Gut Healing Kimchi Recipe

Inspired by our recent travels, this Kimchi recipe is a great variation on the typical fermented cabbage.

kimchi

Makes 1 extra large jar

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Why Healthy Gut Bacteria is Important

Gut bacteria impacts everything from our metabolism to digestion, mental function and immune system. It’s estimated that our gut actually contains 100 trillion bacteria – 10 times as many bacteria as cells in the human body! These bacteria help to extract energy from the food we eat to build the strength of our immune system to protect against infection and disease.

As Hippocrates, the founding father of modern medicine, said “all disease begins in the gut”. This post covers three key things our gut health can impact.

gut_bacteria

  1. Weight Loss

A change in our gut bacteria can actually cause us to overeat. Studies have shown that the bacterial makeup of obese and lean people is different. When studying the gut health of mice (because, believe it or not, mice and humans have a very similar gut make up) the gut bacteria of lean mice was swapped with the gut bacteria of obese mice. The results showed that the obese mice, with the lean mice’s gut bacteria, lost weight and the lean mice gained weight. It turned out that this was because the bacteria of the gut in obese individuals actually increases the amount of energy (aka calories) extracted from food.

  1. Immunity

Our gut bacteria make up 84% of our immune system. When our exposure to toxins (such as antibiotics, xenoestrogens and probiotic-poor foods) increases, the balance between the good and bad bacteria in our gets out of wack. As the good bacteria are depleted and the bad bacteria take over, inflammation occurs in our gut and cause damage. This is significant because our gut is the first line of defence between us and toxins. Healthy gut bacteria improves our immunity through a number of ways:

  • They strengthen the “netting” of our gut wall (read more about the make up of our guts here) and help to physical protect us from potential toxins.
  • They compete for both space and food with the bad bacteria in our gut. As we mentioned earlier, our gut is home to a sensitive balance of good and bad bacteria. If our healthy gut bacteria is already consuming all the resources (aka space and food) available, there’s nothing left to feed the bad bacteria.
  • They regulate our body’s inflammatory immune response. As you are probably already aware, inflammation is complicated! Good gut bacteria help to regulate our inflammatory response without over-reacting.
  1. Brain Function

The health of our gut plays a role in how well our brain functions. Studies have shown that when more probiotic-rich foods (such as ferments, you can make your own here) are consumed, the cognitive development and sensory processing functions of our brains exhibit positive responses.

You can read more about gut health and how to heal a leaky gut here.

Top 3 Gut Healing Ferments

Fermented foods are great for helping to heal digestive issues, such as leaky gut. Fermented foods contain probiotics and acids that balance the pH levels in our gut and support the good bacteria. And they’re cheap and easy to make!

Make sure you use sterilised jars (or if you want to be fancy, you can use a sauerkraut crock or vegetable fermenter).

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  1. Traditional Sauerkraut

This recipe is a great starting point if you are new to ferments. It’s simple and cheap – and if you’re feeling adventurous, it can be jazzed up with chilli or fennel seeds.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Shred cabbage and place in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cover the cabbage with the salt and massage until the juices are released.
  3. Pack into your jar or fermenter until the cabbage is completely submerged by its liquid. Cover loosely and let it sit at room temperature for at least 1 month.
  4. Once the cabbage is fermented to your liking, move to the fridge and eat.

 

  1. Fermented Carrots

Like the sauerkraut, you can make this recipe as simple or as fancy as you like – we suggest adding ginger to the ferment for a little added kick.

Ingredients

  • 500g of shredded or grated organic carrots
  • 3 tbsp of Celtic sea salt
  • Water to cover carrots

Method

  1. Like the sauerkraut, shred or grate the carrot and place in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cover the carrot with the salt and massage until the juices are released.
  3. Pack into your jar or fermenter.
  4. Because the carrots won’t release as much liquid as the cabbage, add a little extra filtered (not tap) water to make sure the carrots are completely submerged.
  5. Cover with cheese cloth and let it sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks.
  6. Once the carrots are as tangy as you like, move to the fridge and eat.

 

  1. Pickles

We couldn’t have a list of our top 3 gut healing ferments that doesn’t contain pickles!! We love pickles so much that we’ve dedicated a whole blog post to making them.

How to treat Leaky Gut

Unfortunately, western medicine doesn’t recognise leaky gut – there is no standard diagnosis and no specific treatment. What’s worse is that doctors often treat the symptoms of leaky gut, not the condition itself, by prescribing medication which often exacerbates the inflammation and damage to the digestive lining.

Just as there are four main causes of leaky gut, there are four steps to treating the conditions.

  1. Remove things that damage the gut

This includes removing damaging foods (such as gluten, sugar, GMO produce and vegetable oils), exposure to toxins (like antibiotics, pesticides and xenoestrogens) and situations that cause stress (as hard as this can be!).

Toxic Food - What NOT to eat with Hashimoto's

We find that the best way to achieve this step is including more relaxation techniques in your daily routine (such as a 10 minute guided meditation session) and eating real, whole, organic food.

