How to Prevent Disease with Nutrition + My Favorite Super Meal Recipe!
The gut microbiome is a complex community of microbial organisms that live in our digestive tract. These microbes perform many different functions, including digesting food and synthesizing vitamins. In recent years, studies have shown that a healthy gut microbiome can play an important role in preventing diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease—and even mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. It's possible to improve your overall health by eating the right foods and taking certain supplements or probiotics (live bacteria) on a daily basis.
Improve your diet.
You can improve your diet in a number of ways, and you’ll have to determine which way(s) yours can be improved in order to have a healthy gut.
One way would be to eat a wide variety of foods, so if you’re a creature of habit and used to eating the same things every day or week, then start venturing out a bit.
Another way would be to eat foods that are high in fiber, like vegetables and legumes. I know even for some adults vegetables are not desirable, but they are essential.
Another way is to avoid processed foods, as they tend to be unhealthy for our bodies because of the additives used in them (such as sodium nitrate).
You might also consider eating prebiotics, which are fiber-rich foods that specifically help promote gut health (like bananas).
It's important not to forget about reducing stress levels—stress can have very negative effects on your body over time! Exercise regularly and stay hydrated as well, which I talk about in more detail below.
Eat a wide array of foods.
In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul wrote, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” How you eat and what foods you choose can be a source of joy and satisfaction.
But it is also important to understand that eating is not merely about pleasure; it is about health and longevity as well. Many people have found that following a whole-foods diet has helped them avoid common illnesses—from heart disease to cancer—and live longer lives.
The World Health Organization recommends that we get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day (about 400 g). Five servings may sound like a lot—but they are small portions when prepared properly!
Consuming an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables helps maintain healthy levels of vitamins A, B6, C and E, fiber, folate, potassium, iron (especially spinach), calcium (especially broccoli) and zinc (especially apricots).
Avoid processed foods.
Processed foods are by definition refined, which means their nutrients have been stripped away. That's why they're often high in sugar, sodium and fat. Foods that have been stripped of their nutrients are what we call “empty calories.”
They also tend to be calorie dense, so those extra calories can lead to weight gain or obesity—and the health problems associated with it. Processed foods also tend to be low in fiber and high in trans fats (which contribute to inflammation), and this could cause even more problems down the road.
So, how do we avoid processed foods? The short of it is to eat real food - animal and plant based foods. When you’re food shopping, buy vegetables, fruits, and protein sources like chicken breast or salmon filets and look at the ingredients list—you want things that are recognizable rather than things like "artificial flavorings" or "modified starch," which are both highly processed ingredients typically used as preservatives in food manufacturing processes.
Often sugar is disguised as: molasses, glucose, sucrose, dextrose, corn sweetener, corn syrup, nectar, fruit juice, fructose, maltose, and honey.
Get plenty of fiber.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body can't digest, so it passes through your small intestine to the colon. There, bacteria break down the fiber and turn it into short-chain fatty acids, (SCFAs), which provide energy for your cells.
Fiber helps you feel full, so you eat less without feeling hungry. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight by reducing fat absorption and increasing feelings of fullness after eating.
In addition to its role in weight control, fiber is important for digestion because it speeds up the time it takes food to move through your intestines—this helps prevent constipation and diarrhea (among other things).
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that feed the good bacteria in your gut. They're found in a variety of foods, including whole grains and certain vegetables. If a food lists fiber as a nutrient on its nutrition information panel, it probably contains prebiotics.
If you want to get the most out of prebiotics, aim for 25 grams per day—about what's in half a cup of cooked acorn squash or one medium sweet potato—and increase your intake gradually to avoid digestive problems like bloating and gas.
Prebiotic-rich foods can also be used as ingredients in recipes: For example, substituting half the flour in pancakes for mashed bananas gives you more beneficial nutrients without sacrificing taste or texture!
- Stress can affect the gut microbiome and may be a contributing factor to depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.
- Stress management is one of the most effective ways to improve your mood and overall sense of well-being.
- Reduce your stress levels by taking part in activities that you enjoy, such as going for walks or spending time with family and friends (and making sure they’re people who make you feel good).
Try to avoid situations that cause you stress, such as getting stuck in traffic or having a disagreement with someone important in your life. If you can’t avoid these situations completely, try to find ways to reduce their impact on you by taking deep breaths and counting slowly from 1-10 when you feel yourself becoming tense.
What exactly is stress anyway, and how is it best managed?
