Chia seeds (salvia hispanica) have become one of the most popular superfoods in the fitness and health community. They’re easy to digest when prepared properly and a very versatile ingredient that can be easily used in recipes. The benefits of chia seeds are indeed plentiful.
History of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds were originally a best kept secret but has gained popularity in recent years. These tiny black and white seeds have a long history. They were grown in Mexico and South America, chia seeds are said to have been used by Mayan and Aztec cultures for supernatural powers. Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language. They were also known as the “Indian Running Food” because runners and warriors would use them for sustenance while running long distances or during battle.
Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, antioxidants, and calcium. Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds.
They give you tons of energy but also won’t keep you awake at night and are supposed to be great for weight loss. This is apparently due to the fact that they can absorb many times their size/weight in liquid. Chia seeds are also excellent for avoiding dehydration during exercise or exposure to heat.
But Wait, There’s A Down Side
Chia seeds contain compounds called phytates that block the absorption of certain nutrients. These anti-nutrients are the reason that many ancient cultures soaked and fermented grains and seeds prior to eating them. There is also some evidence that soaking and rinsing the seeds may help reduce the levels of these compounds. The good news is that when used in moderation there isn’t a need to worry too much about their phytate content.
Uses For Chia Seeds
Depending on the required texture, there are several ways to use them in the kitchen :-
Thicken gravies and sauces
Homemade energy gel
Bread chicken or fish
Grain free crackers
My Fav Chia Seed Recipes
These are just a few of my fav chia seeds recipes, but pop over to my Instagram account to see why my cupboard is always stocked with Chia Seeds
One of the trending topics in terms of health and wellness at the moment is “Gut Health” but what exactly does this mean. Well basically it’s the balance of good and bad bacteria living in the digestive tract.
To find this achievable state you need to feed your good bacteria and starve the less desirable bacteria. In other words you would need to swap processed foods, breads and pastas for more plants, fruit, seeds and nuts. You would also have to add fermented foods like yoghurt, kombucha, kimchi and kefir to your diet. These items naturally contain probiotics and/or healthy bacteria.
There are 100 trillion bacteria in your body, and most of them are in your intestines. What you eat determines what kind of bacteria enters your gut, this is why its crucial to realize that what you put in there has long-term effects. According to Nava, a Health and Vitality Center, the stomach is like a second brain which can affect your mood, energy levels, libido, creative output and etc. – The Huffington Post
Possible Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
Digestive issues like bloating, diarrhoea & gas
Food allergies or sensitivities
Mood swings, irritability
Poor memory and concentration, ADD or ADHD
Skin problems like eczema
What to Eat to Improve Your Gut Health
Apple Cider Vinegar – helps your body create hydrochloric acid, which is a beneficial belly acid that helps digest fats, carbohydrates, and protein.
Kombucha – the most natural way to get a buzz, it’s probiotic-packed meaning it’s good for your gut.
Dairy or Lactose-free yoghurts– made from almond, soy, or rice milk are much easier for people to digest than their dairy counterparts.
Fermented Coffee – Drinking coffee can improve athletic performance, particularly for endurance sports so you should drink it before your workouts for energy.
Sauerkraut – is a naturally fermented food that has micro-organisms which crowds out bad bacteria in the gut and allows the beneficial gut flora to flourish.
Mangos – have been shown to help keep the good bacteria in your gut alive.
Kefir – is great for your gut as it usually contains at least 10 live and active strains of bacteria, compared to most yoghurts which usually have three.
Sprouted Grains – The process involved in making sprouted grain bread products makes it easier for some people to digest rather than other traditional wheat products, which in turn makes it easier for nutrients to be absorbed into the body
Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid that is an antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-fungal.
Wild Salmon – has an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and is critical for healing an inflamed gut and preventing future episodes.
Garlic – is a wonderful prebiotic and even better when eaten raw.
Miso – aside from being a good source of protein and fibre, it’s rich in probiotics meaning it can help treat intestinal disorders.
Chocolate -raw and certified organic, prebiotic and probiotic enhanced chocolate bars the most delicious way to get your prebiotic and probiotic fix.
Collagen – is one of the largest proteins in our bodies—in fact, it’s what basically keeps our body together.
Bone broth – is a stock made from the bones and marrow of a chicken or cow and it’s slow cooked for 24-72 hours.
Onions – as well as Jerusalem artichokes and chicory are high in prebiotics, which will help promote the growth of good bacteria. To make the most of these nutrient-rich foods you’ll want to avoid as many refined foods (think white flour and white sugar-based anything), which feed the bacteria in our gut that we don’t want.
Kvass – beverage commonly made from rye bread, meaning it’s filled with digestive health benefits.
High Fibre Foods – like artichokes, green peas, lentils, black and lima beans, almonds raspberries, and apples are a great addition to your diet.
Kimchi – is rich in probiotics and excellent at keeping things moving in your digestive tract.
Yoghurt– Grass-fed, full-fat and plain (no sugar added) yoghurt has a very high amount of beneficial probiotics.
Improved Gut Health Can Aid:
Immune function (80% of our immune system is located in the gut!)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Symptoms of anger, sadness and depression
Toxin levels in the body
In the past I never gave my gut a second thought, but with time and research I’ve come to learn otherwise. It is important for us to acknowledge and understand the effects of gut health on our bodies both mentally and physically, in doing so we will need to optimise our gut health in more innovative ways.