Spring into Health: Table Talk 1:Digestion Friendly Gut (Mindfulness & Healthy Gut Bacteria)

saurkrautHappy days for the Spring that has yet to have sprung.  All this to say that I am not sure from where on this great green earth you are reading this but here, in Great Barrington MA we have been enjoying some warmth and sun that has been a nice prelude to spring.

We enjoyed a wonderful gathering at the Ramsdell Library in Housatonic, MA on March 5th.  We had the first of 4 part series, Table Talk 1: Digestion Friendly Gut.  Here is a recap with some highlights from the discussion:


Overall digestive healthy gut begins with our understanding that it is not just the foods that we eat that give our guts the support it needs to function optimally, but the way we approach our lifestyle.  Finding opportunities to be mindful in various aspects of your daily life creates the space for digestion to begin.  We digest our thoughts.  Practicing mindful based eating, yoga, stretches and gentle movements throughout your day can go a long way to supporting your gut.  Beginning here and then looking at one’s diet is a good way to start.

Bacteria & Healthy Gut 

Sometimes we think of bacteria and consider it as part of the “germ” family, those icky things that we want to dispose of when we are feeling unwell or keep at bay from our body.  It’s often that we see the word bacteria on the labels for cleaning products that claim to ward off these pesky things we “don’t want” hanging around our kitchen counters and bathroom.  But bacteria gets a bad rap more often than a good one and its this stigma that I hope to change.

When it comes to bacteria in our bodies, these micro-organisms can do us a lot of good.  Bacteria is normally present in the intestine and it helps us digest our food and produce vitamins we need.  There is the battle of bacteria that is always going on in our bodies with the good bacteria trying to destroy other disease-causing microorganisms, that is part of their job.

Probiotics is a term used to describe strands of microorganism that live naturally in our bodies the bacteria we want to keep around- the good guys & gals (not to discriminate :).  The micro-organisms listed on products or on foods labeled probiotic usually have long, lengthy scientific names we can’t pronounce.

The two most common and most studies of these larger kinds of microorganisms are Lactobacillus and Bifodobacterium.  Within these are many different types of bacteria with other long, difficult to pronounce names.   Just to clarify prebiotic – is another term you might see, these are dietary substances like fiber from fruits and vegetables that favor the growth of beneficial bacteria over harmful ones they are like the food for the probiotic.

Scientific studies often focus on these two microorganisms to prevent or treat health problems.  There are a lot of questions about which strands are helpful, how much to take, who is most likely to benefit from them as not all probiotics are the same.  The other factor is when you go to the store to buy  bottle of probiotics how do you know you are getting the specific kind you need and that it contains what it says on the label.  The fact is you don’t, which is why seeking a professional nutritionist and informing your physician of any additions to your vitamin routine is so important.

So, if you want to boost your gut with healthy bacteria and get them without reading a label what can you do?

Answer is: plant-based foods.

Plenty of plant-based foods offer these in a natural source form.  Here are a list of some:

Fermented products that:

  • crowd out unhealthy bacteria (sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kimchi)

Vegetables that:

  • fight inflammation (Cruciferous veggies, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts )
  • stabilize gut bacteria (bananas)
  • boost vitamin absorption (beans)
  • rich in fiber (Jerusalem artichokes, polenta)
  • enhance immune system (blueberries)

These are just a few but you get the basic idea.  So see what you might want to add to your diet and get your good bacteria flowing.

I will hope find you in attendance for Table Talk 2: Healthy Choice Swaps for Everyday Cooking.  Date: March 19th @ Ramsdell Library.  Time: 1-2pm.   Bring your favorite recipes and I will share some healthy options for ingredient choices.  We will talk about some great healthy staples to have in your kitchen for oils, grains and additional vegan sources for proteins you might give a go.

In health,


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