Chef Ellen


Supporting Gut Health by Feeding Your Microbes

Our gut is home to about 40 trillion microbes. These microbes are unique strains of bacteria that crave various plant foods to thrive. When appropriately nourished, they are adaptable and enriched enough to champion our best healthful outcomes. Beneficial bacteria establish superior immune responses, digestive processes, nutrient absorption, and vitamin production within the intestinal tract. 

With all the emerging information on gut health, it’s empowering to understand that TLC of your gut environment is one of your best investments. Through our skin and digestive tract, we are exposed to bacteria daily. These florae are groups of microbes living in or on your body. Some make us ill but many aid in most processes we need to survive. Instead of focusing on destroying bad microbes, our objective should be to reinforce and nurture favorable resident organisms, a task that you can actively participate in.

By maintaining a healthy gut, you can expect a host of positive health outcomes:
Improved digestion, reduced inflammation, enhanced immune responses, and a significantly lower risk of chronic and autoimmune disease. These are the rewards of your commitment to gut health.
Let’s break down key mechanisms of optimal gut health and explain why increasing your intake of specific whole food plant sources like apples, broccoli, quinoa, oats, almonds, lentils, and chia seeds can flourish your gut wellness.
By increasing daily fiber intake from whole food plant-based sources, critical processes and beneficial outcomes are improved from the following:
  • Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA): Healthy gut bacteria ferment dietary fiber to produce byproducts called SCFA. SCFAs maintain intact cellular structure and barrier protection to both the gut barrier and colon lining. This structural reinforcement regulates immune functions and lends to less inflammation (skin, joints, heart, brain, kidney, lungs, and the development of life-threatening illnesses)

  • Bowel Consistency: Regular bowel movements and eliminating everyday toxins are essential for a flourishing digestive tract. An adequate intake of plant diversity and fibers, SCFA, and nutrient absorption aid in daily bowel movements and the prevention of constipation. 

  • Gastrointestinal Disorders decrease with a healthy gut barrier and reduced inflammation. Properly ingesting an array of nutrients and phytochemicals, which are natural compounds found in plants has been shown to have health benefits. A variety of plant foods protects against unfavorable disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),  inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), dysbiosis, leaky gut, and colorectal cancers, which are all so prevalent in our society.

With an increased intake of soluble and insoluble fibers and an emphasis on whole-food plant diversity, we ensure the growth of beneficial bacteria. The fiber we ingest from plant-based foods is prebiotics, which act as a fertilizer our favorable gut bugs happily eat up, aiding in cellular growth, healing, and energy. 
 Aim for 30 plants a week and you’ll be surprised how easily this can be attained with consistency and a positive mindset. How do you start? One day at a time, with no pressure for perfection. Sometimes, inspiration is half the battle. I love being encouraged by anyone who aspires to create with plant diversity. There is so much to look at especially online, and social media or you can one-stop shop here and see what catches your eye. To assist in facilitating this process, remember that whole-food plant sources include herbs (fresh and dried, and spices. A fruit compote made from seasonal fruit and then used to top yogurt or chia pudding could easily add up to between 5-10 plant sources. A snack like these Superfood Bites are seven sources of plants. See one of my newest salad dressings below which uses herbs, sprouts, and leftover greens to inspire various plant consumption, control over quality ingredients, and money saved over costly store-bought versions.
Is plant-diversity the ultimate gut-fix? No, unfortunately, there are no quick fixes, but rest assured, attention to increasing dietary fiber from a variety of plant sources is one step in the most advantageous direction. Supporting the skill set of our microbes reinforces the integrity of vital gut functions. Optimal gut functions are essential for orchestrating many of our daily organ and hormonal operations.These key mechanisms need your attention and a mindset that is dedicated to significant progress and overall wellness.