Spring, Sprouts and Gut Health
After a cruel, gray winter we’ve finally made it to spring! The past few weeks have brought many (on and off again…) warm and sunny days, budding trees, flowers and a much needed new desire to spend time outdoors again.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is associated with the liver and gallbladder - organs that are key players in the functionality of our digestive system. So with the warmth, wetness and growth associated with spring I thought it would be appropriate to go over a few key ways we can support our digestion and gut health.
1. Hydration - When we are properly hydrated, our body is able to produce the necessary fluid and enzymes to break down and absorb the nutrients we ingest through diet. Without adequate hydration, our digestion can become sluggish, contributing to constipation, bloating and indigestion.
Water, broths and herbal teas are all great ways to help us stay hydrated and nourish our gut tissue. Look for herbal teas with ingredients like liquorice root, dandelion root, ginger, fennel, chamomile and peppermint to help support digestion.
2. Fibre - Fibre helps promote regulate bowel movements, supports the growth of healthy gut bacteria, helps to regulate our blood sugar levels throughout the day and lowers cholesterol levels. Consuming your favourite fruits, vegetables and sprouts regularly is the best way to increase your fibre intake.
3. Grow your very own sprouts - DIY sprouting is one of my favourite ways to increase access to nutrient-dense foods, and actually also includes the first two steps of supporting gut health with hydration and fibre. As seeds germinate, they absorb water and convert it into the nutrients needed for the sprouts to grow. This means that sprouts have a high water content and are hydrating when consumed. Sprouts are also an excellent source of dietary fibre - during the germination process, the seed’s complex carbohydrates are broken down into simpler molecules, including fibre.
Alfalfa, broccoli, peas, chickpeas, mung beans, lentils and sunflower seeds are all great candidates for turning into sprouts! Sprouts have up to 100 times more enzymes than raw foods - this puts them into a whole new category of nutritious foods. Their incredibly high enzyme content is what makes them a literal living food. The enzymes also increase the seed’s bioavailability of vitamin A, C, B’s, K, and minerals like magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and selenium.
When I started sprouting from home a few years ago I was pleasantly surprised at how much less effort the entire process was than I initially thought it would be. I was also very pleased with how much money I was saving by not spending $8 on sprouts from the grocery store every week.
I highly recommend getting into DIY sprouting! It’s a great way to bring more vitamins, minerals, protein sources, fibre and living food into your life. It’s also really sweet and fun to watch life burst from the sprouts over a 3-4 day period, and of course they make a wonderful, crunchy nutritious addition to a bowl, salad, sandwich or wrap. See the end of this post for instructions on how to sprout your very own sprouts!
Gut health really is foundational and connected to every system in the body. There are so many ways to support your gut from nutrition, to movement, mindset, herbs, breathing, routine - the list of possibilities goes on. If you’re interested in learning more about supporting your gut, hormones, nervous system and skin through nutrition, herbs and lifestyle with a certified holistic nutritionist, check out my offerings at Laya at https://www.layaspaandyoga.com/holisticnutrition. I also offer free 20 minute discovery calls so you can get a better sense of whether you’d like to go forward in working together. If working on your gut health is something you’re interested in doing, I’d love to connect with you! Call the Laya Front Desk at 647-438-9032 or book through the Laya website. You can also follow my instagram account @sealemon.nutrition for more posts on how to support your gut health.
How to sprout your very own sprouts:
A wide mouth mason jar
Cheese cloth, cut into a piece big enough to fit over the jar
An elastic band
Seeds of choice (ie. alfalfa, broccoli, peas, chickpeas, mungbeans, lentils, quinoa, sunflower seeds)
Filtered water (if possible)
Soak your seeds overnight: in a wide-mouth mason jar add your seeds (1 tablespoon if they are small seeds, up to a cup for bigger seeds) and soak them in water overnight, with about 3 times as much water to seed ratio. You want the seeds to be submerged and have space to expand overnight.
The following morning add the cheese cloth over the rim of the mason jar, secure with an elastic band. Swirl then drain the water from the jar. Rinse the seeds with water and drain it again.
With the cheese cloth secured by the elastic band on the mouth of the jar, gently flip the jar and place it in a bowl, allowing it to lean on one side of the bowl. This will allow the remaining water to release into the bowl so the seeds can remain moist but still have access to air so they can begin to sprout.
Each evening and morning rinse the seeds/sprouts with filtered water, swirl them around, drain the water into a sink and return the mason jar to the bowl, upside down so the sprouts are able to drain until they are rinsed again the following evening or morning.
Continue this process for 3-4 days until you are happy with your sprouts.
Keep the sprouts in a container in the fridge and add to your meals to boost the nutrient content. Enjoy!