Here’s how I’ve been starting my mornings recently – with this ultimate gut health smoothie.
I first made something similar to this back in 2015 when I was experimenting heavily with all things gut-related. I read about this gut smoothie on the Chuckling Goat website and I’ve adapted it to suit my tastes and health goals.
The ingredients that go into the smoothie include probiotics, prebiotics (fibre), healthy fats, protein, fruit and greens.
***If you just want the recipe you can scroll down to the bottom of the post, otherwise, read on for an explanation of the ingredients I use and why!
STEP 1 – PROBIOTICS
For probiotics I add raw (unpasteurized) kefir which I buy from a local biodynamic farm – Plawhatch Farm. Kefir is an ancient, cultured food containing lactobacillus and beneficial yeast, amino acids, enzymes, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2 and B vitamins.
Clinical studies have associated kefir with many beneficial effects including immune enhancement properties. The probiotic bacteria in kefir help convert the tryptophan in milk to serotonin.
Most supermarkets now stock kefir, and you can buy goats milk kefir online from Chuckling Goat. https://www.chucklinggoat.co.uk/
If you are dairy-free you could use CoYo Coconut Milk Kefir or Biomel Love Your Gut Natural Coconut Dairy-Free Probiotic Drink.
STEP 2 – PREBIOTICS
Another important step towards good gut health is ensuring that you feed the beneficial bacteria with prebiotics. Prebiotics are special fibres found in complex plants and roots that feed beneficial strains of bacteria, helping them to grow and crowd out pathogenic bacteria.
There are a couple of different options I would recommend for prebiotics.
- Chuckling Goat Complete Prebiotic – designed in collaboration with the microbiome scientists at Atlas Biomed, the COMPLETE PREBIOTIC contains more different requisite strains of gut-friendly fibre than any other prebiotic on the market. The daily dose of 2 teaspoons provides 30% of your recommended daily fibre intake. This all-natural product contains every naturally available source of all the fibres your gut bugs need. https://www.chucklinggoat.co.uk/product/complete-prebiotic/
- Inspiriko Love Thy Gut Organic Prebiotic Fibre which contains baobab, flaxseed, maca, inulin, acai berry, goji berry, blueberry and aronia berry.
- Biomel Prebiotic Fibre+ contains a blend of prebiotic fibres, digestive enzymes and vitamins and minerals. They also have a low-FODMAP fibre which would be an excellent choice for anyone following the low-FODMAP diet or who finds prebiotic fibre too ‘strong’ for them.
I also add 1 sachet of Bimuno® prebiotic to my smoothie. I recommend Bimuno® as a quality prebiotic supplement that is well tolerated by most people. Bimuno® is backed by a substantial programme of scientific research conducted in collaboration with the University of reading, UK. It is clinically proven to provide a wide range of health benefits.
Bimuno® works by selectively increasing the level of bifidobacteria and other health-promoting bacteria found in the gut microbiome. Bimuno® has multiple activities including:
- A proven prebiotic function that increases gut bifidobacteria in just 7 days to aid microbial balance in the gut and thereby improves colonization resistance.
- An anti-invasive function that protects the small intestine against bacterial pathogens such as Salmonella.
- Interactions with the immune system that enhances the gut barrier function and triggers positive systemic effects throughout the human body.
Bimuno® is not suitable if you are intolerant to dairy. Bimuno® Daily powder is not suitable for vegans as it contains lactose and residual amounts of milk protein (Whey and Casein).
You can purchase Bimuno® on Amazon.
You need to start slowly with prebiotics. This is fibre, and if you are not used to consuming much fibre you could experience digestive distress (gas, bloating, upset stomach etc.) if you start adding too much too quickly!
I would recommend starting with half a teaspoon of the prebiotic fibre, and increasing by half a teaspoon every few days until you are adding the recommended dose on the packet.
STEP 3 – HEALTHY FATS
I add healthy fats to my smoothie in the form of High-Polyphenol Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, MCT Oil and/or Coconut Oil. Each oil has its own unique benefits (I don’t add them all to every smoothie). Adding any of the first three oils also makes the smoothie emulsify so it is very smooth and creamy.
HIGH-POLYPHENOL EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), a major source of fat in the Mediterranean diet, possesses a variety of components, including monounsaturated fatty acids and bioactive phenolic compounds that, individually and collectively, exert beneficial effects on cardiometabolic markers of health and act as neuroprotective agents through their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities.
Extra-virgin olive oil and its phenolic compounds are promising for prevention and treatment of certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer disease. A recent clinical trial tested the effectiveness of high-polyphenol EVOO in those affected with mild cognitive impairment and found that those receiving the highest polyphenol oil showed significant improvement in multiple cognitive domains.
Accumulating evidence supports the notion that consumption of an EVOO-rich diet can also promote favourable outcomes on gut microbiota, supporting the health of the intestinal environment.
Extra-virgin olive oil affects the gut microbiota by reducing the abundance of pathogenic bacteria, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria, and increasing the production of microbially produced short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which exert a wide range of anti-inflammatory effects and can modulate the expression of a variety of genes via epigenetic mechanisms.
Source: Extra-virgin olive oil and the gut-brain axis: influence on gut microbiota, mucosal immunity, and cardiometabolic and cognitive health
The highest polyphenol count I have found is in November Organic Olive Oil. By harvesting the olives earlier they produce a limited quantity of oil as less juice is extracted compared to fully ripened olives, however, this ensures significantly higher polyphenols than other olive oils (November Polyphenols stand above 890mg/kg).
