The choice of food available in the capital these days is astonishing. You could argue that London is the food capital of the world.
So we’re more interested than ever in exciting dining experiences. But how well do we understand the power of food? And the incredible system in which it’s processed: the gut? For example, did you know that 90% of your serotonin—the neurotransmitter that helps you to feel happy—is produced in your gut? What we eat has a direct impact not just on our physical condition but on our mental well-being as well.
As barbers, we’re on our feet all day. Eating well means we have the energy to give our all from open until close. And we care about YOU guys too. Not just the hair on your head, but the whole you. That’s why in this post we’re looking inwards, to the key to health and happiness. We’ll also share a delicious chicken soup recipe from nutritional therapist Anoushka Davy to help you treat your body right.
The effect of the modern diet
The average modern diet is shocking. Packed with processed food, refined sugars and swilled down with gallons of caffeinated drinks. Our bodies are amazing, but they struggle to cope with the onslaught.
Conditions associated with an unhappy gut include insomnia, depression, and skin problems. Not to mention the daily travails of bloating, excessive wind, and unpleasant toilet visits.
It’s remarkable what people put up with. But there’s no need to live with an improperly functioning system. Like an iPhone with buggy apps, there comes a time when you need to reboot and get your system running properly again.
Sadly, your body is far more complicated than a smartphone. Restoring it to optimal condition takes time. A good place to start is with some insight into your innards.
Four reasons why gut health is critical to your overall health
Your first line of defence
Stomach acid is almost as strong as battery acid. It protects you from harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites. Its power was discovered after a man recovered from a gunshot wound but was left with a hole in his stomach. William Beaumont, a 19th Century doctor, dangled bits of food into the hole to see how quickly they digested. Tasty.
Home to trillions of good bacteria
There are ten times more bacteria in your body than there are cells. These bacteria can either be supporting your system or attacking it. If the gut ‘flora’ is in good condition, your immune response will be strong. This means you’re less likely to get sick.
As Anoushka puts it:
‘Think of your gut like a car park. The more parking spaces that are taken up by good bacteria, the less opportunity there is for bad bacteria to turn up and spoil the party.’
Helps you get the most from your food
Food contains the nutrients your body needs to operate. A healthy gut extracts the most amount of usable materials from every meal. Then, crucially, it disposes of the waste products quickly and efficiently. If you’re reading a novel every time you visit the throne room, you’ve got a problem.
Your second brain
Your gut plays a vital role in your mood. The enteric nervous systems contains around 500 million neurons and communicates directly with your central nervous system. As we mentioned at the top of this post, the vast majority of seratonin, the chemical that regulates your emotional state, is found in your digestive system.
So, how can we look after this vital set-up? This chicken soup recipe is just the job. Big thanks to Anoushka for the recipe and for sharing her knowledge that made this post possible.
Healing Chicken Soup
‘This is medicine in a bowl. I make it whenever I feel run down, after travelling or when I have a busy week and I know I’ll need quick bowls of goodness throughout the week.
It’s a great option if you want to support your immune system during the cold season or support your digestive system after a tummy bug. It’s really soothing and has a delicious sweetness because of the carrots and squash. It’s packed full of gut healing amino acids and collagen, as well as an array of potent antioxidants from the herbs and vegetables.’
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 30 mins
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 stick celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- ¼ winter/butternut squash, chopped (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp thyme
- 2 raw organic chicken thighs/ chicken torn off a leftover roast chicken
- 500ml chicken stock
- 500ml water
- 1tsp salt (good quality rock salt or sea salt)
- Handful fresh parsley
- Black pepper
- Olive oil/ ghee/ coconut oil
- Sauté the onions with a pinch of salt in two tablespoons of olive oil/ghee/coconut oil until translucent.
- Add carrots, celery, squash, garlic and cook for three minutes, stirring frequently so garlic doesn’t burn.
- Add chicken stock, one teaspoon salt, a grind of black pepper, turmeric, thyme, chicken (raw thighs or leftover roast chicken), 500ml of hot water and bring to the boil, then cook for 15 minutes on a medium heat until veg is soft but not mushy and chicken (if using raw) is cooked. If using chicken thighs, remove them from the pot at this point and place on a chopping board, cutting the chicken off the bone using a knife and fork, then transfer back into the pot before serving.
- Ladle into bowls and serve with another grind of black pepper and a generous sprinkling of fresh parsley.
- Will keep in fridge for up to a week. Freezes well.
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