Gloriously Good Grounding Potatoes
Potatoes represent the epitome of a grounding vegetable; often purchased in shops with the remainders of the course earthly goodness on their outer skin. Some like then sweet, some like them red and some like them white - what's certain is there a variety for every mood, every occasion and every person. Whats wonderful is that they offer many great benefits for your microbiome!
There is a whole lot more that you can do with a potato beyond it being made into fries and I appreciate it is traditionally thought of as a winter vegetable but there are so many ways to enjoy them in the summer. Baked in tin foil on a barbecue and boiled and tossed into a summer salad and given their nutritional content, it would be crazy to miss out on this healthy carbohydrate source. Don't allow carbohydrate shunning to prevent you from missing out on this wonderful macronutrient - they have their place in your diet for both your gut health and as a source of energy for your brain. Just make sure it is a healthy choices, is a suitable portion size and consumed at the correct time.
Research into potatoes and their impact on gut health
Potatoes are a wholesome and unprocessed carbohydrate source and they have been researched to have a specific impact on your microbiome. They are a resistant starch which means that they cannot be digested by amylase, which is used to break down carbohydrates. Therefore they are not fully broken down in your stomach and small intestine and they pass onto the large intestine where they are able to be fermented.
They are a source of fibre, which is very important for your gut health, feeding the mucus layer in your large intestine, adding hydration to your gut (all fruits and vegetables have different varieties of naturally occurring water) and they help to move food along your gut, aiding peristalsis. Fibre also helps to bulk out your meals, keeping you fuller for longer and they generally add great flavour, a little crunch, some welcomed colour to your plate and variety to your palate.
Resistant starches are a good source of pre-biotic foods, which feed the good bacteria in your gut. They increase the growth of short chain fatty acids, which helps you to feel more satisfied. Remembering that the more good bacteria you have in your gut the more these will flourish, grow and multiply, there is a symbiotic teamwork which occurs between the bacteria in the gut and the more good bacteria you have the better.
For those who eat red meat - resistant starch counterbalances the impact of red meat on your gut health by reducing the pro-mutagenic products caused by red meat fermentation in the bowel.
Some other sources of resistant starches include: green bananas, peas, cooked legumes & cooked and cooled rice and potatoes.
Baxter NT, Schmidt AW, Venkataraman A, et al. Dynamics of human gut microbiota and short-chain fatty acids in response to dietary interventions with three fermentable fibers. mBio. 2019; 10(1):e02566-18. doi: 10.1128/mBio.02566-18.
Green with envy potato salad recipe
Think soft melt in the mouth white potato and crunchy leafy greens with zucchini.
Ingredients: white potato, red onion, zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds, lettuce, freshly chopped dill, olive oil and nutritional yeast.
Grounding is something that you may or may not be familiar with; it's an intentional process which helps us to familiarise, and embed ourselves with our environment and to calm our central nervous system when we have been swept up in the activities of the day. I was inspired to focus on grounding in this issues following my recent travels, a move of home and when I found myself on occasion being swept away with the hustle and bustle of life. And as the school holidays begin and the summer is well and truly in full swing many of you are likely to be travelling to lands far and near for a summer jaunt of some variety.
I consider grounding to be directly connected to gut health. When we experience unsettle or change in our environment, our foundations, our gut health becomes disrupted and can go out of kilter. Further to this there is the direct connection between your brain and your gut through the gut brain axis; the vegus nerve. Grounding is a practice, something that we can do to familiarise, connect and establish ourselves with and within our environments. Some things we may do consciously and others unconsciously. Think about it - when you go on holiday to a new place one of the first things you do is take a walk around the locality and familiarise yourself with the local shops and modes of transport. This is a basic primal animal instinct, one which our chimpanzee primates do. It provides us with a sense of safety, of knowing what is or is not nearby. Have you ever noted the unfamiliarity or strange sense of unease when you arrive to a new destination at night time and you are only to experience the outside of your hotel upon waking the the next morning?
If we look to the chakra system, our energy system, the root chakra - basic trust, which forms the base of the seven chakras and is also linked to elimination. It is the foundation of all the other energy systems, such as wisdom, love and spirituality. Notice how your gut health seems to grind to a halt when you travel, sometimes taking 1-2 days to re-establish regularity? Often connected to when you have familiarised yourself with your new found space, routine and people around you? (I will cover the impact of travelling and provide some travel gut health tips in a later edition). I consider there to be a natural process of adjustment which we should honour to establish ourselves in the new space, to root, to ground. We can take ownership of this process, perhaps speeding it up a little, to establish or re-establish our connection with our environment.
Grounding practice tips:
What can you do to make and maintain a connection with your environment?
Where can you go to fully embrace the nature of your local land? To feel the grass between your toes, the rock firm under foot and the water all over you body.
Deepak Chopra (1999) writes on the importance of engaging in Prana sources: "The vapour that rises from the oceans to form the rain, the rain that falls to Earth to moisten the soil, and the sun that draws fort the crops are a single holistic system. By putting yourself in direct contact with the elements of this system...can enlarge the presence of the life force throughout your being. You can strengthen the Prana in your body and magnify the love in your soul".