Generation after generation, our eating patterns are changing and so is the environment we grow in. Despite the endless scientific and medical breakthroughs, allergies and health problems like irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, autism, ADHD are increasing in an unprecedented rate. With the industrialization of our food supply and highly processed diets, our immune system is suffering. Many diseases that seem unrelated to the digestive system are caused by gut problems.
Basically, your gut wall houses 70 percent of the cells that make up your immune system. The imbalance in the gut flora (healthy bacteria vs harmful bacteria, parasites and yeast) affects your physical and emotional health. In fact, some people refer to the gut as your second brain because it contains 100 million neurons, (more that your spinal cord) and major neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and glutamate exist in the gut affecting your emotions.
In my search about different ways to improve the gut health, I came across Lisabeth Gavins, known as ‘Health Kultcha’. She shares easy and useful tips on how we can improve our gut health. Because I was eager to learn more about how our diet can affect our wellbeing , I interviewed Lisabeth to share with you her healing journey. Lisabeth suffered from chronic asthma for most of her life and was steroid dependent for her entire childhood, she was also suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrom. Her health struggles were solved after she decided to be a Naturopath. Along the way she met her husband Mark, who has been practicing for almost 10 years. His understanding of the human body and the healing process changed her life forever.
Everyone is talking about gut health. What makes a gut healthy?
Louis Pasteur said, on his death bed, “I was wrong. The microbe is nothing. The terrain is everything.” This really rang true for me when I was on my own journey to health. I was a steroid dependant Asthmatic for 20 years, I had terrible psoriasis and eczema, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Food allergies of all kinds and massive Candida overgrowth throughout my body. Through my studies, and marrying my Naturopath Husband, I understood that when you change the environment of your gut, you change what lives there. It’s not necessarily about killing off bad bacteria, but optimizing the environment so that the good guys can flourish.
We seem to live in a state of fear and mistrust of our bodies. We immediately treat fevers with paracetamol, we fear the natural birth process, we pump ourselves full of vaccines, and we put the responsibility of our health solely in our doctors hands.
Trust your body. Love your body. It is a self healing mechanism and wise beyond measure. Give it good food, clean air and water, exercise, sunshine, & love…& watch it blossom.
What kinds of Foods increase the healthy bacteria in the gut?
Fermented foods like (cabbage fermented using salt not vinegar), fermented fizzy drinks, cultured raw dairy (like Kefir), and authentic Sourdough breads all nourish and colonise the gut with beneficial bacteria. Although I do think it’s necessary to clear out areas of toxic waste in the intestine and heal any inflammation of the mucosa before a considerable change will be noticed. My Husband, Mark developed a product called Motion Potion over years of treating digestive problems in his clinic. It’s high fibre, contains pre and probiotics and gentle anti-inflammatory herbs.
How can we integrate those foods into children’s diet?
Easy! Sometimes it is a matter of hiding it in their regular food, depending on how fussy the child is.
Blending Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), with avocado, celtic sea salt and a little lemon juice is one my little girls like. They will, however, sometimes eat a bowl of plain sauerkraut on its own. The fermented drinks that I make my family are loved by everyone. They have a slightly sweet beerie taste and are very refreshing. You can even add a little apple juice to it for extra fussy kids. This is probably the easiest way to get broad range probiotics into kids every day.
Sometimes you have to get creative with kids. My girls will drink an entire green juice because I call it dinosaur juice and that when they drink it all they’ll turn into dinosaurs and I’ll have to run away so they don’t eat me up!
Kefir and yoghurt are easy to add to kids smoothies or fruit salad bowls.
My kids favourite smoothie recipe is:
2 cups coconut milk
1 whole ripe avocado
½ cup frozen unsalted clear organic chicken bone broth
3 medjool dates
1 tablespoon organic hemp oil
1 tablespoon raw cacao
2 x heaped tablespoons organic hemp protein
¼ cup homemade yoghurt or kefir
A few drops of liquid stevia or maple syrup can be added for a bit of extra sweetness if needed.
What are the benefits of bonebroth?
When I’m cooking for my kids I always ask myself, How can I make this even more nutritious?
Sometimes the answer is just adding some blended carrot or zucchini, sprinkling hemp or chia seeds on top, or splashing some help oil in the mix, but my favourite is adding chicken bone broth!
It’s packed full of nutrients and is often referred to as nature’s multivitamin.
Minerals, like calcium and magnesium, collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, electrolytes, amino acids, and a whole lot of good fats. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, and is beneficial for gut health and immunity. Plus I feel that it is a way to respectfully use the whole animal and have no waste.
What’s the most beneficial way to make bonebroth and what if someone doesn’t have a slow cooker?
I use my slow cooker a lot to make broths, but it is not necessary to use a slow cooker. You can just use a large pot over a stove on low heat. Slow cookers just make it feel a bit easier.
Place two organic chicken frames in your slow cooker or large pot and cover with water. Simmer on low heat for 48 hours. Remove all bones and meat and run warm liquid through a metal strainer to remove all solid objects. Freeze into ice cube trays or muffin trays – whatever you have. Use as needed.
Chicken broth has such a neutral taste that it can be added to both sweet and savoury dishes. Spaghetti Bolognase, smoothies, bliss balls, muffins, cakes, breads, pancakes, get creative!
What are the foods that are high in fiber and what is their benefit?
Obviously all your fruits and veg are high in fibre. Psyllium husk powder is one of my favourites as it is so fine and easy to add to foods like bliss balls and muffins.
Fibre adds bulk to your stools and swells in the intestine, putting pressure on the bowel wall which signals the peristaltic movement of the bowel. This movement strengthens the bowel and encourages regularity.
And what are easy ways to integrate them in a child’s diet?
My Husbands bowel formula, Motion Potion, is usually how I focus on getting high amounts of fibre into the kids. It is rather neutral tasting as well and can be mixed into smoothies, juice, yoghurt, baby food, etc. Or you can even sprinkle a small amount over cereal, add it bliss balls, but you do need to keep it raw because of the probiotics it contains.
Mark and Lisabeth Gavins live in Canberra, ACT with their two little angels Annora and Kiara. They escape Canberra’s cold winters in their beautiful Bus, Serenity, and head north (usually) to warmer, bushier and secluded places.