Recipes

How To Improve Gut Health

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” 

Our gut plays a huge role in our overall health

And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we’re not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We’re talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies. 

There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It’s here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We’re just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of “the gut-brain axis”). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health. 

 

So, let’s talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I’ll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally. 

 

Our gut’s role in our overall health 

 

Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out. 

 

This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places. 

 

For one thing, our guts can “leak.” Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it’s not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can “leak.” When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don’t seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there. 

 

FUN FACT: About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut. 

 

A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health. 

 

The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar. 

 

So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health! 

 

Belly photo with cartoon bugs.

How to improve gut health 

 

There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health.

Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with. How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels. 

 

You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.  

 

By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colorful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish. 

The second pillar of gut health is our microbes.

By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet. 

 

Want to make your own fermented recipe that’s easy, delicious and is healthy for your gut? Check out the recipe below.

 

Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed the friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao. 

 

And don’t forget the extremely important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, dealing with stress, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function. 

In a nutshell 

The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes. 

The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, alcohol, dairy, and grains. 

Here’s a recipe to help nourish and support your gut health:

Fermented Carrots (Probiotic-rich)

Category: Fermented Foods

Servings: 12

Carrot Bunch

Ingredients

  • 1 Liter warm water
  • 4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 organic carrots, medium, peeled, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)

Instructions

  1. Make a brine by dissolving the salt in water.
  2. Place carrots into a clean canning jar, packing them in tight. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of headspace at the top.
  3. Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don't float (you can use a fermenting weight).
  4. Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop. Feel free to open and taste.
  5. Serve & enjoy!

Notes

Tip: Use this as a side dish, or even a snack. 

https://www.naturalhealthanswers.com/how-to-improve-gut-health/
 

Woman's hands forming heart over her stomach.

References: 

https://authoritynutrition.com/does-all-disease-begin-in-the-gut/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health
http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

20 Candida Diet Approved Snack Ideas (that are easy and delicious!)

When you go on the Candida diet and start making your health a top priority you might realize that your favorite snacks are no longer suitable for your new lifestyle. Fear not! There are SO many delicious sugar-free snack ideas that are tasty, nutrient-dense and totally guilt-free.

I remember feeling so discouraged after learning about all the foods I had to avoid when starting the Candida diet. All the crazy emotions from sadness to anger arose when I knew I had to get off of sugar plus I felt so overwhelmed when it came to figuring out what I was going to eat.

This was back when the internet was very new and Candida information was hard to come by. Fast forward 20+ years and now there’s an overload of information on the interwebs and it can make your head spin! My goal is to help make things easier and less stressful for you.

20 Sugar Free Snacks Perfect For the Candida Diet

Here are a few of my favorite snacks that will work perfectly for you if you’re on the Candida diet, going sugar-free, or if you’re just wanting to eat healthier:

Easy and delicious sugar-free,
dairy-free, gluten-free Candida diet snacks:

  1. Olives
  2. Veggie sticks with dairy-free cream cheese spread
  3. Roasted almonds or other nuts (avoid peanuts, pistachios, cashews on the Candida diet)
  4. Apples and almond butter
  5. Unsweetened Coconut milk and berries
  6. Pumpkin puree with cinnamon and stevia
  7. Sprouted pumpkin seeds
  8. Sprouted Sunflower seeds
  9. Sprouted Watermelon Seeds
  10. Kale chips
  11. Cauliflower florets with nutritional yeast (check out this excellent article about nutritional yeast and Candida overgrowth)
  12. Frozen blueberries or raspberries
  13. Sugar-free chia pudding
  14. Turkey jerky
  15. Grass-fed beef jerky strips
  16. Salt and vinegar zucchini chips (use apple cider vinegar for the Candida diet)
  17. Green smoothie with a scoop of protein powder (I like this one or this one may be a good option for you)
  18. A spoonful of coconut oil
  19. Egg muffins
  20. Hard-boiled egg or Deviled egg

There can be so much confusion and frustration related to what to eat on the Candida diet. My hope is that these ideas will help give you some relief, hope and maybe even some excitement to try new foods!

