Happy Gut Kitchen

5 Happy Gut Superfoods for National Nutrition Month

March heralds spring, but it’s also National Nutrition Month. That means saying goodbye to cold winter weather with all its potential demands for unhealthy comfort food and welcoming warmth (hopefully!) as the days become longer.Eating the right way has a huge impact on your health. Here’s a great way to reset your focus: March is National Nutrition Month, which focuses on nutrition education. Its theme (“Go Further with Food”) highlights healthy food choices and eating intelligently.

That’s the foundation of my Happy Gut Diet: Eat foods that are easy to digest, low in fructose and sugar, and devoid of the substances that are hard on the gut. I emphasize foods that are organic, pesticide-free, non-GMO, full of healthy fats, locally grown, and sustainably farmed.

Choosing them needn’t feel like a herculean effort. The right foods can improve your gut health, help you lose weight, and feel better without demanding excessive time, money, or effort.

These are 5 of my favorites. They’re nutrient rock stars that are #happygutapproved to add major flavor and nutrients into a variety of foods.

5 Happy Gut Superfoods for National Nutrition Month

Avocado

Loaded with monounsaturated fat, nutrients, and a whopping amount of gut-supporting fiber, avocado makes the perfect food to lower inflammation and blast belly fat. This unique fruit (yes, fruit!) also makes a great substitution for creamy dressings or dairy products. Make sure avocado is slightly soft before you eat it. Once ripe, grab a spoon, a little sea salt, and enjoy!

Blueberries

Frozen or fresh, these dark berries are packed with nutrients and antioxidants but low in sugar to make for a happy gut by not feeding bad bugs and yeast. Studies show the fiber and polyphenol content in blueberries can support growth of healthy bifido bacteria in your gut.[1] Blueberries are great in a smoothie, on a salad, or even as a snack with almond butter.

Cacao

With chocolate, the right kind makes all the difference. Many commercial chocolate products come loaded with gut-wrecking sugar, soy, and artificial ingredients. Not to mention, processing with dutch alkali reduces the antioxidant content of cacao. Make the switch to rich, decadent pure, raw cacao packed with magnesium, fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Check out my raw cacao donut recipe for a delicious, guilt-free gut-loving dessert.

Dark Leafy Greens

You’re probably not meeting your recommended vegetable intake. Dark leafy greens are an incredibly versatile way to fix that. Among their benefits, they help balance and increase the diversity of your gut microbiome and fight off bad bacteria. [2] They’re loaded with nutrients and fiber to make you full and keep you full longer. Try dark leafy greens raw in your morning smoothie, sauteed in an omelette, or as a lettuce leaf wrap at lunch. Some smart, Happy Gut-approved leafy greens to add include:

Beet Greens

Bibb Lettuce

Collard Greens

Dandelion Greens

Mesclun Greens

Mustard Greens

Romaine Lettuce

Spinach

Swiss Chard

Radish Greens

Pili Nuts

Traditionally grown in volcanic soil in the Philippines, pili nuts are packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, protein, and nutrients. In fact, they have the highest concentration of magnesium of any nut. They make the perfect gut-friendly snack without the gluten or sugar. Toss these in a salad or other vegetable dishes for an energizing, protein-boosting meal! You can find pili nuts here.

What nutrient-packed superfood would YOU add to this list? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.

Sources

  1. Guglielmetti S, Fracassetti D, Taverniti V, Del Bo’ C, Vendrame S, Klimis-Zacas D, Arioli S, Riso P, Porrini M.Differential modulation of human intestinal bifidobacterium populations after consumption of a wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) drink.J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Aug 28;61(34):8134-40.
  2. Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. “Sweet discovery in leafy greens holds key to gut health.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160215114005.htm.
  3.  Rhonda, et al. “Pili Nuts.” Nuts.com, 23 Feb. 2017, nuts.com/nuts/pili.html.

Make Your Gut & Your Guests Happy with this St. Patty’s Party Dip

St. Patty’s Day Dip

WF GF DF V VG

Serves: 2

Green beer and sugary, gut-unfriendly party dips? That’s no way to welcome St. Patty’s day if you’re trying to heal your gut! Instead, bring a guilt-free, Happy Gut-approved party dish that everyone will rave about.

With fresh ingredients and a festive deep green color, this dip will be a hit at your St. Patty’s party or any occasion.

FYI: Cassava, the base for pita chips here, can promote gut health. This root vegetable, rich in fiber and prebiotics, helps keep your microbiome healthy while giving an amazing tasting chip to dip.  

Ingredients:

½ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted

1 cup spinach

¼ cup oil

Sea salt and pepper

Step 1

Blend all of the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Add water if additional liquid is needed to blend.

Step 2

Transfer to a bowl when finished.

Pita Chips

Ingredients:

2 cups of cassava flour

2 tsp sea salt

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup avocado oil

1/2 cup of water (add more if mixture is dry and crumbling)

Step 1

Mix all ingredients together, except for avocado oil.

Step 2

Use a rolling pin to smooth out into a thin crust.

Step 3

Heat skillet to medium high heat, then add avocado oil.

Step 4

Transfer dough into hot skillet, cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until it starts to bubble then flip.

Step 5

Remove from heat and cool. Then cut into triangles and serve on the side of the dip.

 

Do you have a favorite gut-healthy party dish you often bring to gatherings?

I’d love to know yours below or on my fan page.

