Aloha! My name is Nicole and I am from the dietetic intern program at OHSU. I was born and raised in Hawaii and just recently moved up to Portland for schooling. So I guess you can say that I am still getting used to this crazy weather! For the past couple of weeks, I have been helping Annika with a ton of different things like preparing beds for garlic, hoeing the weeds, harvesting, washing the goods (AKA vegetables) and assisting Annika with CSA pick up.
This newsletter may look a tiny bit different since I will be completing it for one of my learning activities that we get to do during rotations. In this newsletter I will be touching on how prebiotic foods can affect our gut health.
Recently, gut health has been a hot topic in the nutrition community. Now before you go “ughh why do I need to know about gut health?? I am perfectly fine! This sounds booooring. Thank you, next.” Gut health is extremely important for brain health! 90% of your body’s serotonin (happy hormone) is produced in your gut from tiny little guys called microorganisms. Have you ever had a gut feeling or butterflies in your stomach? These sensations from your belly suggest that your brain and gut are connected. Recent studies have shown that your brain affects your gut health and your gut may even affect your brain health.
If you’re a health nut like me, you may have noticed that prebiotics and probiotics have been the “cool kids on the block” for the past couple of years. Prebiotics are a special form of dietary fiber that’s kind of like food for the good bacteria in your gut. This helps the gut bacteria produce nutrients for your colon cells and leads to a healthier digestive system. Probiotics, not to be confused with prebiotics, are live bacteria that are in yogurt and other fermented foods
Not every fiber is a prebiotic. There are two categories of dietary fiber: soluble fiber, which is a prebiotic because gut bacteria can break it down and use it for energy, and insoluble fiber, which can’t be broken down by gut bacteria, so it provides no nutrition to the bacteria.
If your gut bacteria doesn’t get their food (aka soluble fiber), they will eat your mucus lining in your intestines for food. This is a HUGE problem since they damage the barrier that keeps microorganisms, food particles and waste from entering the blood stream. This results in a leaky gut. “Leaky Gut” is exactly what it sounds like. Your gut is literally leaking into the bloodstream through the damaged barrier. This spikes inflammation in the body, as the immune system goes on high-alert to get rid of whatever has leaked into the bloodstream. Leaky gut has been linked to a number of health problems like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.
The secret to keeping those little guys in your gut energized and healthy is to eat prebiotic foods. Well, you folks are already a step in the right direction! Every Friday you pick up a gorgeous bag of farm fresh produce that has been harvested within the last 24 hours (seriously, how amazing is that?!).
So, go ahead and channel your inner chef and get creative with that amazing veggie haul you folks just picked up! This is a HUGE step in the right direction in terms of gut health. Our gut has a wide variety of good and bad microorganisms. The good microorganisms flourish when we eat a wholesome diet but when we eat processed foods that lack fiber, it is difficult for the good microorganisms to thrive in.
**Please consult your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. This general information is not intended to treat any medical condition.
This Week’s Share Contents:
Bob’s Red Mill Pearl Barley
15 Minute Vegetable Lo Mein (We love this recipe! It is delicious, and easy to adapt with any vegetables we have on hand.)