need to make sure your gut health is in tip top shape. A healthy gut means a healthy immune system.
How do you do that you ask? Well, well, well. If you’ve made it to this point I’m willing to bet you can guess how. Did you guess by eating healthy?! Ding, ding, ding! We’ve got a winner!
As I mentioned above, minimizing the amount of ultra-processed food we eat is key here. If you don’t know what I mean when I say ultra-processed, I’m essentially talking about boxed or bagged items that have tons of ingredients in them that aren’t so great for us. Think the delicious stuff – boxed Mac & Cheese, crunchy Cheetos (my weakness), frozen dinners, and the like.
Eating healthy helps ensure the good bacteria in our gut isn’t killed off. To be more specific, you’ll want to add some foods rich in pre and probiotics.
Prebiotic foods include things like garlic, onions, bananas, asparagus, apples, and oats. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it is some of the more commonly consumed foods that contain them. If you’re looking for probiotics, think about fermented foods. Probiotic foods are things like pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, and some cheeses. You can also get a healthy dose of probiotics in liquid form if you enjoy drinking Kombucha (if you live in the metro Kansas City area check out Teabiotics – they’re local and make great Booch).
Of course, you can also take a pre and/or probiotic supplement in pill form. Getting them naturally from food will always be number one, but you do have the option of pills if that’s your jam.
The last part of this is ensuring you’re getting an adequate amount of fiber in your diet. While fiber doesn’t directly add good bacteria to your gut like pre and probiotics, it does help keep things moving in your colon.
Yep – that’s right. It helps you poop. Fiber helps clear out all the bad stuff sitting around your gut. There are a ton of fiber filled foods (say that one five times fast) you can add to your diet. Fruits and vegetables generally contain a good amount of fiber. Most bean and legume varieties are packed with fiber. Another popular option are sweet potatoes. Again, not an exhaustive list, but a pretty good place to start if you need more fiber. Of course, just like with pre and probiotics you can take fiber in supplement form. Popular brands include Metamucil and Benefiber.