Does it cost a fortune to fix your gut and get healthy? Absolutely not! You don’t need supplements (although they can help) and eating organic is definitely worthwhile but not essential.
Some of the best foods for your gut can be made right at home, making them cost-effective and readily available, two important parts of any successful lifestyle change.
Our goal is to fix those nagging health problems that are bringing you down and holding you back. Whether it’s poor digestion, yo-yo dieting, a chronic skin condition or mood swings, these foods will help you to get and stay well.
Fixing our gut isn’t an overnight process. It isn’t something we can do with a quick surgical procedure or a short course of magic pills. Antibiotics generally just make things worse. It takes a change in diet and lifestyle that we need to maintain for three to six months and beyond.
Gut Healing Takes Time + Consistent Action
Why? Because the process of healing the gut lining and re-populating the gut with friendly bacteria doesn’t happen overnight.
Throughout the process we need to eat the right foods consistently. This particularly applies to fermented foods like the two below as they contain exactly the kind of big doses of friendly bacteria that we need to rebalance our microbiome.
What’s more, we need to continue eating fermented foods consistently as part of our diet for the rest of our lives if we want to maintain the progress that we’ve made. This shouldn’t feel like a chore once we’ve experimented with different options and found our favourite fermented foods.
These are all good reasons why it’s a good idea to make some fermented food at home, so that we have them on hand, ready to have a little with every meal!
Although it’s true that the gut-healing process takes a while, you may well see some improvement of your symptoms within 12 to 48 hours of introducing these foods to your diet. For example, homemade kefir and yoghurt often remedy constipation and diarrhea quickly.
Kefir is like a drinkable yogurt. It is full of probiotics, complex carbohydrates, and oligosaccharides that feed the beneficial bacteria our gut. This kick-ass combination helps to restore balance to the gut and supercharge the immune system.
However, many forms of kefir that are available in the store have added sugar, which decreases the benefits. It’s far better to make your kefir at home! First you need to track down some kefir ‘grains’, as they’re known, which look something like this:
You should be able to find them in a good health store or from a supplier online. They are also available in powdered form which is a good second-best.
To make your kefir:
a) add 1-2 tablespoonfuls of live grains or a sachet of dried grains into a mason jar.
b) Pour 2 cups of cold or room-temperature (not hot) milk – preferably organic – over them. Stir gently until well mixed together.
c) Cover the jar with a cloth or lid (if using a lid, keep it slightly ajar). Allow the mixture to sit and ferment at room temperate for 24 hours.
d) After the fermentation time, pour the mixture through a strainer to keep hold of some grains. Then drink and enjoy! The grains can be used over and over again.
If you’re dairy intolerant, you may find you can drink kefir with no difficulties as the fermentation process breaks down most of the problematic lactose.
Yogurt is packed full of probiotics and amino acids to heal and nourish our gut. However, many store-bought yogurts contain additives that greatly diminish the benefits. Yogurt only needs milk and cultures to be beneficial. Everything else is a distraction.
How to overcome this pitfall of store-bought? Make your own of course! You can buy starter culture in a health food store or online (see my recommended brand below), or you can simply use a good-quality natural yogurt that contains live cultures.
Follow this simple recipe:
a) Pour the milk into the pot and bring it almost to a boil over medium-high heat. This gets rid of unwanted bacteria in the milk. Once the milk begins to bubble around the edges of the saucepan, remove it from the stove, cover it with a lid, and set aside.
b) Allow the milk to cool for about an hour. Add the starter culture. My favourite brand is Genesis and they make a number of different varieties of yogurt starter, all of which are excellent!
c) Keep the mixture at 40 – 47 degrees Celsius (104 – 116 degrees Fahrenheit) for 8-24 hours. By far the easiest way to do this is with a yoghurt-making machine. They are affordable and easy to use, and maintain the temperature exactly at the level we need. My favourite brands are Lakeland or Luvele.
d) After the fermentation time, keep 2-4 tablespoons of yogurt to one side in a sealed contained. This will stay fresh in your fridge for a week or so, and can be used as the starter culture for your next batch. You can do this 4-5 times before the quality starts to drop off and then you’ll need to use a fresh sachet of starter culture.
The longer we ferment the yogurt, the more probiotics it has. An added benefit is that 24 hour fermentation removes all the lactose.
It is important to introduce home-made yoghurt to our diet gradually, starting from one tea-spoon a day, slowly increasing the amount to one or two cups a day. Our digestive system has to be ready for it!
Yogurt is very versatile and can be served as a desert with fruit and honey or added to smoothies. It also works alongside savoury dishes such as soups and stews. However don’t add the yoghurt straight into a piping hot dish or you’ll kill all those friendly bacteria that we worked so hard to make!
But I’m Plant-Based!
Kefir and yogurt are both still good gut-healing options if you follow a plant-based diet. BOTH can be made with or without dairy. Nearly any non-dairy milk can be fermented including nut, seed, grain, or coconut milk.
Kefir can also be made with coconut water and is equally effective (and delicious) as when made with cow’s milk.
There’s also a version of kefir called ‘water kefir’ that works with a base of sugar water or fruit juice. It contains slightly fewer probiotic strains but is still very effective!
But I Don’t Have Time to Make This Stuff!
If you’re cash-rich but time-poor, it may not be an option for you to make this stuff at home. That’s absolutely not a barrier to enjoying the benefits of these foods.
With some hunting you can find good quality kefir and yogurt in health stores or supermarkets. But if you take that route, you MUST check the ingredients label. If you see a bunch of artificial additives, keep searching until you find a better brand (they’re out there!)
Also if you’re buying any live, cultured product in the stores, make sure it says on the label that it is raw, unpasteurised and/or it specifically mentions that it contains live cultures. The heating process of pasteurisation kills the bacteria that we need!