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Digestive Health Part 1: The Power of a Healthy Gut

This is the first of a four-part series on digestive health. In this post you will learn:

  • What it means to have a healthy gut
  • How your gut bacteria influences your health
  • How to use Fx Pillar #6 – Functional Foods – to support the health of your gut

There is a brilliant 30-foot system inside of you called your digestive system, also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The main job of your digestive system is to convert food into essential nutrients, which are then absorbed into your body. I’d say that’s pretty important! It’s also why you want to make sure your gut health is in tip-top shape!

What does it mean to have a “healthy” gut?

A healthy gut is one that contains friendly bacteria and immune cells to ward off infectious agents like bacteria and viruses. A healthy gut also supports well-being by communicating with your brain through nerves and hormones.

How your gut bacteria influences your health

One of the drivers of gut health change is a shift in your microbiome—which is the collection of microorganisms including bacteria and fungi that live in your digestive system. Keeping the good bacteria thriving and the bad bacteria at bay can positively affect many key areas of health, including your:

  • Overall sense of well-being
  • Immune system
  • Risk of developing certain diseases
  • Quality of sleep
  • Digestion
  • Proportion of body fat

The good news is you can actually manipulate your gut bacteria to assure the survival and growth of good bacteria. How? By paying attention to what you put in your mouth.

How Fx Pillar #6 can help support the health of your gut

Fx Pillar 6- Remember functional foods: fresh herbs and fermented foods

Functional foods are those foods offering positive health benefits above and beyond basic nutrition. At the top of this list is fermented foods.

These are foods and beverages that have gone through controlled microbial growth and fermentation. Fermentation is a process in which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria break down food components like sugars and starches into other products such as organic acids, gases or alcohol. The end result is a food or beverage containing live healthy bacteria!

Fermented foods include:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Fermented soybeans: natto, miso, and tempeh
  • Fermented vegetables: raw sauerkraut, kimchi, beets, pickles, carrots
  • Kefir: fermented milk
  • Kombucha: fermented tea
  • Fermented cheeses
  • Unflavored/unsweetened plant-based or cow’s milk yogurt

Food for thought …

When it comes to fermented foods, a little goes a long way. Two servings a day is a nice goal, however if you’re new to fermented foods I would start small and slow. For example, top off your lunch salad with a spoonful of Heinen’s raw sauerkraut and drizzle it with Bragg salad dressing. I like making my own salad dressing using Bragg apple cider vinegar, Heinen’s avocado oil and a handful of other ingredients. Here’s my favorite recipe: Simple Vinaigrette Dressing.

In part two of this series on digestive health, you will learn why dietary fiber is key to maintaining a healthy gut and how to best incorporate fiber in your diet to avoid unwanted side effects.

Want additional support on your journey to better health?

Our talented team of Wellness Consultants are eager to partner with you! Get started with a free Club Fx Intro or Cart Check. Or, if you are interested in diving a bit deeper into optimizing your health, Club Fx members have access to additional services with Heinen’s Registered Dietitians for a fee. For more information on any of these services or to schedule an appointment, visit and click on the “Personalized Nutrition Services” tab at the top.

Dr. Todd Pesek, M.D.
By Dr. Todd Pesek, MD
Todd Pesek, M.D. is a holistic physician who specializes in disease prevention and reversal toward longevity and vital living. In addition to being Heinen’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Todd is the founder of VitalHealth Partners, a private group medical practice that focuses on preventive, integrative, holistic healthcare.

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