HAPPY GUT Blog

Fall Foods – Seasonal Eating For Your Microbiome

As autumn rolls around and the leaves start to change, it’s time to take advantage of those last trips to the farmer’s market and stock up on late summer vegetables that bring with them a lot of color and add diversity to your seasonal diet. If you’ve ever heard me speak in an interview, you’ve heard me talk about the importance of a varied plant-rich diet for supporting a diverse, health-promoting gut microbiome.

Have you considered the influence of seasonal eating patterns on your own health? What happens if you widen your palette of vegetable choices? In fact, seasonal eating contributes to gut microbial diversity by introducing new foods that are in season, while transitioning off foods that are past their season.

When Tania came to see me, she was exhausted. It was fall, and she was distressed about her ever-expanding waistline. “I don’t get it!” she sighed, “I do everything right: I eat vegetables, eat lots of fruit, protein, healthy fats, and I don’t add sugar to anything. Rarely will I even touch dessert.” Yet, she kept packing on the pounds.

Turns out she was still adding a lot of fructose-rich fruit to her diet, way past the summer season. While she didn’t realize how much of a sugar-load that was, it was also breeding yeast overgrowth in her gut. She was bloated, moody and unhappy.

As food has become ubiquitously available world-wide year-round way past its seasons, the lines are blurred as to when it is appropriate to eat foods that are not locally sources and in-season. It has allowed a monotony to a diet, that ages ago would have been broken by the lack of transportation or refrigeration to keep foods fresh that were not in-season or local. In essence, it permits you to fall into patterns of eating that reduce the range and diversity of the foods you choose.  

If you’ve been following me, you know that you are in primary control of your health and the health of your microbiome through the foods you eat. In short, when you think of it this way, who are you really eating for?  Yourself?  Or your microbiome?  

Did you know that a balanced microbiome is protective against chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel disease (IBD), obesity, type 2 diabetes and even cancer? Yes, that’s right! Specific foods can greatly affect an individual’s overall health in terms of immune and metabolic function.1 That’s a mouth full! In other words, you feed your microbiome, and in turn it regulates all sorts of body functions, from your immune system to how you metabolize sugar.

By introducing seasonality to the way you eat, you help promote and maintain diversity within your gut flora. Ultimately, that is the goal! And that is where we started with Tania, by first cutting out all the summer fruit in her diet.   

Seasonal Foods

As foods are the freshest and lowest in carbon footprint when they come from your local farm-stand to your doorstep, eating seasonally results in more nutritious foods, less toxic load on our environment and better flavor. It should really be a no-brainer to eat seasonally as best you can!

Fall can be a beautiful time of year and a great time to incorporate diversity-promoting root vegetables, pumpkins, and squashes into your diet. In fact, this is a great time to enjoy various foods that will directly improve the health of your gut.

Allow me to explain the wonderful ways you can eat seasonally to feed your microbiome.

The Facts

Studies show that diet plays a major role in altering the gut microbiome. To some, this may not be a surprise. However, what is alarming is that within as little as 24 hours your microbiome can shift greatly, based only on what you eat. However, as scary as it may seem that a weekend of indulgence in pizza, wings, beer and dessert could drastically shift your gut flora into some frightening “halloween” creatures, there is comfort in knowing this, because in the reverse we can manipulate your diet to induce favorable changes in your microbiome.1    

In a systematic review, researchers showed that certain foods determine the predominant bacterial species within the gut. When shifts are favorable, it allows for greater growth of beneficial flora. However, when individuals eat a highly processed diet in added sugar and fat, a negative shift in gut bacteria has been found. This leads to unfavorable changes in the microbiome, which can manifest as leaky gut, autoimmunity and other disease states.1  

Eating For Your Gut

Fortunately, as mentioned above, positive changes can be made by eating the right, seasonal foods. Many seasonal, fall foods are rich in non-digestible carbohydrates or fibers called resistant starches, which act as prebiotic nutrients for the gut microbiome. Prebiotic foods are not digested in the small intestine; instead, passing through intact to the large intestine (or colon) where they undergo digestion and fermentation by the microflora.

Be sure to remember these foods are rich in fiber — the reason they are so important for gut health! Common resistant starch foods include sunchokes, garlic, leeks and onions.1,2,3

Resistant starches are absorbed in the large intestines at a much different rate than traditional carbs. Due to this, they show positive changes in metabolism. Resistant starches are associated with a decrease in blood sugar levels and insulin responses after meals due to the difference in type of carbohydrates, as compared to other commonly eaten carb-rich foods (like bread, white rice, and pasta). This is beneficial in reducing risk of chronic diseases, along with improving the metabolism of an individual.2

Resistant starches are fermented in the gut, with the result being short chain fatty acids (SCFA) like butyrate, propionate, and acetate. SCFAs (specifically butyrate) have anti-inflammatory effects on the gut and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes, IBD and cardiovascular disease.3

Polyphenols

Among the many reasons fall eating is so satisfying to our senses is because of the warming spices used. Spices like star anise and cinnamon along with many other fall picks contain polyphenols. These phytochemicals are popular in the natural health world for their abundance in antioxidants. Studies also show that polyphenols promote favorable changes in beneficial probiotic bacteria within the microbiome, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.1

Change Your Diet Today!