You could also add Avocado Oil instead of the olive oil. I like Hunter & Gather Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Avocado Oil. Avocado oil is packed with carotenoids – Such as Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are known for their antioxidant activity, helping to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. The oleic acid present in avocado oil also helps to absorb the carotenoids it contains.
Dr Mark Hyman calls MCT oil “the secret fat that makes you thin”. So what is MCT oil and how is it different from coconut oil?
Coconut oil is mainly made up of the following 4 fats:
- C6 – Caproic Acid – 6 carbon atoms in the chain
- C8 – Caprylic Acid – 8 carbon atoms in the chain
- C10 – Capric Acid – 10 carbon atoms in the chain
- C12 – Lauric Acid – 12 carbon atoms in the chain
These fats are known as Medium Chain Triglycerides or MCTs due to their medium chain length (the number of carbon atoms in the chain).
The unique property of MCTs is that they do not need to be metabolized by the liver.
- C8 (caprylic acid) provides the fastest rise in energy and focus. Your liver does not need to process C8 MCT oil, and it only takes 3 steps for your body to turn it into ATP, the cellular fuel you use.
- C10 (capric acid) doesn’t break down into ketones as quickly as pure C8, but C10 is more affordable and still works.
Coconut oil also contains some stearic acid (C18:0), oleic acid (C18:1), and linoleic acid (C18:2).
Benefits of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
- Easier to digest
- Not readily stored as fat
- Are anti-microbial and anti-fungal
- Smaller in size, allowing easier cell permeability for immediate energy
- Immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as fat
The promised benefits of C8 products are many. They include increased blood ketone levels and associated reduction in blood glucose levels, increased energy, reduced body-fat, antimicrobial activity and even reduced risk of certain metabolic diseases.
My top choice and the brand I personally use is KetoSource Pure C8 MCT Oil – this product is 99% C8 which is the most beneficial MCT for brain function. I like this product because the company is based in the UK and that always influences my buying decisions. They also have excellent product transparency.
Coconut oil has benefits beyond those that come from the MCT fats so it is a great addition to your diet and MCT oil should not replace the use of coconut oil.
You also cannot cook with MCT oil as it is not heat stable, whereas coconut oil is an excellent cooking fat.
My favourite Coconut Oil is RealFoodSource Certified Organic Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Coconut Oil.
STEP 4 – PROTEIN
Next I add 1 tablespoon of Edible Health Collagen Powder. Collagen is an easily digested form of protein that improves skin, hair and nails.
Starting at about age 35, collagen production naturally begins to slow, which can have all sorts of negative effects on your body. By age 40, collagen begins to deplete faster than your body can reproduce it, and by age 60, over ½ of your body’s collagen has been depleted.
Collagen can improve gut integrity and digestive strength by enhancing gastric acid secretion and restoring a healthy mucosal lining in the stomach. It is flavourless and dissolves easily.
STEP 5 – FRUIT & GREENS
For sweetness I add ¼ of a banana. I also add a handful of blueberries (you could switch out for raspberries or strawberries depending on the season). I also add a handful of leafy greens. I rotate between Cavolo Nero, spinach and watercress, and if I’ve been out foraging I might add some wild greens instead such as dock leaves or ground ivy.
Berries have been demonstrated to alleviate symptoms of gut inflammation through the modulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines and have chemopreventive effects towards gut cancer through the regulation of apoptosis, cell proliferation and angiogenesis.
Source: Berry polyphenols metabolism and impact on human gut microbiota and health.
Sometimes instead of blueberries and greens I add 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder. Cacao is also high in fibre and polyphenols. Researchers from the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Reading in the U.K. found that cacao can promote friendly bacteria and reduce inflammation in the gut.
It has the added benefit of making the smoothie delicious and chocolaty – great if I am having my smoothie after lunch instead of in the morning!
ULTIMATE GUT HEALTH SMOOTHIE RECIPE
- 200ml Kefir (dairy or coconut)
- ½ teaspoon working up to 1 tablespoon Prebiotic Powder
- 1 sachet Bimuno
- 1 tbsp. High-Polyphenol Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoon working up to 1 tbsp. MCT Oil
- 1 tablespoon Collagen Powder
- ¼ banana (optional – this is just for a little sweetness)
- 1 handful blueberries (or other berries) – can be fresh or frozen
- 1 handful leafy greens
Place all the ingredients into a blender such as a Nutribullet and blend very thoroughly.
After drinking this smoothie daily for a couple of weeks you may notice the following benefits:
- Improvement to your nails, skin and hair (from the collagen, and also from improved elimination)
- Better digestion
- More regular bowel movements (normal is 1 – 3 per day)
- More energy (this smoothie helps to stabilize your blood sugar)
- Less cravings (blood sugar is balanced, protein, fibre and healthy fats keep you full up and lessen cravings)
- Better sleep – both the Bimuno prebiotic and collagen have been associated with improvements in sleep.
RESTORE YOUR GUT
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I’m a Nutrition & Health Coach. My aim is to inspire and support women to lose weight, fix their digestion and regain their energy. If you are fed up with being overweight, addicted to sugar or feeling tired ALL THE TIME, get in touch, I’d love to help! I offer one-to-one coaching sessions at £40 per hour, or my 90 Day Total Health Transformation.
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