Gut health is teetering on the edge of becoming The Next Big Thing in wellness circles, mark my words (or don’t. You know, whatevs.). This topic is less glamorous than organic food and green juice (what, you don’t think those topics are glamorous?) but it is so very important. Why? Because the gut is the concrete slab we lay the foundation of our health on. If it’s out of whack, our health will be too. Conditions like eczema, behavioural issues and digestive problems, as well as a whole host of others, have all been linked to gut imbalances.
Our gut contains a complex microcosm of bacteria that, when in balance, provide us with vibrant health. Our immune system is stimulated by good bacteria, so it is vital that we have the right balance of bacteria to ensure we can fight infection. And get this, you guys: after just one dose of antibiotics it can take 16 weeks for your internal flora to rebalance. 16 weeks! That’s a long time for your gut to be out of whack and your immune system to be out of commission.
How can we show our gut some lovin’? We all know that the most important part of a gut-health protocol is probiotics. The word probiotic actually comes from two Greek words that mean “for life”. That’s a pretty clear indication of how important this stuff is. While your garden-variety probiotic tablet is great for maintaining an already-balanced gut, to rectify an imbalance it just won’t cut the mustard (or bad bacteria, as it were). This is where my good friends kefir and kombucha come in to play.
Kefir is a drink that is made using kefir grains, which you can buy here. The grains are fermented in either milk (I like the coconut milk varieties) or water, making a super-strong probiotic drink. You end up with a slightly fizzy, tangy drink that tastes very similar to unsweetened yoghurt. You can make it yourself or you can buy it premade from any good health-food shop, which is what I do. It can be pretty intense if you aren’t used to taking probiotics so start slowly and work your way up to higher doses.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been around for thousands of years. It is thought to have originated during the Chinese Tsin dynasty. Kombucha is commonly touted as the immortality tea because of its long list of health benefits, which include improving cholesterol levels, supporting weight loss and, of course, promoting the growth of good bacteria (and inhibiting the bad). Like kefir, you can make this yourself but it has started popping up everywhere, which is fantastic for when you are on the go.
In addition to upping your intake of probiotics, you can speed up the rebalancing process by cutting out sugar, alcohol and processed food for a few weeks.
If you want to know more about the importance of gut health or how to make your own fermented drinks, check out these videos.