Gut health

I feel like I am constantly consuming new information, and sometimes, it can be a bit exhausting. Sometimes, though, educational information can also be fun, as well, and good to help others understand things they may not have previously known before. One of the many podcasts that I’ve been listening to in the last year has been the Deliciously Ella podcast. Ella Mills is a British plant-based food writer and entrepreneur who has a London deli as well as a plant-based eating cookbook. Seven-plus years ago, the idea of “vegan” and “plant-based” seemed annoying to me, as so many delicious things exist in cultures across the word, so why would we need substitutes for already delicious and amazing things? But as I’ve read more and more about greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, the environmental impact of animal products, as well as their negative implications on our health, I realized that maybe reducing the amount of animal-based products I eat isn’t such a bad idea after all. It was Michael Pollan who once said: “Eat food — not too much; mostly plants.” I will always be a happy omnivore who won’t give up her Peking duck or pho, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t want to incorporate more plant-based foods into my diet and eat a little less meat.

Her latest episode on “How to Have a Healthy Gut” was especially interesting to me, as it discussed that so much of what people perceive as food allergies or celiac/gluten-intolerant diseases is actually a result of their bodies being overly stressed and thus rejecting the foods they could normally eat. So perhaps if one day, you are anxious from a work presentation you have to deliver and eat a banana, then immediately throw up, the reason you vomited is not that the banana actually was the cause, but rather that the stress in your gut affected how you ultimately digested that banana. The gut is truly the center of everything in our bodies whether we realize it or not, and that’s why it’s even more important in today’s high-speed, high-stress environments to focus on self-care, whether that means doing some form of meditation, yoga, exercise, or even just practicing breathing deeply to find a sense of calm and stillness in our lives. It really cannot be overstated, especially when you *think* you are getting sick from foods that are not actually making you sick at all. I wish that people would slow down a bit and instead of blaming the foods for these types of ailments to instead think about the lives they are leading and how they can either calm or slow down.

The other interesting thing the “gut doctor” who was interviewed in the podcast noted is that to have a well-rounded gut, each of us should be targeting to eat a variety of different foods (obvious, but oftentimes a challenge), but as a general goal, seek to eat about 30 different plant-based foods each week. So while it can be an easy routine or habit to always fall on whole wheat, spinach, tomatoes, or the same type of lentils, to instead mix it up: add wild rice or quinoa, mix some Swiss chard, kale, or red cabbage into your spinach. Roast some onions and chop some avocado to eat with your tomatoes. Vary up the usual green lentils with some red lentils or chickpeas. This would also include the little things you may even forget about, such as the sautéed garlic in your stir-fry, chia seeds, flaxseeds, a handful of cashews or walnuts, a few squeezes of lime, etc.

I was intrigued by the target “30” number and counted how many I had eaten in the last three days. I was at 33! How crazy!

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