The thought of millions of bacteria hanging out in our digestive systems is not the most pleasing of thoughts. That’s because we tend to associate bacteria with infection and nasties that invade our bodies. But when it comes to our gut, bacteria are our friend and having a diverse mix of microbiota can help to protect us from a range of illnesses.
From the moment we are born we begin to assemble our own unique array of microbes, starting with those passed from our mothers and growing to a gigantic assortment as your exposure to the environment increases. Scientists are now finding links between this bacteria living in our digestive system – mostly the large and small intestines – and common illnesses or conditions that are prevalent in today’s society. Some of these include:
Obesity – Gut bacteria can affect the way we store fat and also influence our calorie intake. They can also play a role in how our bodies respond to hormones that make us feel full or hungry, therefore affecting the amount we eat.
Metabolic syndrome – This is characterised by a cluster of conditions, including high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. Digestive bacteria can turn fibre from our food into fatty acids and also play a role in balancing the levels of glucose in our blood.
Inflammatory bowel disease – This includes conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Researchers believe people affected by these conditions have fewer anti-inflammatory gut bacteria and a greater number of bacteria that cause the body to attack its own intestines.
Anxiety and depression – The gastrointestinal tract contains nerve endings that send information to the brain and studies have indicated a link between the bacteria within our gut and our mental health.
Arthritis – A high percentage of the population experience painful, swollen joints, yet the cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains largely a mystery. Researchers have discovered bacteria linked to inflammation might live in the digestive systems of people suffering rheumatoid arthritis
Now you know the importance of gut microbiota for our health, what can you do ensure the bacteria living inside you is helping you function at your peak? Eating a varied, nutritious diet high in fibre, fruits and whole grains is a great start. The naturopaths at Mill Park’s Inner Balance Health Clinics can also offer options and advice to improve your digestive colony and help reduce your risk of the above conditions.
Inner Balance recipe
Restorative vegetable detox broth
What better way to help you get through the freezing cold winter months than with this delicious and nutritious soup, which is perfect for your digestive health!
- 1 small to medium leek, sliced lengthwise and well cleaned (use white and light green parts)
- 2 medium carrots
- 3 stalks of celery
- 2 large or 3 medium whole cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 very small or ½ large regular or Japanese sweet potato
- 1 cup winter squash (like butternut)
- ½ a small bunch bunch kale or chard (or a mixture of leafy greens), leaves only
- ½ cup fresh or ¼ cup dried shitake mushrooms (or a blend of mushrooms)
- 1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 large piece of kombu (seaweed)
- 1 or 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, skin removed and grated
- 1 or 2 inch piece of fresh turmeric, skin removed grated (or ½ tsp dried ground if fresh is not available)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 quarts/12 cups filtered water
- 1 Tablespoon of butter or extra virgin olive oil for serving
- Coarsely chop the vegetables into even sized pieces.
- Place all the ingredients except for the butter or olive oil into your slow cooker and add the water to cover. Set to 5 to 6 hours on high or 10 to 12 hours on low. (You can simmer it for longer for a more flavorful and reduced broth)
- (To make on the stovetop) In a large stock pot , cover the vegetables, herbs and spices with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and barely simmer on low for about 90 minutes.
For a brothy vegetable soup with chunks of vegetables:
- Serve as is with a drizzle of olive oil or pat of butter and additional salt to taste.
For a strained broth:
- Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer (set vegetables aside). Salt to taste. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
For a velvety soup:
- Place the strained vegetables and about 1 cup/240ml of broth together into a blender . Add a Tablespoon of butter or olive oil and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Blend on high until liquefied.
- Store broth and soup up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze for up to three months.
**Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Paleo, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free
Yours In Optimum Health
The IBHC Team
The advice/information contained in our communications is intended to be of a general nature and should under no circumstances be substituted for medical advice from your health care provider. We strongly recommend you seek individual medical advice should you require it.