Gut Health In Your 20s: Why I Now Care And You Should Too
At the ripe old age of 24 I think I have a pretty good understanding of my body. I know what it likes, what it hates, what makes it feel warm and bright and what makes it feel slow and a little grey. Case in point: Gluten.
Whatever stereotype you want to box me into because I’m a millennial who doesn’t eat gluten is totally fine because the truth is that my body hates it. And it’s not because it makes me fat or because it gives me acne, because it doesn’t do either of those things, it’s because gluten makes me sad. I know, I know. I sound weird and dramatic but it’s true. Every single time I consume bread, pasta, crackers, you name it, I just feel really “down” and want to hop into bed. I once ate two pieces of wedding cake at my cousins wedding and spent the next day literally crying over who’s car we were taking to brunch and thought my family were all psychopaths (and I wasn’t even hungover).
So I’ve been gluten free for around seven years with the exception of the odd birthday cake, hungover breakfast or Christmas day pig out.
But in recent months I started reading more about the relationship between our gut and our mood and suddenly things made so much sense. I found out that the stomach is referred to by doctors and scientists as the human body’s “second brain”, it is responsible for 85% of our immune system and we make 90% of our serotonin IN OUR GUT. Can you believe that? 90% of our happy hormone is made in our stomach. We literally are what we eat.
So I wondered, if we all knew that our serotonin was produced in our stomachs and we started living in a way that specifically nurtured that part of our body, how much happier could we be? According to top Australian health and wellness guru Melissa Ambrosini, the three best ways to keep your gut happy and healthy is bone broth, cultured vegetables and meditation.
Bone broth is essentially homemade stock, and it helps restore a healthy mucosal lining in the gut. It’s jam-packed with gelatine and collagen and is also high in proline (a super-important amino acid). You can drink it before your meals to warm your digestive system, use it as stock or even sauté your veggies in it. Cultured or fermented vegetables are the ultimate superfood, and contain much higher levels of good bacteria than any probiotic supplements you buy, plus they are so much cheaper. Here’s a link for making your own, otherwise there is an amazing New Zealand brand called Be Nourished who make them. Meditation decreases stress and stress causes leaky gut, so it makes sense to try and live as angst-free as possible. Do yourself a favour and start meditating.
Melissa also believes the healthy food movement is getting a bit too carried away with this idea of ‘healthy’ desserts, “I’m talking about the over-consumption of dates, unactivated nuts, way too much raw cacao, honey, coconut sugar, rice malt syrup, maple syrup and other sugars. These desserts can tear our guts apart and should be eaten in moderation. We simply don’t have the digestive power to cope with the anti-nutrients in things like unactivated almond meal.” With that in mind Melissa was determined to create a chocolate brownie recipe that was tasty as hell, actually good for you, and healing for your gut all at the same time.
For the past three months I’ve been drinking bone broth, I found an incredible preservative-free powder from Nutra Organics that seems to make my skin glow and tastes like Cup-A-Soup, and I practice meditation when I can remember. But I’ve decided that cultured vegetables just aren’t for me. My stomach refutes them.
And that’s the thing; while I’m not a health blogger, a wellness coach or a doctor, if I had to give you one piece of advice it would be to check in with your body and see how it’s going. How does it feel? And what makes it feel that way? You are the world’s greatest expert on your body. No one knows more about it than you and that’s just a fact.