(My boy and I doing his first trail race at Mt. Washington. Photo by Matt Cecill)
Gut health may not be what a lot of people think about all the time, and frankly it’s not that exciting. Out of sight, out of mind really. What we can’t see is hard to fix, if it really needs fixing.
Gut health can be one of the hocus-pocus things that people seem to get all too over the top about. How do you really know what’s going on in your gut if it isn’t hurting or upset? Billions of little somethings doing things that are good for us, are essential to our survival?
I will get on the health bandwagon with thin evidence for certain things that are a) tasty b) somewhat logical in a healthy way, but when I get specific with our routine to improve our overall health, I look for hard evidence.
Fermented Foods, and specifically the omnipresent Kombucha (and beer too)
Kombucha is widely available. It’s become a huge multi billion dollar business (with big brands now owned by Coke and Pepsi). But why? What does kombucha do for you? It’s said to be the fermentation process, and the bacteria created is the ‘healthy’ part, especially if it’s raw, or unpasteurized. This would mostly be what you’d make for yourself, or chose the right one at the grocery store. But why? What specifically does Kombucha do to make us healthier? I’ve found that the answer is; nothing really.
This is the point. I believe, and have learnt through trial and error, that through constant exercise and eating whole food we (I) can become healthier, fitter, lighter, happier, smarter, etc. However, evidence proves that ingesting prebiotics and probiotics can assist in keeping my family healthy. The evidence is that a healthy gut keeps our immune system healthy and can help build up a weaker system.
The reason that I separate these two things is that I am a big believer that if we aren’t doing the easy things right then the more complex stuff doesn’t matter. By this I mean that nothing can do more for your (gut) health than eating the right foods, cutting out as much sugar as possible, limiting alcohol, sleeping well, exercising, playing, and laughing. From here is where I believe incrementally increasing the strength of our gut helps.
Day by Day
The evidence that a healthy gut can help us fight off the common cold is the main reason that I feed Kombucha (not beer) to my family. They love the taste and it loves them. The added benefit of Kombucha made with Green Tea is a major bonus. Green Tea is thought to be the most antioxidant (free radical fighting, cancer busting) drink available.
(My girl drinking her favourite Raincoast Kombucha – from Powell River)
Now I’m not saying that we drink magic potion and never get sick. During the first few months back to school the colds come, sometimes one after another. What I find is that if we are all focused on gut health then it seems that the intensity and duration is limited. As I’ve already mentioned, nothing beats out exercise, sleep and whole food but I am convinced that either Kombucha and/or fermented foods like kimchi, beets, carrots, sauerkraut, etc help during the winter season.
Buying Kombucha can add up quickly, so we made this informative video with Chef Cosmo Meens that will teach you how to make Kombucha at home, for a fraction of the price.
An excellent resource for fact based information that I use to make food choices is nutritionfacts.org This is a fact based, non-biased, independent website that was made to help people make educated choices for their health. Some of the information is a bit dry and not simple to translate into action but overall it’s amazingly helpful. The leader of the site, Dr, Michael Greger, wrote a book last year called ‘How not to Die“. I’ve read it cover to cover and it’s a road map for how to live a longer, happier, and heather life. I’ve been using the fact based information to help steer the course of our class development, and help us make the right choices when buying and selling our gear.
If you have any comments, or know of another great fact based resource, I would love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment.