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.
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.
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
▪ 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.
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.