Health

Time to love your tum

Time to love your tum

Your gut is what helps your system flourish, and when things go awry, the consequences could be worse than you think.

The consumption of too much sugar and processed foods, as well as the intake of antibiotics or too many meds all contribute to an imbalance in the gut. This can lead to a host of other issues, the least of which are discomfort, bloating, gas and abdominal cramps.

Poor gut health also plays a role in the management of more serious complications, such as diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.

In fact, illnesses that appear totally unrelated to gut health such as eczema are sometimes exacerbated or even caused by poor gut health management. A whopping 70% of the body’s immune structure is in the stomach, and its microbiota plays a huge role in immune health.

Your unhealthy gut could be the reason you’re so depressed these days.

David Pool and his daughter Julie, owners of Earthbound Organics at the Bahati Centre in White River, know that when it comes to exceptional health and well-being, the natural approach is always best. David has been a herbalist since 1973.

Earthbound Organics began as a hobby, but the years of research, work and experimentation led to a range of herbal mixtures and products which now comes in various forms.

Organically grown, indigenous herbs are predominantly used, and one of the stars of the show is turmeric. Often associated with flavourful Indian dishes or as a spice for cooking yellow rice, we have realised something that the people of India have always known: turmeric also includes health and beauty benefits. It helps with heartburn, reduces gas and bloating and improves the digestion of fatty foods.

David says turmeric has been around forever, but many people are only discovering the health benefits of this medicinal herb now.

“At this moment turmeric is one of the top-selling herbs in the world. Not only because taking it is an excellent way to ensure gut health, but its cancer-fighting qualities make this a very important remedy.

“The herb, used as a spice when cooking, has been found to actively fight the development of the most types of cancers.”

The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin and according to research done by the University of Maryland Medical Centre, the latter acts as an antioxidant, neutralising dangerous oxides produced during metabolism, and aids in the production of bile. In this way, it helps the body digest fat.

Turmeric is also an alternative to cortisone and other drug-based anti-inflammatories which can cause stomach ulcers and general digestive damages.

Julie says if you want to use this spice as an aid to promote gut health, you must remember two things. First, it must be of a good quality. Most that are available in South Africa are imported, irradiated and sometimes even has added colourants. These are put in to make all batches of turmeric look the same.

The other very important fact is that turmeric is not easily absorbed by the body. You have to mix it with something in order for this to happen.

A whopping 70% of the body’s immune structure is in the stomach

“We mix it with pepper, especially cayenne, used in capsule form. Then you get about a 50 to 60% absorption. The cayenne pepper on its own has excellent health benefits. When mixed with a fat (like ghee or coconut oil) as well as kefir, milk or honey, your body has almost 100% absorption,” she explains.

The Pools organically grow their own turmeric, and all the related products they sell are made from this spice specially grown for them in the Lowveld. By doing that, they know where the herbs come from, how old they are and that they haven’t been subjected to colouring or radiation.

Seven ways turmeric promotes gut health
1. Turmeric inhibits enzymes that compromise stomach health

2. It boosts the secretion of stomach mucus, which is the primary defence against damage from gastric acids and other irritants

3. Turmeric helps increase cholesterol elimination by boosting bile production (best when mixed with cayenne pepper)

4. This spice protects the liver cells from damage caused by toxins

5. It encourages the glands on the inner surface of the colon to regenerate and heal

6. Turmeric supports digestion by relaxing the stomach muscles of the digestive tract and gently pushes digested food through the intestines

7. It also discourages gas and bloating.

Other ways of ensuring optimum gut health include the consumption of fibre, lots of it! Fibre-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans, chickpeas and lentils), nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Stay hydrated; insufficient water slows down your digestive system significantly.

Find ways to make it more tasty if you struggle to drink water, but drink it you must!

Take probiotics; kefir is a fermented milk drink which is high in these. It contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly probiotic bacteria which help restore gut equilibrium and fight gastrointestinal diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and ulcers.

It can also help to alleviate allergies, as most allergic reactions stem from a gut imbalance.

Like kefir, Greek yogurt is also an excellent probiotic but check the ingredients, additives such as gelatin are no good, you want milk and cultures. Kombucha is a healthy bacteria which is also an excellent probiotic. It improves digestion, inflammation and even supports weight loss.

Kimchi, an ancient Korean dish comprising fermented cabbage, is an excellent tonic for gut health, as is sauerkraut, also fermented cabbage. Make your own though, the bottled and canned versions are usually pasteurised and the healthy bacteria is destroyed.

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