Spring is here, and it’s a great time to “spring clean” your body.
However, not all bodies can handle a detox. If you’re eating a standard American diet filled with sugar and processed food, a detox could be extremely tough. Also, if you suffer from constipation, detox is out of the question because there’s really no way to eliminate the toxins.
A great alternative to safely reduce inflammation within your body is to start including probiotic foods in your diet.
There are a lot of buzz words around boosting your microbiome, caring for your gut flora and balancing the good and bad bacteria in your gut. That’s because these trillions of bacteria – about 3 pounds worth – live in your digestive tract and play a big role in helping your body ditch toxins and reduce total body inflammation.
These bacteria take a hit when you’re exposed to chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified foods, air pollution, refined flour, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and processed convenience foods. The imbalanced gut flora caused by these exposures can cause symptoms of disease or even seasonal allergy symptoms this time of year.
How can you go beyond survival given all the pollutants in our environment and food? The answer is simple. Start by promoting a healthy balance of bacteria in your digestive tract.
Thanks to those yogurt commercials, we all understand the importance of the healthy little “bugs” for your digestive tract. Let’s start with boosting your probiotics from food rather than supplements.
Probiotic foods help boost the healthy bacteria in your gut, break down the food you eat, absorb nutrients and eliminate what’s not needed from your body. From the first bite of these probiotic foods, your body starts to benefit.
Here are three foods to start with that can bring back balance to your digestive system:
Yogurt. This one’s no surprise, but the quality is important. If you aren’t careful, it’s easy to get more sugar and high-fructose corn syrup than healthy bugs from yogurt. Look for brands that say “live cultures” and include lactobacillus or acidophilus. Greek yogurt naturally has less sugar and more protein than regular yogurt. Buying the “plain” flavor is a great way to control the added sugar, as you can add your own flavors and sweeteners such as honey to keep it healthy. Kefir. Yogurt’s superior cousin is kefir. Look for organic varieties. Kefir (KEE-fuhr) is a tangy, slightly fizzy, fermented milk (dairy or non-dairy) beverage. The probiotic effect of kefir outshines yogurt. It’s much more potent and beneficial to your intestines and gut flora. Adding kefir to your smoothies is a great way to add kefir to your diet. Cultured vegetables. These guys are the powerhouses of probiotic foods. In my experience, anyone suffering from inflammation should get these into their diet. Cultured vegetables include sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles. Look for these in the refrigerated section of your health food store. The options on grocery store shelves don’t have the healthy bacteria for a healthy gut. Start slow, take one or two forkfuls per day with a meal or on their own, and build up from there. Fran Sutherlin, RD, MS is a local registered dietitian, digestive health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition. She can be reached at 444-2122 or email@example.com.