Your gut is key to healthy hair and strong nails, so here’s how to take care of it!

guthealthSlider

Does your hair have excess fallout? Or do your nails break easily? Then keep reading because we got to talk with Dr. Sara Celik, ND naturopathic doctor and spokesperson for Renew Life, about why gut health is important and what we should do to keep it healthy, so the rest of our body can reap the benefits too.

Why is it important to take care of the gut?

“Many experts agree that a healthy gut is the foundation to good health. The gut protects us from pathogenic invaders such as viruses and parasites — and carries over 70% of our immune system cells. It is also responsible for the safe removal of toxins, excess hormones, and cholesterol from the body.” says Celik. “When the gut is unhealthy, we see a range of disorders — food intolerances, chronic fatigue, skin conditions (e.g. eczema and acne), early signs of aging, thinning hair, and weak nails.”

If that’s what an unhealthy gut looks like, then what does a healthy one look like?

“Optimal gut health means more than just one bowel movement per day. There should be no signs of bloating, minimal gas, and no undigested food in the stool,” says Celik. “In today’s fast-paced world, we see a number of disorders linked to poor gut health, many of which have been linked to high levels of stress, poor nutrition, and the overuse of medications. Fatigue, bloating, chronic headaches, and reactions to certain foods are common in North America.”

Some of those definitely sound familiar to us,  but nursing the gut back to good health doesn’t need to be difficult.

“Increased toxic load, an imbalance of bacteria in the digestive tract, along with a compromised intestinal lining are often linked to these common complaints. Restoring gut health requires addressing all three of these areas — with cleansing, probiotics, and specific herbal ingredients to heal the gut lining,” says Celik.

On an individual basis, everyone’s bodies and eating habits are completely different, so how do we know what kind of dietary changes to make and to what extent?

“If an individual has food allergies, severe digestive issues, or has been on multiple rounds of antibiotics (which destroy healthy gut bacteria), they may need a more aggressive treatment plan. A Naturopathic Doctor may suggest they take a high potency probiotic that contains 100 billion active bacteria per day. If a person is in fairly good health and is looking to support a healthier gut, they may only need 50 billion active bacteria per day,” says Celik.

And what better way to heal the gut than through providing it with foods that contain those active gut-friendly bacteria? Probiotics are one prime example, as they “support healthier digestion, and help produce important vitamins such as vitamin B12.” That, along with a “diet rich in natural whole foods is important as well. Always aim to eat a balanced diet with adequate dark green leafy vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates.”

As for the specifics, Celik suggests adding these to our diets.

Pickled Beets

guthealthBeets

“This fermented food is rich in probiotic bacteria that supports a healthier gut. Pickled beets can be easily added to any salad or consumed on their own as a snack,” says Celik. We also love how they taste with goat cheese!

Flax Seeds

guthealthFlaxSeeds

Freshly ground flax seeds are a healthy source of fibre and the omega-3 fatty acid, ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid), and are great for cleansing the bowels. Add them to your morning cereal or toss them into your post-workout smoothie.

Garlic and Onions

guthealthGarlicandOnions

Garlic and onions act as prebiotics that fuel probiotics. They also help out your immune system by destroying harmful bacteria. Make a tasty tzatziki sauce by adding crushed garlic to Greek yogurt, while onions can be finely chopped and added to any wrap.

Chicory Root

guthealthChicoryRoot

Chicory root is a another prebiotic, traditionally used as a non-caffeinated coffee substitute. It can be brewed like regular coffee and sweetened with stevia, or you can also opt for a chicory root latte by mixing one tablespoon into steamed almond milk and honey.

Yacon Root

guthealthYaconRoot

Yacon root is a healthier alternative to white potatoes. It contains fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which act as food for probiotic bacteria. They can be thinly sliced and baked as an alternative to potato chips, or grated with fruits for a sweet fruit salad.

Seaweed

guthealthSeaweed

Seaweed is another food that is rich in antioxidants and prebiotics. Most of the fibre in seaweed is soluble, and since it remains undigested, it’s a great food source for friendly gut bacteria. Try an immune-boosting seaweed salad or add it into any soup recipe.