We know that eating foods that feed favorable bacterial strains is imperative for total wellness. Start making changes today as we enter autumn, and enjoy the beautiful and delicious foods we have this season.

Seasonal Food List4

Check out a list of seasonal foods below. These foods are rich in phytonutrients and fiber, along with a pick of delicious resistant-starch options.

Acorn Squash

Artichokes

Arugula

Beets

Broccoli

Brussel Sprouts

Butternut Squash

Celeriac

Delicata Squash

Escarole

Garlic

Leeks

Onions

Pumpkins

Radishes

Rutabega

Spaghetti Squash

Sweet Potatoes

Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes

Turnips

How to Eat These Foods

To get the most bang for your bite, you want to prepare or eat these foods differently. For instance, try your best to consume onions, leeks and garlic as raw (or close to raw) as tolerated. However, avoid raw onions if you have a sensitivity to sulfur-rich foods. Eaten raw, they may provoke a headache or migraine. A great recipe to follow is my Scallion Vinaigrette, which uses raw, crushed scallions to give the salad dressing a distinct flavor, while promoting the growth of your probiotic flora.

In general, other resistant starch foods like sunchokes, squashes and sweet potatoes are digested best when cooked, then cooled before eating.

We had Tania incorporate more of these foods into her diet, while cutting out fruit and increasing the ratio of healthy fats. With this approach, we were able to stop the vicious cycle of insulin resistance and abdominal fat gain. We successfully reversed it by supporting her body’s ability to burn fat for energy. Incorporating seasonal eating into Tania’s diet plan helped improve her nutrient quality and resulted in the weight loss she was ultimately looking for.   

Creating A Happy Gut This Season

It is so important that you address your gut health from all aspects, including seasonal eating to promote a happy gut. If you’re looking to enhance your gut health, be sure to check out my Quick Start to a Happy Gut, your complimentary guide to total wellness through a healthy gut!

Happy Gut Recipes

Be sure try out the recipes at the Happy Gut Kitchen and stay tuned for upcoming new recipes we’ll be featuring this fall!

Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower Soup

Warm up this fall season with this homemade soup, filled with gut healing-properties and anti-inflammatory spices. You can use a pre-made bone broth or one of the Happy Gut Kitchen Bone Broth recipes.

                                    This delicious soup is healing to the body and soul.

Roasted Tandouri Cauliflower Soup

WF  DF  GF  SF  VEG  VG

Serves: 2

Ingredients

½ head cauliflower, cut into florets

¼ cup full fat coconut milk

1 ½ cups Happy Gut Bone Broth

2 tbs tandoori masala seasoning

½ small yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

¼ cup avocado oil

Sea salt and pepper

1/2 avocado, sliced lengthwise (for garnish)

Step 1

Preheat oven to 375 °F. In a large mixing bowl, toss florets with 2 tbs avocado oil, sea salt and pepper. Then lay out in a glass baking dish, roast for 30 minutes.

Step 2

In a skillet, over medium heat, add 1 tbs of avocado oil. Add onions and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent for 4-5 minutes. When done, turn off heat and set aside.

Step 3

Once cauliflower is finished, transfer to blender. Add bone broth, coconut milk, tandoori seasoning, onions and garlic. Blend until smooth. If more liquid is needed, add more bone broth.

Step 4

Transfer soup to a pot and warm over stove top. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Step 5

Serve in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with avocado slices. Enjoy!

Sipping Your Way to a Happy Gut with Bone Broth

Could you imagine trading in your morning cup of brew for a steamy mug of soothing broth?

Many of you may be familiar with the hot new product known as bone broth. It has been exploding every since my friend and colleague, Dr. Kellyann Petrucci published her NY Times bestseller, The Bone Broth Diet. It may sound like something new, but bone broth has been around for hundreds of years. Remember that chicken soup your mom made when you were feeling sick? In societies where nothing goes to waste, using the bones to make a hearty broth was part of the frugality that went into sustainable eating.

Many restaurants and supermarkets now offer this “beverage.” And the market has spread into dried bone broth powders that can be added to both hot and cold liquids, like one of our smoothie recipes. So why the hype? Bone broth, technically stock, has been used in stews for centuries or as Grandma’s homemade remedy when you were sick. But only recently has bone broth made it to mainstream as a medicinal and healing beverage.

Approximately 70 million people in our country are affected by digestive diseases.1 Autoimmune conditions have been on a significant rise, with gastrointestinal disorders (like Celiac disease) as the third leading autoimmune condition.2   We are in a massive health crisis, centered around our gut health. In effect, much of our health is controlled by the health of our gut, and the one new food on the block that has major anti-inflammatory benefits to help heal our gut lining is bone broth.

As mentioned in my previous blogs, we know that a leaky gut contributes to gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmune conditions, and a host of other body-wide problems.

