May Evolutionary Wellness News and Notes
May 31st, 2023 | Late Spring Edition
Tending to the Garden of Your Gut
(photo by Dan Leak, heartofplace.com)

When I first read Candide in high school I was struck by the recommendation made at the end. After his many adventures around the world, what did Voltaire recommend? For Candide to go home to "tend to his own garden."

Perhaps it's my farm upbringing, but I always took this to be a literal recommendation as well as a figurative and metaphorical one.

More recently I've come to think of the body (and the soul) as a garden.

The metaphors, analogies and similes are many...but my question for you today, as new life, beauty and abundance continue to emerge all around us, and we consider the precious gift of this one well-met life, is:

"How are you tending to the garden of your body? Your soul? Your gut?” 

Do you need a little help with the weeding?

Are some beautiful flowers or emerging fruits or veggies being choked out or overgrown?

Are the plants you want to cultivate getting the nutrients they need from a well-tended soil?

Take a moment to drop inside of yourself if you will, and check in on your inner landscape.

Sometimes, like honeybee to a flower, we just know that it is time to move towards the thing in life that will bring us the nectar that can sustain us (not to mention our family and/or community) at the next level.

In my experience, the "thing" we often need to move towards, is actually ourselves....a deeper more authentic relationship with ourselves, that allows for a true flowering of our potential in the world.

If you are feeling it is time for some focused support in evolving to the next place of your health, wellness, and embodiment of this gift of life, I'd love to support you in that!

I can offer support with the nuts and bolts of dietary and nutritional upgrades, as well as help with clearing of obstacles/blocks in moving forward in life.

Additionally, what I’m MOST excited about professionally right now is the incredibly complex and dynamic world of the gut microbiome.

For the last 9 months I’ve been investing a lot of time and energy into learning how to interpret gut microbiome tests, thus being able to support my clients with getting great results in their healing of a variety of inflammatory and gut-related disorders.

My approach is a combo of specific therapeutic probiotics and gut support protocols combined with a strong focus on what to eat to support the “good guys” in there. Good guys = Billions of tiny micro-organisms that help us to absorb nutrients from what we eat, support a healthy and robust immune system, and keep our bodies functioning in tip top shape.

To tend to the garden of our gut we need to: 

#1. Weed - In case there are any pathogens of indications of gut dysbiosis.

#2. Seed - Add in the correct probiotics, so the ecological community of the gut can grow and bloom like a healthy garden or forest ecosystem.

#3. Feed - Bring in the right foods to keep feeding the good guys who are working for us.

Today’s article highlights 2 of my top favorite foods for “feeding” which are abundant and in season right now.

Please keep reading, and enjoy! I plan to share more in depth articles this summer on this and similar topics and will be specifically focusing on the foods that are most beneficial for the gut microbiota.

All Hail Asparagus!

Asparagus has a multitude of health benefits, but especially impressive are its benefits for the digestive system. It contains a unique nutrient called inulin. Inulin is a pre-biotic, a food that literally feeds certain beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. These bacteria in turn, help us to absorb nutrients, protect against allergies, and increase immunity. Few other foods contain inulin in the such high quantities as asparagus.

It is not an exaggeration to share that my husband and I have has asparagus at least 5 days a week for the last 3 weeks that it's been in season. I always try to take full advantage of the healing benefits of this particular veggie in springtime.
 
Asparagus also contains the beneficial phytonutrient, saponin. Saponins have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and intake of saponins has been associated with improved blood pressure, improved blood sugar regulation, and better control of blood fat levels. Additionally, asparagus is very high in the nutrients Vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and certain other B vitamins. And it also contains impressive amounts of glutathione, one of the best-studied and most beneficial antioxidants.

The Much Maligned Potato

Whether we should or should not eat potatoes is always an interesting topic of conversation! Many folks tend to stay away from potatoes if they are trying to release some extra pounds or are concerned about high blood sugar levels. While I do think it’s important to be careful to not overdo the root veggies that are higher in starch if you are diabetic or have other specific health reasons to keep your carbohydrate intake low, potatoes, and a few other foods like them, have the unique ability to produce something called resistant starch - when they are cooked and the cooled.

Resistant starch, which is also found in green bananas, legumes such as lentils and chickpeas, cashews, raw oats and cooked and cooled rice, feeds some of the “good guys” that produce a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) called butyrate. I plan to go into much more detail about SCFAs this summer in my monthly newsletters, but for now let’s just suffice it to say that SCFAs are the gift that good bacteria give back to us when we eat the foods they like to eat! 

So when we eat resistant starch, our gut bacteria produce the SCFA butyrate - and butyrate has a myriad of health benefits. In fact, it is considered by many to be the most important SCFA of them all! In my recovery from MCAS and histamine intolerance, butyrate has been a big focus, as it can specifically help with these conditions (along with many more!)

Butyrate works to heal at all 4 levels of a leaky gut.

Here are the 4 levels of leaky gut:
  1. Loosening of the tight junctions in the gut lining – allows food and other things to pass through to the bloodstream
  2. Loss of mucus layer in the gut
  3. Low good bacteria species
  4. Loss of ability to kill pathogens in the gut

According to research, supplementing with butyrate:
  1. Improves the tight junctions in the gut lining
  2. Supports healing mucus layers in the gut
  3. Increases good bacteria in the gut
  4. Supports cells to kill pathogens in the gut
  5. Keeps the oxygen levels in the colon low (very important)

To boil it down, butyrate supports the gut at the cellular level. That’s why it’s so helpful for the gut and digestive health. However, it also benefits the whole body, including supporting the immune system by lowering inflammation and helping reduce autoimmunity, improving skin issues and encouraging healthy bone density, helping with allergies and asthma, and supporting improvements in insulin sensitivity and satiety. Butyrate has also shown anti-cancer effects.

Two simple recipes featuring these gut supportive foods are below. Enjoy!

Ellen