Our health is the most important thing we have- without it we cannot accomplish any of the goals we set for ourselves or reach the lifetime milestones we so desire.
Many of us want to find “The One”, our special someone, but what about finding what’s right for our gut, and by extension, our health? After all, 80% of our immunity lies in our gut. . It’s our first line of defense against the microbes we potentially ingest. And it’s what allows us to boost our immunity. When you fear getting a cold, you drink some orange juice or down some Emergen-C. All digested and allowed into your body by your gut. Yet we’re perfectly happy to ingest foods that are processed hybrids of many ingredients, to the detriment of our health.
According to Dr. Nguyen, Kamar and Depaolo of the Keck School of Medicine, our intestines are extremely complex and “must maintain tolerance to innocuous food antigens and commensal microbiota while being also able to mount inflammatory responses against invading pathogenic microorganisms.” So our gut has to walk a tightrope, and perform a delicate balancing act between tolerating the antigens that aren’t harmful to us and being able to react defensively towards those pathogens that do seek to cause us harm. Any perturbation of this balancing act can lead to deregulation of these response mechanisms, inappropriate immune responses and ultimately development of inflammatory disease.
Within our guts we have TLRs, or Toll-Like Receptors. They respond to the presence of unknown antigens and are able to unleash an inflammatory response to what it perceives as infection in the gut. Processed foods possess antigens that may not be recognized as “harmless” by these receptors. If your gut doesn’t recognize the antigens in your processed food, an inflammatory reaction could occur. If this happens enough, you’ve developed an inflammatory disease. So how do we avoid this fate? By foregoing the processed meals of today and returning to the one-ingredient food of our paleolithic past.
One-ingredient foods are lacking in those pesky antigens that set off our TLR receptors.
They’re the clear winning choice if you desire sustenance without the intestinal swelling and trauma. Filling your diet with one-ingredient foods like herbs, coconut oil (olive oil is also a great option), turkey, brown rice, broth, onions, garlic and lemons are always the core of my top food recommendations. Power foods also to include are cucumbers, broccoli, kale, swiss chard, various berries (think blueberry), and salmon are key to optimizing digestion. I also recommend these foods specifically for detoxification purposes. Take the blueberry for
Take the blueberry for example: daily ingestion of the blueberry boosts your immune system capabilities and reduces inflammation, not just in the gut but also throughout the body. “Acute ingestion [of blueberries] reduces oxidative stress and increases anti-inflammatory cytokines” (McAnulty). It’s such a super food it’s been suggested as a pre and post exercise snack, to avoid aches and swollen muscles the next day. They are also rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, found in any berry with blue/purple/black shades, which have been found to have potentially significant health benefits, including the ability to combat free radicals and other harmful oxidants.
As you all probably know from reading my articles, I believe in extra virgin, cold-pressed 0live oil, which has long been extolled as the king of oils. Dr. Pelucchi and associates of a pharmacological institute in Milan Italy note the high life expectancies of those who ingest a Mediterranean diet. We’ve all heard the rumors and rumblings about the “magic” of the long-lived Italians and their deliciously healthy meals. Their secret ingredient? Olive oil and minimally processed foods. Pelucchi studied the effects of the Mediterranean diet on the risk of cancer amongst native Italians and found that “Olive oil and unsaturated fats, which are typical aspects of the Mediterranean diet, were inversely related to the risk of several cancers, particularly of the upper aerodigestive tract”. Simply by switching out processed foods that contain mostly saturated, rancid- fats–opting for coconut and olive oil instead–can potentially decrease your risk of cancer, particularly of the digestive variety. Now we know that olive oil is a heart healthy choice, and now a gut healthy option as well, there’s no reason not to love the olive!
We live in a fairly well-educated society, we’re in the know about how often we need to exercise, to avoid that Big Mac and to wash our hands more often when it’s flu season. But staying healthy is becoming more complicated by the day, the right choices hidden behind easily available foods with questionable ingredients. Your gut does it’s best to do right by you, and combat all the antigens and microbes you’re exposed to. It’s time to help it stay in balance, by incorporating more one-ingredient foods into your diet. With a wide range of options from turkey to kale to blueberries and olive oil, you’re hardly limited. And when they have the ability to prevent cancer, lengthen your life, decrease inflammation and combat the blues you’ve really got nothing to lose. So find your edible “One”, or as many “ones” as you can. Your gut, and your immune system, will thank you for it.
Try a healthy, one ingredient recipe like my Chicken with Herbes de Provence.