Instead of looking at the diet as what you can’t eat, let’s shift this thought into the amazing amount of yummy things you can eat. These foods are going to boost your nutrition while being satisfying and delicious.

Everyone has different tastes and preferences when it comes to food so you’ll need to make choices that agree with you.

Deprivation, stress and overwhelm should not be a part of your plan when it comes to getting healthier be it the Candida diet or any other change you’re making with your food plan

These snacks will work for you if you are wanting to avoid the health-damaging effects of refined sugar, want to shed some excess “lb’s”, want to lower inflammation, and just want to feel better overall.

The Candida diet also forces you to get creative in the kitchen like never before.

Experiment with new ideas and you’ll be shocked by what you discover. Some of my all-time favorite recipes came from the creative discoveries I made when I finally chose to change my life and put my health first for once by ditching sugar for good.

Here are some more snack ideas:

Sugar-free Coconut Cupcakes

Keto Macaroon Fat Bombs

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Have you tried any of these easy and delicious snacks? What is your go-to snack while on the Candida diet? Let me know in the comments!

20 Sugar Free Snacks Perfect For the Candida Diet

Three Must Eat Sugar-Free Breakfast Foods

Do you love your breakfast?  Do you have a short list of “go-to” recipes?  Do you need a bit of inspiration to start eating breakfast again?

Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, metabolism, and weight loss. 

This is because protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolize it. 

So I’m going to show you how to get the protein, as well as some veggies and healthy fats for your soon-to-be favorite new “go-to” sugar-free and Candida-diet friendly breakfasts.

Breakfast Food #1: Eggs

Are eggs a healthy choice for breakfast? Check out these three must eat sugar-free breakfast foods with recipes.

Yes, eggs are the “quintessential” breakfast food.  And for good reason!

No, I’m not talking about processed egg whites in a carton.  I mean actual whole “eggs”. 

Egg whites are mostly protein while the yolks are the real nutritional powerhouses.  Those yolks contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats.

Eggs have been shown to help you feel full, keep you feeling fuller longer, and help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin.

Not to mention how easy it is to boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in the fridge for a “grab and go” breakfast when you’re running short on time.

And…nope the cholesterol in eggs is not associated with an increased risk of arterial or heart diseases. 

One thing to consider is to try to prevent cooking the yolks at too high of a temperature because that can cause some of the cholesterol to become oxidized.  It’s the oxidized cholesterol that’s heart unhealthy.

Tip: Are you buying store brand organic eggs? You’ll be shocked to learn that these are not a healthy choice. Check out Cornucopia.org and specifically this page for an organic egg scorecard to find the healthiest eggs in your area. My favorite are eggs from Vital Farms…the yolks are a beautiful orange color which means healthy eggs and they’re oh so delicious!

Breakfast Food #2: Nuts and/or Seeds

Nuts and seeds contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  Nuts and/or seeds would make a great contribution to breakfast.

Don’t be fooled by “candied” nuts, sweetened nut/seed butter, or chia “cereals” with added sugars – you know I’m talking about the real, whole, unsweetened food here.

Nuts and seeds are also the ultimate fast food if you’re running late in the mornings.  Grab a small handful of organic almonds, walnuts, or sprouted pumpkin seeds as you’re running out the door; you can nosh on them while you’re commuting.

Not to mention how easy it is to add a spoonful of nut or seed butter into your morning breakfast smoothie.

Hint: If you like a creamy latte in the mornings try making one with nut or seed butter.  Just add your regular hot tea and a tablespoon or two of a creamy nut or seed butter in your blender & blend until frothy. 

Tip: Soak your nuts overnight and then use a  dehydrater to make them easier to digest. 

