Improve your gut with berries and fermented foods

Summer comes with too many perks to count, but there are two that I want to feature in this post. They have to do with gut health and by now we know very well that a healthy gut means a whole lot of good things, such as healthy body and mind, longevity and felling your best at any given time.

If your goal is to age gracefully and healthfully (and who doesn’t want that) then choosing anti-inflammatory helpers along the way is key. Plus, they are delicious, which makes it easy.

Berries are just too good to ignore

The first one: berries! Whether wild ones or cultivated, they are tasty and tantalizing with colours and textures that cannot but satisfy all manners of pickiness. Kamloops is presently awash in Saskatoon berries (featured photo) and there’s not one morning that I miss in treating myself to many, many handfuls during the morning hike with my pup. I pick a few to add to her meal when I get home, which she accepts without complaint.

We get to see an increasing amount of bear poop on the trails we hike on every morning, which is another way of saying that this year is a good one for berries.

If you’ve never had Saskatoon berries, or have been reluctant to try them, here are a few reasons why you may want to try to locate some or go pick a few if they grow where you are:

  • High content of polyphenols, which benefit your brain and gut bacteria and are powerful antioxidants (mopping up free radicals, which have deleterious effects in the body as they attack and damage various molecules, including DNA)
  • Rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese
  • Contain phytosterols, which can help lower cholesterol levels and thus improve your cardiovascular health
  • Contain vitamin E which has antioxidant properties, helps maintain cell membranes, supports immune function, and improves cardiovascular health
  • Contains fibre which helps balance blood glucose levels and improves the health of your microbiome, which means a whole lot of beneficial anti-inflammatory action for your entire body

Now please don’t think that these amazing properties are strictly associated with Saskatoon berries. Any kind of berry you have access to, including raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, red and black currants, and of course edible wild berries, they are all full of polyphenols, vitamins, minerals and fibre. That means they are anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and can help improve brain function blood glucose control and cardiovascular health. What’s not to love? 

And so are fermented foods

As for the second one: fermented veggies. The higher temperatures (we keep our home at 25 degrees Celsius to not overuse the air conditioning system) help fasten the fermentation process, which means a higher rate of success if you’re a beginner and a much shorter time in general until you get to enjoy your gut-enhancing mix of pro and prebiotics. Try to have a small amount of fermented foods every day to boost the health and diversity of your microbiome.

Since summer abounds in fresh produce available locally (picked at the perfect ripeness time), you can experiment with pickling your favorite ones or trying new things. Green or red cabbage, cauliflower, garden turnips, carrots, asparagus, garlic scapes…it’s a whole world out there.

Whether you are mostly plant-based or not, think of summer as the perfect time to reboot your microbiome by providing it with fibre from many sources (go slow and chew well if you are not used to eating lots of fibre), polyphenols from colourful fruit and veggies, and of course, the fermented food you may now be tempted to try.

Give it a try and let me see how it goes!

References

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