A Good Gut Feeling
When did you last think about what was actually going on in your gut? If you have a cast-iron constitution that can apparently handle anything, you may give it no thought whatsoever. But if you have a ‘delicate’ tummy, it can become a worrisome preoccupation. Although there’s a clear cause-and-effect to what we eat and how we feel (we know lots of sugar makes us hyper and carb-heavy meals send us to sleep) a whole lot of stuff goes on in our gut that’s frankly quite mysterious. But if we gave it more attention, we might just feel a whole lot better.
Bacteria and microbes have a bad reputation for spreading disease and being generally ‘dirty’. But in reality, the vast majority of microbes are good guys, which is just as well, as we’re full of them. Research estimates that there could be as many as 100 million in just one gram of intestinal content and around 100 trillion operating throughout our bodies.
So what are they up to? The primary role of our gut bacteria is to help us efficiently digest food, drawing out all the nutritious stuff and managing the waste. As such, they’re critical for regulating weight and also make an important contribution to the function of the immune system. Perhaps unexpectedly, the brain (which has plenty of other stuff to be micro-managing) doesn’t get much involved in day-to-day digestive operations. Rather it delegates a lot of responsibility to the gut and its microbial population. But the close brain-gut relationship (and the millions of neurons in the gut communicating with the brain) means our bacteria also influence mood.
Giving your gut a helping hand
Keeping your gut in tip-top condition is pretty much all down to diet, though exercise can help, too. If you feed your microbes the right stuff they’ll get the most out of your food, help manage your weight and have a notable impact on your overall sense of wellbeing and vitality. For people with food intolerances, immune disorders and digestive problems, eating foods that promote gut flora can be a critical way to manage their conditions.
As a general rule of thumb, sugary and fatty foods are bad for the balance of microbes in our gut. The ‘good’ microbes prefer a fibre-rich diet and can be crowded out by their ‘bad’ cousins if we eat too much processed food. And that way bloating, wind and an inflamed gut lies.
Foods considered gut-friendly include:
• High-fibre ingredients like pulses, grains, veg and nuts
• Live yoghurts and probiotic drinks
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• Fermented foods like kimchi or kambucha
• Raw milk and traditional cheeses
• Natural bone broth
Here at Coombe Farm Organic we’re big fans of broths. They work perfectly as part of our ‘whole carcass’ philosophy, using up bones that might otherwise be wasted. Slow cooking means that the nutritional goodness contained with the joints and marrow of bones melts away into the liquid so they’re a fantastic way to get an easy-to-digest hit of protein into your diet. We work with The Borough Broth Co. who produce some of the yummiest broths we’ve tasted, all made using organic ingredients and their very special cooking method. So if you haven’t got time to make your own, you know that their broths are as good as homemade.