Breakfast Food #3: Veggies

Breakfast Food: Say Yes to Veggies for Breakfast!

Yes, you already know you really should get protein at every meal including breakfast; but this also applies to veggies.  You know I would be remiss to not recommend veggies at every meal, right? 

Veggies are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, and water.  You can’t go wrong adding them to every single meal of the day so if you don’t already you should definitely try them for breakfast! 

And no, you don’t need to have a salad or roasted veggies for breakfast if you don’t want to but you totally can!  You wouldn’t be breaking any “official” breakfast rules or anything like that.

Adding some protein to leftover veggies is a great combination for any meal.  Including breakfast.

I’ve included a delicious recipe below for you to try (and customize) for your next breakfast.

Veggie Omelet
Serves 1
A quick and easy sugar-free, Candida-diet friendly breakfast that's healthy and delicious too!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  2. 1 or 2 eggs (how hungry are you?)
  3. ¼ cup veggies (grated zucchini and/or sliced spinach and/or diced peppers)
  4. dash salt, pepper and/or turmeric
Instructions
  1. Add coconut oil to a frying pan and melt on low-medium heat (cast-iron pans are preferred).
  2. In the meantime grab a bowl and beat the egg(s) with your vegetables of choice and the spices.
  3. Tilt pan to ensure the bottom is covered with the melted oil. Pour egg mixture into pan and lightly fry the eggs without stirring.
  4. When the bottom is lightly done flip over in one side and cook until white is no longer runny.
  5. Serve & Enjoy!
  6. Tip: Substitute grated, sliced, or diced portion of your favorite vegetable. Try grated carrots, chopped broccoli, asparagus or diced tomato.
Natural Health Answers https://www.naturalhealthanswers.com/

Check out my other sugar-free, Candida-diet friendly breakfast recipes: Turkey Sausage Patties and  Paige’s Protein Smoothie 

References:

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

Dairy-free Ranch Dressing Recipe | Candida Diet Recipes | Natural Health Answers

Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing

This dairy-free ranch dressing is the bomb dot com!

Dairy-free Ranch Dressing Recipe | Candida Diet Recipes | Natural Health Answers

I recently found this recipe from Ashley over at Blissful Basil and wanted to try it ASAP.  I didn’t have the fresh ingredients that she had listed for the recipe but my creamy ranch craving took over and I dove in any way.  

I raided my herb cabinet and scanned for the closest ingredients to the original recipe. Boom. Nailed it.   

Of course, if you have all the fresh ingredients please create your masterpiece from Ashley’s original recipe. You can mix and match and make this recipe your own with tweaks to your taste buds liking.

Even my hubby offered the “this is really good” and “what did you say was in this?”  comments while inhaling the tangy creaminess on a blue corn chip.  He’s not a fan of coconut and is a dairy fan so I thought this was a bit of a coup for my kitchen skills.

I made this again today and forgot the nutritional yeast that I had added on my first batch and I noticed that I liked it a bit better with the nutritional yeast added.  Nutritional yeast is a seasoning that does not contain yeast and does not contribute to Candida overgrowth.  If you haven’t tried it yet, it has a “cheese-like” flavor although I really don’t think it tastes that “cheesy” to me.  

Although nutritional yeast does not contribute to Candida overgrowth it’s important to be aware that some will be sensitive to it while dealing with a Candida imbalance. When trying a new food on the Candida diet it’s best to start with a small amount to see if you react in any way to the food.   

Some of the things to watch out for are fatigue, racing heart, brain fog, headaches, stomach upset, diarrhea, gas, etc. after eating a new food which will alert you to a sensitivity.  Also, you may not feel the effects of the food for up to three days later!  So only introduce one new food at a time so you will know exactly which food is causing the symptoms.  It’s best to leave out any foods that cause any problems until further along in your healing.

If you’re not into making your own because you’re pressed for time, don’t want to buy all the ingredients or just want to make life easier I found this dairy-free ranch dressing that I was ecstatic about because it doesn’t have any sugar, hydrogenated oils and tastes good. Oh, and it’s healthy for you!

