Trust Your Gut

David Beaver

Hippocrates Trusted His Gut And So Should You 

“All disease begins in the gut,” said Hippocrates, a renowned Greek  physician, almost 2000 years ago. Gut health has been at the forefront in recent times for the multiple revelations it’s been making. Many studies  revolving around the human body have been proving the link between  healthy gut health and strong immunity. More and more researchers have  found its impact on overall physical and mental health conditions like  Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune diseases, obesity,  Metabolic Syndrome, Fatty Liver Disease, asthma, allergies, diabetes, anxiety and depression. The gut could therefore be a gateway to  understanding and treating the complex human diseases. 

What is the gut and why is its health so important?  

Technically, the gut is defined as the long tube that starts at the mouth and  ends at the back passage (anus). The organs that make up your gut  include your mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine  and anus. Gut health, on the other hand, refers to the balance of the  bacteria (gut microbiota) present in these different organs which affect the  overall health of a human being.  

While it is easy to associate one's gut health with physical health, it is also  proven that it has a major role in many mental issues. The gut and the  brain are connected physically and biochemically in various ways making  up the gut-brain axis. A poor diet therefore could also lead to a poor brain  which in turn could contribute to issues like anxiety and depression. Looks  like our parents were right after all. Giving those leafy vegetables a chance  won't be a bad idea after all.  

Vegan diet and gut health 

Good gut health is proven to be directly proportional to the diversity of the  gut microbiota, and this could be achieved through a plant-based diet that promotes the development of a diverse gut microbial system. Thus, to  enable the growth of such microbes in our body, it is crucial to have foods  that allow the same.  

Fibre  

To feed the bacteria, it is important to include dietary fibre into our diets.  These fibres are largely indigestible by our digestive enzymes and, lo and  behold, the microbes are summoned to do the job. The microbes then  further break down the components and aid the absorption of vitamins and  nutrients in our bodies.  

Some important sources of fibre: 

  • ½ cup oats = 4g 
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa = 5g 
  • ¼ cup rye flour = 7g 
  • 1 cup cooked pearl barley = 6g 
  • 1 slice wholewheat bread = 2g 
  • 3 cups air-popped popcorn = 4g 
  • 1 cup black beans = 15g 
  • 1 cup cooked lentils = 16g 
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas = 12g 
  • 1 cup cooked navy beans = 19g 
  • 3 tbsp flaxseed = 10g 
  • a handful almonds = 4g 
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds = 10g 
  • 1 cup raspberries = 8g 
  • 1 apple (skin on) = 4.5g 
  • 1 pear (skin on) = 5.5g 
  • 1 cup green peas = 9g 
  • 1 cup boiled broccoli = 5g
  • 1 medium sweet potato (skin on) = 4g 

Source credits: https://www.veganfoodandliving.com/vegan-basics/basic-guides/keeping your-gut-happy-and-healthy-on-a-vegan-diet/ 

Another great source of fibre is Aubergine. They are also low in calories,  making them an excellent addition to any weight loss regimen. The  Szechuan Aubergine Noodles from Root Kitchen comprises of Soba  noodles with aubergine slices coated in sweet rich soy, maple syrup, sesame oil and Szechuan pepper dressing. 

Protein

Intake of protein has been linked to a larger diversity of microbes in the gut.  However, plant-based proteins have an upper hand in the case. Red meat,  for example, has been associated with an increase in levels of  trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a by-product of gut microbe, which is  linked to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.  

Sources of TMAO include: 

eggs (especially egg yolks) 

meat (especially beef and lamb) 

high-fat dairy products 

poultry 

fish 

seafood 

energy drink

Some of the important sources of protein in a vegan diet include nuts, tofu,  beans, lentils, green peas, quinoa, oats, chia seeds, soy milk etc. 

Root Kitchen’s Tikka Masala & Rice meal box is a great source for protein;  made with Marinated tofu, cauliflower, and sweet potato in a creamy  coconut tikka masala sauce with delicious spinach and mushroom Basmati  rice.  

Fat 

Similar to proteins, consumed fat also affect our bodies depending on the  source of its origin. Mono and polyunsaturated fats, found in a vegan diet  can increase the Bacteroidetes: Firmicutes ratio, thereby increasing the lactic acid bacteria. These fats help in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E  and K, as well as regulate hormone levels and blood pressure.  

Saturated fats, found exclusively in animal sources have been reported to  activate inflammation and lead to metabolic disorders.

Some healthy fat sources include: 

  • Nuts such as almonds, pistachios, pecans, pine nuts and walnuts.  However, Brazil nuts, cashews, and macadamia are sources of  saturated fats which are best in limited amounts. 
  • Avocado – a source of monosaturated fat (19%) and vitamin K Chia seeds 
  • Olive Oil 

Gluten-free and low in saturated fats, the Vegetable Jalfrezi & Rice box is  packed with onions, chickpeas, red peppers, and green beans served with  cumin basmati rice. 

Keeping The Gut In Equilibrium  

Apart from helping in digestion and enabling better absorption of nutrients,  the gut microbiota also helps keep the bad bacteria in check. The 

imbalance in our guts caused due to the growth of bad bacteria leads to the  onset of various diseases like Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis and  Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  

A surplus in TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide), which is a by-product of the  bacteria that helps in breaking down foods like red meat or eggs, enables  cholesterol to build up in the blood vessels. Excess of TMAO has also been  linked to chronic kidney diseases. 

Other issues related to an unbalanced gut include obesity, autism spectrum  disorder, anxiety, and depression.  

Probiotics are foods that contain the ‘good’ bacteria similar to the ones  present in our gut. Having food high in probiotics could fix gut imbalances  to some extent by making our immune system stronger. These good  bacteria can be found in fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut,  and pickled vegetables, like onions and gherkins. 

Prebiotics are food that enables the smooth functioning of probiotics and  help boost the growth of good bacteria. They are found in fruits and  vegetables, like bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes and  soybeans. 

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