For centuries, fermented and cultured foods have been a staple of our daily diets. In the era of fast food and take out, our intake of these types of foods has diminished, and we are experiencing the health benefits less and less as a result. In order for our bodies to properly absorb essential vitamins and minerals, we need to eat foods to improve our gut health. The Seed and Feed concept is a simple way to approach good gut health – we seed our gut with the right bacteria from fermented and cultured foods, and then we feed that bacteria.
Fermented and cultured foods contain probiotics that support a healthy gut. Probiotic foods include sauerkraut, yogurt, aged cheese, miso, soy sauce, kefir and kombucha. Prebiotics are the food or fuel for the bacteria that consist of indigestible fiber. These foods include asparagus, bananas, chicory, dandelion root, artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, onions, garlic, jicama and wheat.
It is important to note that our gut is connected to our brain through neurotransmitters that communicate back and forth. Having a healthy gut can affect how well we deal with stress, but the opposite is also true; stress can affect our gut health. The foods we eat do contribute to our gut health, but stress can also play a factor and it is crucial to consider both.
Casey Atwood, Director of Culinary Services, recommends taking the following steps to eat foods to improve gut health:
- Seed your gut by eating fermented, cultured foods.
- Feed your gut by eating prebiotic fibers.
- Learn to manage stress by doing yoga, meditation, prayer or exercise – whatever works for you!