  1. Replace damaging foods with healing foods

Foods that help to heal leaky gut include:

  • Bone Broth – bone broth contains collagen and the amino acids glycine and proline which help to heal the damaged net and cell walls in the digestive tract.
  • Fermented Foods – fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, contain probiotics and acids to balance the pH levels in the gut and support the good bacteria.
  • Raw Cultured Dairy – raw dairy contains short chain fatty acids and probiotics that help to heal the damaged net in the gut.
  • Sprouted Foods – sprouting foods, such as nuts, help the gut break down the food, reducing the amount of work the damaged lining has to do as well as supporting the growth of good bacteria.
  • Coconut Products – the mid-chain fatty acids in coconut are much easier to digest than other fats so they help in the healing process of the damaged gut lining.

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  1. Repair the gut with supporting supplements

Google supplements that help heal a leaky gut and you’ll end up with a very long list. The top 5 supplements we have found to help heal include:

  • Probiotics that contain at least 50 billion units, to help support the good bacteria; these should be varied on a regular basis
  • Digestive enzymes to help break down your food and reduce the chance of partially digested particles leaching into your bloodstream;
  • Liquorice root to improve stomach acid production (but be careful if you suffer from adrenal fatigue / low cortisol or high blood pressure as liquorice root can impact both);
  • L-Glutamine to help repair the net and reduce inflammation; and
  • Quercetin to reduce the holes in the net.
  1. Rebalance

Rebalance with probiotics, real food and relaxation.

 

Just remember: Leaky gut didn’t happen over night so the healing of the condition won’t happen over night either. Be patient and consistent.

 

What Causes Leaky Gut?

There are four main causes of leaky gut – bacterial imbalances, poor diet, overexposure to toxins and poor diet.

Poor Diet

If you have read our other posts about diet, foods to avoid at all costs include gluten, sugar, vegetable oils and GMO produce. These are the foods that damage the net of your digestive tract and cause flare-ups in autoimmune conditions, and when it happens all of the time, leads to chronic inflammation.

The problem with gluten and grains is that they contain a huge number of phytates and lectins (read our posts about these here). This is an issue because a healthy digestive tract is covered in sugar-containing cells that aid in the breakdown of your food. When you eat gluten, the lectin gravitates towards these cells and attaches to the net and damages it, leading to inflammation.

Sugar needs to be avoided as it feeds the growth of yeast, Candida and bad bacteria in our digestive tract which further damages the net by eating holes in it.

Why you shouldn't eat gluten

Toxins

Exposure to toxins, such as antibiotics, foods sprayed with pesticides and water that has been contaminated through chemical run-off can all reek havoc on the good bacteria in your gut and cause inflammation.

Endocrine Disruptors hormones thyroid BPA

Chronic Stress

You probably know by now that we are big advocates of meditation and other relaxation techniques to combat stress. Stress weakens your immune system, crippling your body’s ability to fight off the baddies like toxins, viruses and bad bacteria. As your immune system weakens over time, inflammation can build up and impact the strength of the lining in your digestive tract.

4 stages of adrenal fatigue

Bacterial Imbalances

Our gut is home to a sensitive balance of good and bad bacteria (sounds like that TV ad doesn’t it). As we increase our exposure to antibiotics, xenoestrogens and probiotic-poor foods the balance between the good and bad bacteria gets out of wack. As the good bacteria are depleted and the bad bacteria take over, inflammation occurs in our gut and the net becomes damaged.

What is Leaky Gut?

Hippocrates, the founding father of modern medicine, once said “all disease begins in the gut“. And he was right.

You have probably heard the term ‘leaky gut’ in health blogs recently, but what really is leaky gut syndrome? Autoimmune Disease Leaky Gut Gluten

Medically, leaky gut is an intestinal tight junction malfunction. But since that doesn’t really clear anything up, think about the lining of your digestive tract as being a net that separates the food that you have eaten and your blood stream.

In a healthy digestive tract, the holes in this net are tiny, only allowing specific nutrients through to your bloodstream. However, when you suffer from leaky gut, this net is damaged and the holes are bigger, which allows foreign bodies to seep into your bloodstream.

Unfortunately, as these holes get bigger toxins, including undigested food particles, gluten and bad bacteria, leak from your digestive tract into your bloodstream and cause inflammation. As the inflammation builds up, it can cause an immune reaction, leading to a variety of sensitivities and in turn illness.

Symptoms of leaky gut

The inflammation caused by leaky gut can emerge as the following symptoms:

  • Food allergies, digestive-system
  • Asthma,
  • IBS,
  • Low energy and fatigue,
  • Bloating,
  • Food sensitivities and intolerances,
  • Headaches,
  • Digestive issues,
  • Skin problems,
  • Weight gain,
  • Thyroid conditions,
  • Joint pain,
  • Anxiety,
  • Bipolar,
  • Depression,
  • Malabsorption,
  • Syndrome X, and
  • Other autoimmune conditions.

Generally experiencing multiple food sensitivities and becoming bloated after eating are the biggest warning signs that you are suffering from leaky gut. Another indication you suffer from leaky gut that has progressed is when there is undigested food in your poo!

If left untreated, leaky gut can lead to more severe health problems.

In our next post, we’ll focus on what causes leaky gut.