As we roll into longer daylight hours, trees budding and flowers blossoming, many of us find ourselves unable to enjoy the outdoors due to seasonal allergies.
Do you know the secret to combating allergies may lie in the health of your digestive system? Do you have any digestive symptoms that are getting you down? Do you have abdominal pains, bloating, excess gas, irregularity? Do you feel sluggish after eating? Factors such as: consumption of processed foods, refined sugars, exposure to environmental pollutants, significant history of antibiotic use, past digestive infections, chronic stress and food allergies all can play a role in how happy our digestive systems are.
What can help to create healthy digestive balance?
- A diet of unrefined, nutrient rich foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds and lean protein sources. Choose from local super-foods such as: blueberries, blackberries, apples, pears, swiss chard, garlic, onions and beets.
- Avoidance of processed foods and refined sugars! Yes, that includes the vanilla latte and muffin on the way to work! Individualized cleansing diets can work wonders to help you “kick the sugar habit”, give your metabolism and energy a boost, reduce allergies and improve digestion – what have you got to lose?!
- Elimination of food sensitivities – get tested to see what may be holding you back and contributing to digestive, allergic or other symptoms in your body.
- Stress reduction practices – exercise, yoga, meditation, time in nature are all ways to help you feel better.
- Adding beneficial bacteria (probiotics), specific nutrients, a healthy blend of fibres or digestive enzymes may help to heal and balance your digestive function. Consult with your naturopathic doctor about which protocol is right for you.
A little info on probiotics……What is a probiotic anyway? There has been a lot of talk in the news and advertised on TV for products that contain probiotics such as yogurt or infant formula. They also occur naturally in some foods such as: fermented dairy and soy products, yogurts and some juices. Probiotics are live bacteria that when ingested support our internal digestive and immune health. We have what is estimated at over a trillion live, naturally occurring bacteria in our bodies, many of which play an essential in keeping us healthy. There are many types of supplemental probiotics and they differ in potency and strains that they contain, the most common products contain lactobacillus and acidophilus. It is best to consult with your naturopathic doctor to see what will be best to support your body. Recipe of the month: Have you ever wondered how to cook those leafy greens in a way that is delicious and nutritious?
Here is a great recipe that will help support healthy digestion and is packed with anti-oxidants:
Swiss Chard Saute
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1 cup sliced onion
- 1 bunch Swiss chard (approximately 8-12 leaves)
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Lightly blot leaves and stems dry. Slice off any stem ends that appear damaged. Making a V-shaped cut, slice the stem away from the leaf at the point where the stem becomes a single vein. Slice thick stems in half lengthwise; then slice stems into 1/2″ slices. Stack chard leaves one on top of the other, beginning with the largest leaf at the bottom of the stack and ending with the smallest leaf on top. Roll the leaves together tightly lengthwise to form one long roll of chard. Holding the roll tightly, cut through the roll to form 1/2″ ribbons of chard. Continue until entire roll of leaves is sliced. Heat a large skillet on medium heat; add olive oil. When oil is heated, add ginger and garlic together. Stir until lightly sauteed, approximately one minute. Add onions and chopped chard stems. Continue to stir frequently until onions are soft and translucent, about three minutes. Add chard leaves. Toss with other ingredients. Continue to stir about three-four minutes. The volume of leaves will be reduced significantly, and they should be still bright green, yet soft and slightly sweet to the taste. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.
Yield: 4 servings. *from The Bastyr Center for Natural Health Website