So with all of that being said, I hope you enjoy this recipe, with or without the nutritional yeast!  

 
Reader Feedback: Are you a ranch dressing fan?  Have you been missing the creaminess of dairy on the Candida diet?  Let me know if this gives you hope! 😉

Useful kitchen tools to help you make healthy meals including this recipe:

Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing
Makes 2 cups
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight (do not use light coconut milk)
  2. 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  4. 2 teaspoons onion powder
  5. 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  6. 2 teaspoons dried basil
  7. 1-1/2 teaspoons dried dill
  8. 1 teaspoons nutritional yeast (optional)
  9. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  10. black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the coconut cream of the top of the can and add to a large bowl or a magic bullet or nutribullet cup. Leave the coconut water in the can.
  2. Add 4 tablespoons of the coconut water into the coconut cream in your bowl or cup (whisk until smooth if using a bowl). Keep the leftover coconut water in case you need an extra tablespoon or two after refrigerating your dressing depending on how thick you like it.
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Stir or blend to combine.
  4. Refrigerate dressing for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld together.
Notes
  1. Enjoy the dressing over your favorite salad, use as a dip for your favorite veggies or use it in a wrap or on a sandwich (with grain-free bread of course!).
Adapted from Blissful Basil
Adapted from Blissful Basil
Natural Health Answers https://www.naturalhealthanswers.com/

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Dairy-free Ranch Dressing Recipe | Candida Diet Recipes | Natural Health Answers

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Candida Diet Approved – Kale Chips Recipe

 

 

 

Sugar-free Candida diet snack recipe - Kale Chips

Have you tried Kale Chips Yet?

I’m a fan of snacks.

I know some people who don’t really need to snack and others who feel like a snack keeps them going during the day.  I have one snack during the day between lunch and dinner and then something small after dinner. 

Sometimes I think it can be a habit but I also feel better when I have something small to tide me over until dinner since I feel it keeps my blood sugar more stable.

Also, snacks just taste good! 

You’ve probably seen a lot of Kale Chip recipes all over the web but I wanted to share this one with you just in case a) you may not have seen this recipe before and b) it may inspire you to make these, like now!

I really, really dig Kale Chips.

They are crunchy which is my fave and also salty another fave. I also like eating them with or in a salad.

Since giving up pretzels, potato chips, crackers and other crunchy, salty and otherwise unhealthy snacks I was glad to have tried Kale Chips. 

If you’re just now transitioning to a more whole foods diet and are ready give the regular chips the ole heave-ho may I caution you to wait a bit to try Kale Chips.

They are sometimes an acquired taste but if you season them correctly they can be a fantastic replacement for the snacks that are loaded with harmful fats, refined salt and high in carbs.

Another thing to be aware of is that our taste buds usually adjust to the change in diet after about about 3 weeks and then they’ll be ready for some yumminess that is Kale Chips.

Reader Feedback: Have you tried Kale Chips yet?  Yay or Nay?

Kale Chips
Serves 2
A delicious, healthy alternative to chips, crackers and pretzels.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 bunch kale (washed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces)
  2. 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  3. 1 tsp Garlic Powder (or to taste)
  4. ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250°
  2. Place kale in a large bowl
  3. Drizzle 1/2 the coconut oil over kale, massage into kale
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 the garlic powder over kale along with 1/2 the salt
  5. Massage into the kale and then repeat steps 3 and 4
  6. Place kale on parchment lined baking sheet
  7. Bake at 250° for 8-10 minutes until kale is dark green and crispy (check often so they don’t turn brown as they will taste bitter)
  8. Cool and serve
Notes
  1. You'll want to eat these the same day you make them. I've tried saving them for the next day and they lost their crunch.
  2. Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Dairy-free.
Natural Health Answers https://www.naturalhealthanswers.com/

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