Achieving gut-fulness: Support your 'gut feeling' with yoghurt
Gut-fulness is the latest buzz word in wellbeing and heath but it has some strong evidence behind it. Everyone knows that we humans have a brain but did you know that potentially we all have two brains, or at least two vital organs that control how we feel, act and live. Scientists are beginning to believe that our guts have a far larger influence on our body than previously thought, influence enough to rival the precious brain for the top spot. And yet, we take far less care of our gut - for many this needs to change. Step aside mindfulness, it's time we our guts got some TLC.
It all starts with loving and nurturing bacteria. Our gut has the densest population of bacteria and microbes in our entire body - just a few, at about 100 trillion cells. Collectively these cells are known as our microbiome. Now these tiny little guys are working hard for us and while we always hear about bad bacteria, we can forget about the good ones which play a crucial role in digestion, immune function and weight regulation.
If your microbiome is out of balance, you could experience a range of problems, including abdominal pain, bloating, reflex issues, joint pain, fatigue, headaches, depression and a weak immune system.
So how do we support our microbiome better. Well firstly the bacteria needs back up. When the good bacteria is low we need to top it up with live probiotics (collective term for good bacteria and yeasts) and they’re found abundantly in food. But not just any food. The most probiotic dense foods include yoghurt, some cheeses and fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut. In this post, I’m going to cover the power of yoghurt and how you can make some small changes to your diet to eat more of it.
Yoghurt is one of the richest sources of probiotic and this comes from the process that creates it; essentially yoghurt is coagulated milk fermented with probiotics. When consumed they find a home in your gut, replenish good bacteria levels and even help the body make the most of other nutrients in yogurt, such as calcium. In other words yoghurt is very good for us. But not all yoghurt is created equal. Look at the ingredients list and keep an eye on sugar content.
As a general rule, natural yoghurts have less sugar than fruity ones, however it’s best to check the label - sugar, additives and sweeteners can cancel out the probiotic health benefits in some cases.
Buy the best you can afford and consider adding sweetness naturally with honey if you have a sweet-tooth. Many manufacturers also state the different bacteria cultures used and diversity is usually beneficial so make sure theres a few different ones in there.
So what are some easy ways of getting a little probiotic kick every day using yoghurt. How about a super charged, quick and easy breakfast every morning. Yoghurt is a great breakfast basic because it also keeps you fuller for longer, meaning less bad snacking before lunch for those keeping an eye on their waistline. Try mixing ground flaxseed (a tablespoon will add almost three grams of fibre and approximately two grams of healthy plant omega-3s) into your yoghurt and layering with fresh fruit, nuts and a drizzle of honey. Get creative with pineapple and coconut flakes for a splash of pina-colada sunshine in the morning or maybe a berry blast with some healthy granola and finely diced mint. The possibilities are endless, boring breakfasts step aside.
Another great way to get some yoghurt into you system is with smoothies. Yoghurt adds a beautiful creaminess and also thickens. Quick to make, smoothies are a perfect mid morning or mid afternoon snack, filled with probiotics, nutrients and antioxidants. So raid the fridge or freezer for fruit and veg and start getting creative. Here are some more unusual combinations that really work:
Oats, cinnamon, vanilla, pecan nuts and banana
Beetroot, blackberries and mint
Avocado, banana and honey
Spinach, banana and pineapple
Finally, probiotic rich yoghurt is a great healthy alternative at the end of the day after dinner. You can make a sweeter version of a breakfast bowl with some berries, nuts, honey and grated dark chocolate for the bit of luxury. Or, how about a frozen yoghurt cake filled with natural ingredients and easy to make. There’s a wonderful recipe here for a strawberry ripple version which is definitely worth trying.
These are only a few ways of getting more probiotic dense yoghurt into your diet. With so much processed food, overuse of antibiotics, toxins and intolerances in today’s society it’s becoming increasingly important to support our gut.
We all trust our gut to help us make decisions, so let’s decide to make sure that our gut is always feeling good.