Did you know scientists estimate that there are as many bacterial cells in the human body as there are human cells? While that doesn’t mean we are half germ, it does give us an idea as to how important a role bacteria might play in our health and wellbeing.
Bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms appear throughout the body, making up the microbiome. It is the bacteria that occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, called gut bacteria or gut flora, that we have become most concerned with in recent years.
Healthy individuals have between 300 to 500 different kinds of bacteria living in their gut. Some bacteria fight inflammation and others promote inflammation. While they are in balance all is good as they keep one another in check. When the balance is disturbed, the inflammatory bacteria could take over and create metabolites that pass through the lining of the gut into the bloodstream and cause inflammation in other parts of the body.
Some types of bacteria in the gut can lead to other health conditions. Studies have shown a link between certain types of bacteria and immune function, asthma and allergies, some chronic diseases and even cancer.
The gut and the brain are connected by nerves, the biggest of which is called the Vagus Nerve. It delivers signals both to and from the brain and the gut. This communication system is called the gut-brain axis and it is why anxiety can cause digestive problems. It could also explain why we can physically feel a knot or butterflies in our stomach. Since the gut reports to the brain about its wellbeing it is not surprising then that gut health has been linked to anxiety, depression and some neurological conditions.
Every microbiome is unique and it is the diversity of bacteria and an optimal balance that are key to a healthy body and mind.
You can incorporate a few good habits to stay on top of your gut health. Here is a list of our top healthy habits for good gut health.
- Drink bone broth
One of the many benefits of bone broth is its gut-healing properties. Gelatine in bone broth helps to repair the intestinal lining and reduces inflammation.
- Eat prebiotics
Prebiotics are foods containing insoluble fibre that feeds gut bacteria. Good sources of prebiotics are onions, legumes and garlic.
- Get quality sleep
Sleep deprivation is poison to the brain and what is good for the brain is good for the body.
- Stress less
The microbiome is negatively affected by stress. Try to limit stress and anxiety by doing yoga, meditation or journaling and getting regular exercise.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine are both digestive stimulants and are known to disrupt the digestive process. Overdoing either can cause major bacterial imbalance in the gut.
In good health – body and mind – balance is always a factor. Restoring balance in any aspect of your life can be challenging. It also takes time. Sustaining good gut health is an ongoing practice. Don’t expect to see results overnight, as it can take up to 6 months to fully restore the balance between good and bad bacteria in your gut. Focus on incorporating new health practices over time and keep them up. Your gut health will improve and by then your new habits will be established.
What you’ll need:
- The carcass of a roasted chicken
- Apple cider vinegar
Place the bones in a big stock pot and cover generously with water (about 3 liters). Add a little salt, you can always add more later. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This helps to draw the gelatine from the bones. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for at least 10 to 12 hours. It should be reduced to about 6 to 8 cups. Strain the broth and use it in cooking or enjoy it as is. Warm, comforting and super nourishing.
You can also make bone broth from beef bones. It is advisable to roast the bones first as this really enriches the flavor. We love that you can repurpose a roast chicken after enjoying a lovely meal. Experiment with this basic recipe and add herbs and spices to your liking. Enjoy!