The Fruitful Life

What Makes a Healthy Gut? (plus gut-boosting recipes!)

What Makes a Healthy Gut? (plus gut-boosting recipes!)

Today we welcome back holistic nutritionist and certified personal trainer Jennifer Hanway! Today she shared her wealth of wisdom with us in a Facebook Live Event. Missed the event? No worries, we have Jennifer's notes right here, as well as some of her delicious, gut-healthy recipes!

What Is A Healthy Gut?

What do we mean by the gut, digestive system or GI tract? Well, it starts with the brain, not the mouth, and goes all the way through the body (it's over 25 feet long). The gut is how our internal world interacts and communicates with our external world.

Our digestive tract houses between 70-80 percent of our immune system, and determines what we digest and absorb from the food we eat. There are two aspects we need to consider when talking about the health of our guts: the integrity of the epithelial lining of our GI tracts, and our microbiome (the population of bacteria that live there).

Integrity of the epithelial lining: the lining of our GI tract is just one cell thick, and between the cells are tight junctions that either let nutrients in, or keep out pathogens. When this integrity is compromised we call this intestinal permeability, or "leaky gut."

The microbiome: our microbiome is the population of good and bad bacteria, yeasts and molds that live in the mucosa on the epithelial lining of our GI tracts. Our microbiome plays an important role in our immune systems, our mood and mental health, what we digest, and even what type of foods we like and dislike!

Symptoms Of Poor Gut Health

So how do we know if we have impaired gut health? There are the obvious symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and stomach cramps. But poor gut health can also lead to low energy, hormone imbalances, chronic fatigue, weight gain or loss, and poor concentration and reduced mental cognition.

Poor gut health is also one of the root causes of chronic inflammation, which can manifest itself in skin issues such as acne, eczema and rosacea, as well as brain fog and joint pain. Inflammation also plays a key role in all auto-immune conditions and chronic diseases.

When our gut health is impaired, we can suffer from malabsorption, which means we are not properly absorbing the macro (carbohydrates, protein and minerals) and micro (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, minerals) nutrients from our foods. Our bodies need an abundance of nutrients just to survive, and even more so for optimum health and wellness. When we do not receive and absorb these from our food, we can suffer from health issues such as fatigue, poor concentration, low thyroid function, hair loss and the inability to recover from illness and stressful situations.

In addition to this, when we have poor gut health food particles, toxins and pathogens can get into the bloodstream, causing food intolerances and an increased toxic burden. This can trigger our immune system, setting off an inflammatory response throughout the body.

Causes Of Poor Gut Health

There are so many aspects of our modern lives that can contribute to poor gut health. For most people there is not one stand-alone cause, but a number of factors that can contribute to increased intestinal permeability and an imbalanced microbiome. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Epigenetics
  • Poor diet: highly processed, allergenic and inflammatory foods
  • Tap water
  • Dehydration
  • Not chewing your food
  • Too little or poor-quality sleep
  • Stress and the release of cortisol
  • Environmental toxins
  • Medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Poor oral health
  • Alcohol abuse


Top 3 Nutritional Strategies to Improve Gut Health

1. Minimize intake of processed foods. By reducing our intake of processed foods we automatically avoid the chemicals, additives, flavorings and colorings that can harm our gut. Replace them with whole food, nutrient-dense fresh fruits and veggies, great quality proteins and a variety of good fats. Avoid foods that have wrappers or contain more than 5 ingredients, and ensure that everything you are eating resembles its original form! Not only will you avoid the gut-harming ingredients, but you will enjoy the benefits of nutrient-rich foods that boost your overall health and vitality.

2) Eat more plants. Ensure you are eating 7-9 cups of beautiful green, red, yellow and purple produce every day! Eating more fruits and veggies provides innumerable gut health and wellness benefits, helps balance blood sugar, and ensures an abundance of micronutrients. Eating more plants also helps boost digestion, move toxins out of the body, and feed your microbiome, so eat the rainbow every day!

3) Include fermented foods. Including fermented foods on a regular basis (at least 3 times a week) is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to improve your gut health! Fermented foods provide us with a plethora of good bacteria that feed and nourish our microbiome. One of my favorite super quick breakfasts is a coconut yogurt with hemp seeds, berries and nuts, and I love to add fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut or kimchi to my salads, sandwiches and wraps. Tempeh and Natto are wonderful fermented sources of plant-based protein, and I choose Kombucha as a great alternative to sugary soda.

The Benefits of Fermentation

Fermented foods not only feed and nourish our microbiome, but they are an incredible source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients too. New Chapter’s patented fermentation process unlocks and activates nutrients, making them easier and more available for your body to absorb. The fermentation process means you can also take them at any time of the day, even on an empty stomach, making them simple to add into your daily health routine.

