We all know that probiotics are good for the gut. That means you need to top up your supply of beneficial bacteria to keep a balance of good and bad micro-organisms in your digestive tract. But that isn’t all you need in your gut to ensure that this vital region of the body – sometimes called your second brain and immune system command centre – stays in optimal health.
 
Here are 3 other important things you need to keep your digestive system running like a finely tuned machine:
 
1. Probiotics won’t survive without food! You need prebiotics, certain foods that contain the fibre that feeds beneficial bacteria (now also called microbiota) in the gut. Good prebiotic foods are garlic, onions, asparagus, whole grains, apple and pear skins, and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Cooked, cooled potatoes are one of the best sources because they have a resistant starch that acts like fibre — so eat lots of potato salad this summer! (See recipe) Coffee substitutes that contain chicory root and dandelion root, and fibre/prebiotic supplements that have inulin and Jerusalem artichokes are also good. (https://www.ffhdj.com/index.php/ffhd/article/view/214 )
 
2. Fungi are as important as bacteria. You might have thought that having fungus in your system would be bad for you. But scientists are now pointing to the role that fungi, not just bacteria, play in your health. Yes, the same group that includes yeasts, molds and mushrooms also inhabits your digestive system. Just like the importance of getting the right bacteria, getting the right type of fungi is vital.  Scientists found that fungi inside the guts of mice changed depending on what they ate. For example, while eating lots of bad fats the mice gained weight, had insulin resistance, and had significantly different fungi that created inflammation in the colon and asthma symptoms. Eat lots of fibrous plant foods to keep the fungi in balance. ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5874636/ )
 
3. Your gut needs protein. Scientists learned much more about our “microbiome,” meaning the total environment within our digestive tract, through the Human Microbiome Project, completed by 200 scientists at 80 institutions. Researchers found that amino acids (proteins) in the gut dramatically affect your health by interacting with bacteria. Bacteria in the intestines metabolize (break down and absorb) large amounts of amino acids so the whole body can use them. Amino acids are signaling molecules that regulate many processes in your gut including having children! If you don’t eat enough protein, the lack of amino acids in your gut can cause pregnancy issues, miscarriage, and inactive sperm. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25609213 )
 
RECIPE
 
This is a new take on a traditional summer favourite – potato salad – that has everything you need for a healthy digestive system. It also tastes fabulous! It includes yogurt for beneficial bacteria and protein, mushrooms for good fungi, and a trio of prebiotics: onions, apple cider vinegar and cooled potatoes. FYI! Can’t eat dairy? Nut-milk yogurt made from almonds or cashews is the newest food colonizing a dairy case near you.

Potato Salad with Mushrooms, Onion, Yogurt & Apple Cider

 
INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups diced red potatoes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt for boiling potatoes
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced in half rings
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill + 1 teaspoon curry powder (OR 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled rosemary, no curry powder)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup nut milk yogurt or other yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Boil potatoes in a pot for 5 minutes or until just fork tender.
  2. Remove from heat and rinse under cold water. Pat dry.
  3. In a pan over medium heat, fry mushrooms and onions for 5 minutes until onions are translucent. (Then stir in rosemary, if using instead of dill & curry.)
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove from heat; let sit 5 minutes to cool.
  6. Combine potatoes and mushroom mixture.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, yogurt, salt and pepper (and fresh dill and curry powder, if using).
  8. Add dressing to potato/mushroom/onion mixture in a salad bowl; toss until combined.

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