The Dirty Secret(s) about Sourcing Healthy Seafood

Mention seafood and this will probably rank near the top: Omega-3 fatty acids. Nutrients and protein aside, these anti-inflammatory fatty acids are the rockstar nutrients in fish.

The American Heart Association recommends you eat fish at least twice a week.1 That’s a vague generalization: Not every fish makes the “good-for-you” cut, and eating the wrong seafood can actually create more inflammation and other problems.

Put another way: Eating the wrong fish may actually cause more harm than good.

Shocker: Many commercial fish contain pharmaceutical drugs and even beauty products! One recent study found Seattle fish carry up to 81 ingredients and drugs including Prozac, Advil, Benadryl, Lipitor, and even cocaine.2

In other words: Choosing the right fish is crucial for staying healthy. But how do you know?

Farm-Raised vs Wild-Caught?

Deciding whether to save money and buy farm-raised fish, instead of wild-caught fish,  can be confusing. Farm-raised fish may come with “friendly” words on the packaging, such as “sustainable” and “organic.”

However, beyond the aforementioned pharmaceuticals, farm-raised fish may also contain heavy metals and other disease-promoting, cancer-triggering persistent organic pollutants.

PCBs

PCBs end up in the water as a byproduct of many industrial practices. This carcinogen accumulates in the food chain, building up in fish that swim in crowded cages (i.e. farm-raised) and contaminated waters. The most contaminated PCB-rich fish is farm-raised salmon. Yep, there go all its health benefits!

When you eat PCB-heavy fish, they accumulate in your body. Among their problems, high PCB levels can suppress your immune system and create neurodegenerative disorders.5

Antibiotics

PCBs aren’t the only bad news for most farmed fish. To counter the effects of eating foods like grain and soy (decidedly non-fish foods), fish farmers give fish antibiotics to kill the side effects of this unnatural diet. But that creates other problems, including antibiotic resistance in fish and increased morbidity and mortality in people who eat farmed fish.6

“Frequent use of antibiotics in aquaculture and other industries poses a risk to human health by allowing disease microbes to become resistant to antibiotic treatments – making it more difficult to treat human disease,” says the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform

Antibiotics are also bad news for your gut microbiome, messing with your gut ecology and creating a very unhappy gut.

Mercury and Other Heavy Metals

Many fish contain a concentrate of metals, including the toxic organic heavy metal, mercury. Your body absorbs these metals, which subsequently have wide-ranging impacts on every organ system, including your nervous system and your gut, and potentially contributing to chronic diseases like thyroid and autoimmune disease.

In general, bigger fish are higher in mercury and other metals, and you should minimize or avoid eating swordfish, tuna and shark.  Visit the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Consumer Guide to Buying Seafood to learn more about the highest- and lowest-mercury fish.

Go Wild for a Happy Gut

Wild-caught fish like Alaskan salmon, Pacific sardines, and Atlantic mackerel provide higher anti-inflammatory omega 3s and so much more. For one, wild-caught fish eat on foods like plankton and small, oily fish like sardines and mackerel that provide omega-3 rich fatty acids as well as vitamins and minerals to support organ function, bone strength, and even your mood.

Because these fish feed on smaller food-chain fish, they reduce your body’s toxic burden. Wild-caught provides these and so many other benefits.

Shop Smart

Can’t find anything appealing that’s wild-caught and meet these criteria at the fish counter?

  • One option: BPA-free canned option.
  • Second option: Buy flash-frozen wild fish at your local supermarket. Flash-frozen is always cheaper than fresh.
  • Even better: Go fresh or canned with wild-caught Vital Choice Wild Seafood.

Further Resources

Buying fish can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out the aforementioned Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Consumer Guide to Buying Seafood

One of favorite apps, Seafood Watch, also makes a handy tool to have on your phone when grocery shopping, eating out, and more.Their Seafood Watch partners ensure their fish come from sustainable sources that protect wildlife. 

Wild-Caught at Better Prices

Purchasing wild-caught seafood can be expensive. I love Vital Choice Wild Seafood because they provide the highest-quality fish at reasonable prices, delivered directly to your home.

Bonus: They sell so many other fantastic gut-healthy foods, including blueberries and dark chocolate. Vital Choice is your go-to place for all things healthy and delicious. One of my favorites is the Redtresca™ — custom-cut sockeye salmon bellies.

As a special thank you to my readers –  because this is my absolute favorite place to buy fish and so much more! –  click here to receive 15% off on your first purchase with Vital Choice Wild Seafood. Simply use the code HAPPYGUT15.

This exclusive 15% off code is for one order and expires 3/31/18, so order today and never miss out on the healthiest fish and so much more! 

 

Citations:

1.“Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” American Heart Association, healthyforgood.heart.org/Eat-smart/Articles/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids.

2.“Seattle-Caught salmon found to contain cocaine, antidepressants and pain relievers.” Myscienceacademy.org, 16 July 2017, myscienceacademy.org.

3.Meador JP, Yeh A,Young G, Gallagher EP. Contaminants of emerging concern in a large temperate estuary. Environmental Pollution. 2016 June; 213:254-267.

4.Cnn.com. (2018). Is farm-raised salmon as healthy as wild? – CNN.com.

5.Steenland K, Bertazzi P, Baccarelli A, Kogevinas M. Dioxin Revisited: Developments Since the 1997 IARC Classification of Dioxin as a Human Carcinogen. Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Sep; 112(13): 1265–1268.

6.”Study identifies antibiotics in farm raised seafood | Aquaculture North America.” Aquaculture North America.