New Chapter Every Woman’s One Daily

(Buy 2 New Chapter products, get $10 off!* Coupon code: NEWCHAPTER2)

My morning supplement routine used to consist of taking a number of different supplements, (which got both expensive and time consuming), so I was thrilled to discover New Chapter’s Every Woman’s One Daily Multi. It is my go-to daily supplement to keep me feeling energized, vibrant, and in optimum health on a cellular level*. It’s designed for busy, active women like me and I think of it as the best health insurance policy I’ll ever spend money on!

Even those eating the healthiest of diets can benefit from taking a multivitamin. In 2010 the National Health and Nutrition Survey found that American adults of all ages were deficient in many of the most important micronutrients for health, including Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Potassium and Magnesium.

There are many reasons why our daily diets are deficient in these essential micronutrients: modern-day farming processes have dramatically reduced the amounts of micronutrients in our produce. Prescription medications can also drastically lower our levels vitamins and minerals. Combine this with increased environmental toxins and the stress of our non-stop lives (when the body makes high levels of cortisol, our stress hormone, it does it by ‘stealing’ nutrients from other systems such as our endocrine cycle and immune system), and we can see why we need some extra help in getting the vitamins and minerals that are needed for every single healthy metabolic process.

New Chapter Probiotic All-Flora (and new probiotics)

As I mentioned earlier, our microbiome is made up of a host of bacteria and yeasts, all working together as part of your immune system, so it is important that your probiotic doesn't just contain bacteria alone. In my practice I’ve learned that rebalancing your microbiome is just as important as replenishing the good bacteria, but it is a step that is often neglected. When your microbiome is unbalanced it can cause GI distress, gas, bloating, constipation and even food intolerances, and can negatively affect our immune system.

New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora contains both DNA tested strains of beneficial bacteria (Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium breve) to keep your good gut flora healthy and flourishing, and Saccharomyces boulardii, a beneficial yeast that reduces problematic yeast overgrowth throughout our digestive tracts. *  

Once our gut flora is rebalanced and replenished we want to ensure we keep it that way, and I love that New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora also contains prebiotics to fuel our microbiome, and postbiotics to boost probiotic activity and benefit overall gut health.* It also contains a blend of fermented organic herbs designed to boost and support digestive function, including aloe, peppermint, coriander, cardamom and artichoke.*

It’s so simple to implement into your daily health and wellness routine, as you only have to take one a day and it does not have to be refrigerated, so it is perfect for travel.

New Chapter Fermented Booster Powders

(Buy 2 New Chapter products, get $10 off!* Coupon code: NEWCHAPTER2)

New Chapter’s Fermented Booster Powders are hands-down my favorite products, and they are so easy to add into the recipes I make on a daily basis to give a boost of vitamins, minerals, and energizing, stress-relieving adaptogens. I keep all four on my kitchen counter to add to smoothies, lattes and salad dressing, or even just stir into a glass of cool filtered water.

New Chapter’s Fermented Maca Booster Powder is my go-to for an energy boost without the crash of caffeine, and it also helps me to get through tough workouts and boosts recovery after training. Every morning I pop a serving of this in my breakfast smoothie and I can’t get through the day without it!

New Chapter’s Fermented Turmeric Booster Powder is wonderful for helping me maintain a healthy inflammatory response and helps keep my brain and heart in optimum healthy. It’s great in salad dressings and sauces, and I love its slightly spicy taste.

New Chapter’s Fermented Black Seed Booster Powder is packed full of herbs and adaptogens that help me deal with stress, and it also helps to boost memory, which is essential for me as I am currently studying for an advanced degree and writing a book! It has a slightly minty taste and I love to add in into recipes with cacao, such as the Iced Hot Chocolate I’ll be sharing with you soon!

New Chapter’s Fermented Aloe Booster Powder is wonderful for soothing and calming the digestive system, so I turn to a serving of this stirred into a glass of cool water after I travel, or if I feel my digestion is slightly compromised due to stress or a poor food choice. It’s also wonderful for up-regulating the body’s natural detoxification processes and is a great addition to any kind of cleanse or detox program.


Green Superfood Smoothie with New Chapter Fermented Maca Booster Powder


Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Enjoy!

Iced Superfood Hot Chocolate with New Chapter Fermented Black Seed Powder

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until frothy! Serve over ice and drink immediately.⠀

Probiotic Tahini and Lemon Salad Dressing with New Chapter Fermented Turmeric Booster Powder

Place all ingredients in a mason jar and shake until combined. Drizzle over your favorite salad greens and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to one week.

(Buy 2 New Chapter products, get $10 off!* Coupon code: NEWCHAPTER2)

*Coupon Details: Get $10.00 off when you buy 2 New Chapter products in-store or online. For online purchases, coupon code must be applied at check-out to receive discount. Coupon cannot be applied to previous purchases. Valid 5/17/19 thru 5/24/19.

Disclaimer: Content contained in this article is not intended to provide or to constitute medical or healthcare advice. Nor can it be relied upon as preventative care, cure, or treatment for any disease or medical condition. You should consult a qualified healthcare professional for advice regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and before starting any supplementation, nutritional, exercise, or other medical program.

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