Elise Grauer is the Naturopath of JSHealth’s dreams. She’s the Clinical Director at Bodhi Wellness – a Melbourne-based integrative practice – where she specialises in digestive dysfunction, stress and mood disorders, immune function disorders and personalised nutrition. We love her vibrant and caring nature – but also her incredible wealth of knowledge about all things GUT! Something so many of us struggle with in this day and age. Read on to find out Elise’s top tips to heal your microbiome – the foundation for good gut health!
The secret is out! One of the best ways to achieve a healthier body and mind is to nourish and support the ecosystem of bacteria living inside your digestive system, known as the microbiome. The term microbiome is all the rage within the health world right now and it’s becoming increasingly clear why. As a Naturopathic Practitioner studying Functional Medicine, I’ve been lucky enough to learn from some of the experts in this field. Whilst there’s still a great deal we’re yet to discover, everyone agrees on one thing. In order to achieve and maintain optimal health it’s in our best interest to keep the trillions of microbes residing in our gut, healthy, happy and well fed!
Not only does the gut house a whopping 70-80% of our immune system, there is solid evidence linking the health of our microbiome to the health of our skin, digestive system, body weight, energy levels and mood – practically everything.
Here are my top 5 tips for supporting your gut bacteria to create a healthy, happy, thriving microbiome.
It’s been said many times before, that our gut is our second brain and with around 90% of neurotransmitters responsible for mood being produced in the gut, we can’t deny that stress has a pretty significant impact on gut health. The hormones released when we’re under stress (even low-grade chronic stress), can negatively influence our gut bacteria.
If your microbiome is out of balance it’s likely that your mind and mood may be too, contributing to anxiety, depression, fatigue or brain fog. When you understand this connection you can see why I love the saying “a healthier gut equals a happier you”.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand we live in an extremely face paced world where we often forget to stop and breathe. This is often true around mealtimes where I have been guilty of having one foot out the door whilst I gobble down breakfast (I’m sure I’m not alone!). However, taking time to eat mindfully, slow down and be present whilst we eat should become a non-negotiable. This together with a daily stress busting technique such as meditation, yoga, walking in nature or even dancing around to your favourite song, goes a long way in helping support a healthy, happy microbiome.
One of the best things you can do to nourish the good bacteria in your gut is to consume fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and natural yoghurt are trendy for good reason. They all contain natural sources of probiotics which when consumed, help to improve the entire functioning of the microbiome. By populating your ‘gut garden’ with more good bacteria you’re essentially able to crowd out unwanted bugs, creating a healthier balance. All you need is a small amount of any of these foods daily (if possible) to create positive change within the gut. I usually have patients start slowly and include just one tablespoon of sauerkraut or fermented veggies with a salad or even as a side with breakfast.
Although eating fermented foods is the most natural way to benefit from probiotic bacteria and keep your gut happy, there are many situations where taking a probiotic supplement is necessary. In clinic I see patients with complex, chronic digestive conditions and many of them find it difficult to consume fermented foods on a daily basis. Probiotic supplementation is one of my favourite tools for rebalancing the microbiome in more specific conditions such as eczema, candida, IBS or autoimmune disease. The thing to remember is, everyone’s microbiome is unique and will therefore benefit from different strains of good bacteria depending on your health concerns. Speaking to a health practitioner such as a Naturopath or Nutritionist who is skilled in assessing which strain or combination might be best for you is important.
By now you would be familiar with the concept of probiotics, but what are prebiotics? Simply put, they’re food for the friendly bacteria residing in your gut. I’m a huge fan of incorporating prebiotic foods into the diet and it’s easier than you’d think. Simply increase the variety of green veggies you’re already consuming (the more diverse range of veggies means a more diverse range of beneficial bacteria and in turn one very happy microbiome).
Some of the my favourites include asparagus, artichoke, fennel, dandelion greens, chicory, garlic and broccoli.
Then we move onto resistance starch, which you’ll find in bananas (unripe), potato, brown rice and barley. Resistance starch plays a key role in gut health as it promotes the production of an extremely beneficial substance known as butyrate. It is the preferred fuel source for gut repair, improving metabolism, reducing inflammation and nourishing the gut lining.
It’s plain and simple, consuming refined, processed sugar wreaks havoc on your gut and creates a very unhappy microbiome. Refined sugar is one of the microbiome’s worst enemies as it feeds the bad bacteria and prevents the growth of the good ones. Similarly artificial sweeteners aren’t the answer. Research shows these fake sugars negatively change the microbiome too, leading to inflammation, blood sugar dysregulation and poor metabolism. The real solution is to ditch the unnecessary sugars and where a little extra sweetness is required, opt for a more natural alternative such as fruit, some raw honey, stevia or fresh dates. Where chocolate is concerned, well, let’s just say a couple of pieces of dark chocolate every now and then for balance gets my tick of approval.
Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time. My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.
With kindest regards Samantha
I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.
When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.
I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.
Hey Jessica! I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again
I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!
Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.
Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!
I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).
I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud
My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.
I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
Let me know your email address so I can send you an eBook '7 Days on my plate' - a little gift from me to you!