If you wanna get good gut health, you’ve gotta get with my friends. Make it last forever, digestive health never ends.
If you’re wondering what the digestive system and the spice girls have in common, you’re in for a wild ride.
There’s a plethora of things that affect the state of our gut microbiome, including our diet, our lifestyle, stress levels, physical activity, whether we smoke or drink, our weight, relationships and chemical exposure. When you first start looking after your gut, these factors can seem extremely overwhelming.
The best advice I can give you is, instead of allowing yourself to get overwhelmed, start slowly. With just a sprinkle of this and a dash of that, you’ll be on your way to gut health glory. Adding in a spoon of my Love Your Gut Powder can help too 🙂
This is where my love of the spice girls (but mostly, just my spice rack), comes into play.
While you can eat all of the fruit and vegetables in the world, there’s one simple thing that you can include every single day to take your gut health to the world stage. I’m talking about the sensational world of spices!
If you want to up-level your spice game, you gotta have some fun with spices. Below are six of my favourite herbs and spices for digestive health, plus a cultured mango and ginger kvass recipe that’ll convert even the biggest soft drink fanatic you know. Please pass this recipe onto them.
- If you want to spice up your life, get a hold of fennel seeds. These carminative seeds can reduce digestive cramping, gas and bloating as they have an anti-spasmodic effect on the smooth lining of the stomach (1). Fennel seeds can be effective for treating various conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel disease and intestinal candidiasis. They’re also anti-viral, can protect the liver and are antimicrobial to prevent infections. To keep the spice love going, try out my Fermented Turmeric and Fennel Cauliflower recipe here.
- Zingy, bold and bound to put a spring in your step, everyone loves ginger spice. The nanoparticles within ginger can prevent against alcohol-induced liver damage and create beneficial microbiome bacteria. Ginger can promote tissue repair of the gut lining to reduce symptoms of colitis, an inflammatory reaction in the colon that occurs commonly in autoimmune conditions and infections (2). Ginger is often used to reduce nausea in pregnancy as it’s safe and has minimal side effects. The gorgeous spice can be found in my magical mango and ginger kvass recipe below.
- You better stop… and admit your love for this herb. Mint is widely loved and used as a digestive aid. Not only can it help relieve symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome, it can also decrease digestive symptoms such as dyspepsia and nausea. Traditionally, mint was used to treat colic in infants, flatulence, diarrhoea, indigestion, nausea, vomiting and morning sickness (3). If you want a refresher, use fresh mint in my Pan-fried Pineapple with Fresh Mint and Coconut Yoghurt.
- Am I cheating if I include my favourite golden spice in here? Maybe, but I’m going to do it anyway. Turmeric is an active anti-inflammatory that will help keep your beautiful gut blossoming. While turmeric has a pungent taste, it actually acts as a carminative to reduce bloating and support the liver. Terrific turmeric is great for your tummy, and can be found in my Eggplant Bharta and Indian Dosas, Delicious Turmeric Seeded Loaf and my Nourishing Breakfast Bowl. If you want to get some extra tummy-loving turmeric into your life, try out my Golden Gut Blend– a delicious, gut-loving addition to any drink or meal that’s rich in iron, silica and plenty of other minerals.
- I don’t want to get carried away here, but let’s talk about carraway. This savoury spice can help heal the digestive system, ease stomach cramps and safely expel gas from the bowel to prevent fermentation from occurring in the stomach. Carraway has also been found to help reduce a loss of appetite, relieve constipation and kill off negative bacteria in the body due to its antimicrobial effects.
- While this herb doesn’t make a big deal of itself, I think it’s the real dill. Dill is used as a sedative, reducing flatulence, cramping and the growth of negative digestive bacteria. If you want to get the kids involved in dill-eating, try out my Cucumber Sailing Boats and my Brainy Salmon Pate.
Cultivate your inner ecosystem with this friendly ferment, designed to enhance your digestion and boost immunity. My Mango and Ginger Kvass from Supercharge Your Gut is a probiotic-rich drink that’s sweet and tart in all the right places. Move over Coca-Cola, this kvass is about to give you a run for your money!
Mango and Ginger Kvass
Makes about 500ml (17fl olz) or 2 cups
A refreshingly nourishing blend of probiotic and enzyme-rich sweetness and tartness, kvass is a fantastic alternative to soft drinks. You can vary the flavour using different fruits, such as apples, berries and pineapples. Bottoms up!
The culture starter is optional if using tap water and can be purchased online or from a health food store.
- 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped
- 2.5 cm (1 inch) knob of fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- culture starter (optional, if using tap water; check the packet instructions for the recommended quantity to use)
- filtered water, to almost fill the jar
Place the mango and ginger in a sterilised 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cup) mason jar and drizzle in the honey. Add the starter culture, if using.
Pour enough filtered water into the jar to cover the mixture, but leaving about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of breathing space at the top of the jar, to allow the pressure to build.
Cover the jar with plastic wrap, then screw the lid on tightly. Leave to sit on the counter for 2 days, shaking the jar periodically.
After 24–48 hours, you should notice some bubbles. After 24 hours, you can ‘burp’ your brew by opening the lid carefully and then retightening it. This will allow carbon dioxide to be released, so you don’t have an explosion!
On day two, check your fruit to ensure it is bubbling. It should taste slightly tangy.
Strain the fruit, pour the kvass into a sterilised glass bottle and store in the fridge. It will keep for 3–4 days.
Most fruits can be left to ferment for up to 7 days, but so fruits such as banana, mango and papaya can be ready in 2 days. It’s best not to over-ferment them, as they can become very sour.