A homemade “gut-supportive” treat of yummy watermelon lemonade gut gummies. Basically, a homemade gummy candy that's good for you! Real food, paleo, kid-friendly.
I have been immersed, deeply, in gut health classes over the past year. The more I learn, the clearer it is that the seat of our soul in regards to health and wellness resides in our gut.
Hippocrates said over 2,000 years ago that all disease begins in the gut. As long as Hippocrates doesn't mind I'd like to add to that, not only does disease begin in the gut but true health also begins in the gut. When gut health is compromised we are at risk for a wide range of illness including diabetes, obesity, autoimmune conditions, depression, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Over 80% of the immune system resides in our gut and the gut produces 75% of our neurotransmitters! Essentially, if you want to feel better you have to take care of your gut.
There are two main variables that determine gut health: the gut flora, also called microbiota, and the gut barrier.
Gut Flora – The good little bugs in our body
We are made up of over 100 trillion microorganisms, or bacteria, which reside in our gut. That's 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body. Essentially we are more bacteria than we are cells, more bacteria than human! Having plentiful and diverse gut flora promotes healthy gastrointestinal function, keeps us protected from infection and illness, helps to regulate metabolism, and recent research has even shown that a healthy microbiome can reduce anxiety!
Sadly, most of us are suffering from less than ideal gut flora due to
- Antibiotic use
- Overuse of NSAIDs
- Chronic infections
- Eating the SAD (Standard American Diet), high refined carbohydrates, processed foods, and sugar
- Eating a diet that has poor variety
- and more…
Take care of those bugs!
How can we do a better job of taking care of our little bugs? Well, this can be a complicated answer and may be quite involved depending on what condition we are hoping to improve, but some general care tips are:
- Take a probiotic, probiotics help to replenish the good bacteria that we lose from modern day living
- Eat prebiotic foods, like beans and legumes. Pro tip- green tea has prebiotic like properties too! Add a cup of green tea to your diet every day. Prebiotics help to feed the surviving bugs, this is a good thing.
- Eat a varied diet, do you buy the same veggies every week? Are broccoli and string beans always in your grocery cart? Mix it up! A diverse diet = a diverse microbiome.
- Eat fermented foods, like kimchi and sauerkraut.
- Reduce stress
Gut Barrier: The bouncer at club “gut”, decides what gets into the club and what gets kicked to the curb
Your gut has something called an intestinal barrier, which is essentially like a fine mesh sieve. When the barrier becomes permeable, i.e. the little holes that are naturally part of the intestinal barrier become bigger and bigger, larger molecules are able to pass in and out of the gut and into the bloodstream where they don't belong. This is referred to as “leaky gut syndrome” and I've seen quite a lot of leaky guts in my practice 🙂
Problems arise when these protein molecules that belong inside the gut escape into the bloodstream, the body mounts an immune response and attacks them. Studies have suggested that intestinal permeability plays a role in the development of autoimmune diseases and in fact mucosal biologist, Alessio Fasano, believes that leaky gut is a precondition to developing autoimmunity.
How Can I Improve My Gut Health?
Again this can be a complicated answer depending on the individual and the severity of the gut disorder, but there are still some general things we can do to improve overall gut health.
Follow the tips above in regards to nourishing your gut flora in addition:
- Reduce inflammation in the body, by eating anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and ginger
- Eat a varied diet (I know I already mentioned this but it deserves repeating!) Diverse diet = diverse microbiota!
- Include gut supportive foods like gelatin
Yes, here is where we finally get to the good stuff! A candy recipe for gut health 🙂 Gelatin, that stuff that makes jello and other foods super jiggly, is really good for the gut!
Health Benefits of Gelatin
- Gelatin contains 18 amino acids, including indispensable (previously referred to as essential) amino acids meaning they must be acquired by the diet.
- Gelatin has been touted as a supportive food for healing the gut lining. Gelatin can enhance gastric acid secretion and aid in restoring a healthy mucosal lining. Basically gelatin can help the bouncer at club “gut” do a much better job and keep the riff-raff out!
- Plus a recent study has shown that ingestion of gelatin can reduce cellulite and improve wrinkles.
- Gelatin is supportive for digestion.
- Gelatin helps build lean muscles. Collagen is found in skin, tendons, bones, ligaments and muscle tissue all crucial to the body's muscular structure.
- And finally (there are lots more reasons but I'm going to cut it off here) gelatin has been found to reduce joint pain in athletes.
How the heck do I eat gelatin?
Well, you could very easily add a bit to your smoothies (1 tsp will do the trick) or even add it to soups and stews to help thicken. My favorite way to eat gelatin is by making little healthy gummies that taste amazing and help support gut health. Win Win!
This is the simplest recipe and kids LOVE them! Adults do too, I recently brought a big batch to a gut wellness seminar I taught for over 200 corporate employees and they gobbled them up!
Gummies bring out the best in all of us 🙂
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This recipe is for watermelon lemonade gut gummies, but I've made them in a variety of flavors. My nephew requested plain lemon, delicious. We also juiced a big batch of concord grapes from my CSA and made grape gut gummies, delicious!
It's important to purchase the right type of gelatin with abundant nutrients and amino acids.
You can find my favorite brand on amazon.
The formula is pretty simple, use 1/4 cup of gelatin to 3 cups of liquid and add sweetener. I used freshly blended watermelon and fresh lemon juice.
I bought little candy trays to make heart and star shapes, but you can absolutely just pour into a pyrex and cut into squares.
These little hybrid candy/vitamins are super yummy and so fantastic to pop into your kids (or your own) lunch box! I recommend about 4-5 per day for improved gut function.
Thanks for reading Abra's Kitchen! To see what goodness I'm whipping up be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. If you make this recipe tag #abraskitchen on Instagram so I can see your creation 🙂
Watermelon Lemonade Gut Gummies
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat combine watermelon juice, lemon juice, and honey. Whisk until well combined. Slowly whisk in gelatin and whisk until completely dissolved and slightly thickened. This should take a few minutes. Alternatively, if your gelatin isn't dissolving as you'd like, place in blender and whirl away.
- Pour into candy molds or in a shallow baking dish. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
- For a vegetarian version, you can try using agar-agar powder but note agar-agar does not have the same gut healing benefits. The ratio is 1 tsp. agar-agar to 1 cup liquid, but I have not tested this so if you do let me know how it turns out!
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