In comes bone broth to the rescue. The main components in bone broth make it an incredible addition to anyone’s gut-healing regimen. Its amino acid profile addresses leaky gut and other gut-related issues.

Let’s take a deeper look at a few of the major components of bone broth. Knowing its benefits, you’ll want to start sipping sooner rather than later!

Major Components of Bone Broth

Collagen: Collagen provides structure within our body and is an important component of our ligaments, bones, tendons and skin. Studies show that collagen supplementation can reduce aging of the skin.3 Collagen also plays a major role in developing and regulating the tissue within the body.4  Meaning that collagen can help to repair the tissue within the GI tract as well. Studies also suggest that those with arthritis and other chronic diseases can turn to collagen for long-term use to improve the state of their condition.5   Needless to say, collagen alone is enough to turn to bone broth for chronic health conditions.

Glutamine: Many studies show the healing effects of glutamine on intestinal permeability. By improving the permeability and tightening the gaps in the tight junctions of a leaky gut, we can see improvement in chronic irritable bowel diseases and other inflammatory disease states.6

Glycosaminoglycan (GAG): GAGs are complex carbohydrates, essential for many processes in the body. GAGs are effective in addressing chronic inflammation, lubricating joints and protecting cartilage surfaces. Studies have even shown that the severity of irritable bowel disease may decrease with the use of GAGs as part of the treatment plan.7,8

It is evident that the components of bone broth have wide-ranging benefits, not just for inflammation. Make this a staple in your everyday life for a happy gut and healthier, more vibrant you. Check out these amazing ways to easily incorporate bone broth into your day.

“An Order of Bone Broth, Please!”

Use promo code HAPPYGUT10 for 10% Off ($35 Min Order) from the Flavor Chef — one of our favorites!

Check out this delicious bone broth recipe from the Happy Gut Kitchen!

Be sure to incorporate this staple in many different dishes, or simply create the following brews and sip your way to a happy gut!

Morning Spice Brew

WF  DF  GF  SF

Serves: 2

Enhance your gut healing cup with cardamom, also known to support digestive health.

Ingredients:

2 cups bone broth reheated

1 ½ tsp cardamom

2 tsp cinnamon

Sea salt

Steps:

  1. In a skillet, heat all ingredients and mix, serve in mugs and enjoy.

 

Happy Gut Thai Coconut Soup

WF  DF  GF  SF

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

2 cups bone broth

1 ½ cup sweet potatoes, cubed

½ small onion, slices

2 tbs grapeseed oil

½ cup full fat coconut milk

Sea salt and pepper

Steps:

  1. Heat skillet to medium heat, add grapeseed oil. Then add onion slices and sweet potato cubes. Lower heat and continue to stir until soft for 8-10 minutes.
  2. In a blender, add bone broth with sauteed mix, then pour in coconut milkl. Mix until smooth.
  3. Reheat in a saucepan, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in soup bowls and enjoy.

 

Zucchini Noodle Bowl

WF  DF  GF  SF

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

4 cups bone broth

1 zucchini, spiralized

2 carrots, shredded

2 cups kale, roughly chopped

½ cup fresh mint, chopped

2, 6 oz, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free-range chicken breasts, cubed

2 tbs grapeseed oil

Sea salt and pepper

Steps:

  1. Over medium heat, add grapeseed oil to a pot. Add cubes of chicken, stir and season with salt and pepper. Cook until chicken is no longer pink for about 7-8 minutes.
  2. Once cooked, lower heat and add bone broth. Then add carrots, kale and spiralized zucchini noodles. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly soft. Serve in bowls and add fresh mint. Enjoy with chopsticks if preferred.

 

Citations:
1. “Digestive Diseases Statistics for the United States.” National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Web. 27 May 2017.
2 .Lerner A,  Jeremias P, Matthias T. The World Incidence and Prevalence of Autoimmune Diseases is Increasing. International Journal of Celiac Disease. 2015;3(4):151-55.
3. Proksch E, Schunck M, Zague V, Segger D, Degwert J, Oesser S. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(3):113-9.
4. Birk, DE. Type V collagen: heterotypic type I/V collagen interactions in the regulation of fibril assembly.Micron. 2001 April;32(3):223-37.
5. Moskowitz RW. Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease.Semin Arthritis Rheum.2000 Oct;30(2):87-99.
6.Rapin JR, Wiernsperger N.Possible links between intestinal permeability and food processing: A potential therapeutic niche for glutamine.Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2010 Jun;65(6):635-43.
7.Salvatore S, Heuschkel R, Tomlin S, Davies SE, Edwards S, Walker-Smith JA, French I, Murch SH.A pilot study of N-acetyl glucosamine, a nutritional substrate for glycosaminoglycan synthesis, in paediatric chronic inflammatory bowel disease.Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Dec;14(12):1567-79.
8. Gandhi NS, Mancera RL.The structure of glycosaminoglycans and their interactions with proteins.Chem Biol Drug Des. 2008 Dec;72(6):455-82.