The simple answer is, it’s a response. Stress is a response to a stressor.
Stress management is accomplished by either reducing, or eliminating the stressor, or controlling the response.
The reality for most people is that our best stress management strategy is a combination of both.
There are some things that we can reduce or eliminate (and we should)!
And, there are ways we can control the response.
Step 1: identify what you can and should reduce or eliminate completely.
Step 2: understand you can only control some things, and be ok with it!
Step 3: start creating habits that improve resilience.
We want to limit the amount of stress hormones being pumped into the gut and into the blood so we can decrease inflammation.
Exercising regularly will improve digestion by increasing the absorption of food, as well as help mobilize food through the GI tract.
This can help you lose weight and improve your mood, soothe stress, and sleep better.
However, the type of exercise you’re doing and when you’re doing it really makes a difference on whether or not you’re actually reaping the benefits of exercise.
Exercise is in-and-of itself a stressor. It’s important to make sure you’re not over-training. Yes, that’s really a thing.
Training with respect to the current state of your nervous system is vital to ensure that exercise isn’t causing you more harm than good. To learn more about this, click here.
The water you drink is critical to your health. Your body needs a certain amount of water every day, and it's important to make sure you're getting enough.
While drinking lots of water can help with a number of things (like preventing constipation), staying hydrated also helps keep your skin looking younger and improves kidney function.
According to the Mayo Clinic, men should consume about 3 liters or 13 cups of total beverages each day; women need 2.2 liters or 9 cups per day.
When choosing which beverages count toward that total, be sure to limit sugary drinks like soda. Fruit juices count toward your daily fluid intake as well—but only if they don't have added sugars!
Alcoholic beverages are fine in moderation—just keep tabs on how many ounces you're consuming so you don't go over your limit for the week; too much alcohol can cause dehydration, as well as other adverse health effects (like liver damage).
Finally, caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, should also be limited because they can increase irritation of already inflamed tissues (such as those in the mouth).
Create a healthy gut microbiome with the right foods and lifestyle choices.
In order to create a healthy gut microbiome, it's important to eat the right foods and eliminate processed foods. Foods rich in prebiotics—fiber-containing foods like whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables—increase the number of good bacteria in your gut.
For example, type 2 diabetes is associated with an imbalanced microbiome; therefore, it might be helpful for those with this condition to increase their intake of plant-based prebiotics. If you're looking for other ways to improve your gut health through diet, try eating probiotic yogurts or taking a high-quality probiotic supplement on a daily basis (about 100 billion units).
A healthy lifestyle also plays an important role in fighting off both infections and chronic illnesses like cancer and heart disease.
Exercise, done well, can help combat stress by releasing endorphins that make you feel happier and more relaxed. Plus, exercise can help prevent constipation, which can cause bloating due to intestinal gas buildup!
Try adding aerobic exercise into your routine at least three times per week for 30 minutes at a time; walking briskly around the neighborhood or taking dance lessons are great options if they fit your personality.
In order to improve conditioning though, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise will not suffice. High-intensity interval training would be best, if it’s truly an interval, and if the high-intensity is appropriate for you.
The gist of it.
To sum up, many people who eat a healthy diet are still at risk for disease because of other lifestyle choices, environmental issues, or genetic issues. But by finding the right foods and lifestyle choices to promote your gut microbiome, you can protect yourself against illness. Chronic inflammation speeds up the rate of decay, and chronic inflammation is brought on by chronic stress, whether it be nutritional stress, psychological stress, or structural stress.
My Super Meal Recipe!
Once a day I have this meal, and it’s usually breakfast or lunch.
I chop up the following:
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ½ an onion(different type each day)
- ½ bell pepper (different color each day)
- 2 mushrooms (cremini, white button)
- 3 - 4 Brussel sprouts OR Shanghai Bok Choy
- Mixed olives
I sauté these in 4 tablespoons of EVOO and let it simmer.
Then I add 4 whole eggs and cook them over-medium. You can scramble them if you like.
I serve it with a sliced tomato, avocado, and a side of couscous or quinoa (½ - 1 cup cooked).
A dash of salt and pepper on top!
Of course, you can adjust the portions depending on your appetite.
- What toxic foods, habits, and people do I need to remove from my life?
- What healthy foods, habits, and people can I add to my life?
- How can I ensure exercise causes more good than harm?
By: Vinny Nuzzo, mr_stress_undone
Integrative Health Coach