Whenever possible it feels like the right thing to do to try and improve our health and wellbeing the natural way. So whenever a holistic remedy pops up that can really help us to promote that, why not jump on board? Simple, every day normalities and essential activities such as eating have the biggest impact on our daily lives when it comes to keeping healthy. Gut health is one of the primary sources of our overall wellness, both physically and mentally, and is absolutely something we should all be paying attention to and nurturing – and therefore understanding the workings of. Poor gut health not only contributes to poor physical health but it also affects our mood, stress levels and general mental wellbeing.
The reduction of inflammation also serves to maintain a healthy body and mind, and so if there are any simple yet effective ways to boost gut health whilst reducing inflammation, I am in!
And as the winter months continue to draw in, what better way to combat this than with a good, heart (and body) warming bowl of soup! Everybody loves soup, right? It is one of the best ways, dietarily speaking, to get a big dose of nutrients and is one of the most simple, and economical meals to cook. As well as this, you can put in all your favourite flavours and personalise your soup.
How to optimise your soups
Make your own stock
A good soup is all about the broth; a homemade veggie, meat or fish stock far outweighs any shop bought stock cube in the nutrition stakes so making your own is by far the best option. Keep any odds and ends when you’re using vegetables – even potato peel, carrot peel, pepper cores, celery leaves or hearts, any parts of the vegetable that you wouldn’t use in your meal* and throw it all in a big saucepan together with some seasoning cover in water and boil away until the vegetables are all softened. Drain and use that broth as your stock. If you have a chicken carcass left from a roast chicken for example, prawn heads, or any bones (the marrow is very good for you), add this to the mix if you’re a meat eater. You can add chilis for some spice, onion, garlic cloves, etc. all to add extra flavour to your stock. Bone broth is excellent for our gut health as it provides us with both collagen and amino acids which tame inflammation, heal the gut, boost antioxidants, and support joint health. If you are vegetarian or vegan it is still possible to achieve the same results by adding shiitake mushrooms, seaweed, turmeric, ginger, and, if you are willing, collagen powder.
*all scraps can be stored in the freezer to maintain their nutritional value until the time comes to make your broth.
Widen the range
Adding as many different types of vegetable to your soup will enhance the nutritional value. You can also use any odds and ends you may have left in the fridge and turn them into a wonderful, healthy meal rather than them shrivelling up and ending up in the bin.
Add some grains
Whole grains add protein, fibre, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals to the diet, so there’s no reason not to add some to the soup, or serve it with some whole grain bread or croutons.
Add some greens
Once the soup is almost ready to serve, allow a few minutes to add some greens…perhaps a handful of spinach, chopped chard leaves, seaweed, or any other vegetable leaf. Allow to wilt and the shade of green to intensify before serving. Seaweed has incredible benefits as well as aiding gut health and having anti-inflammatory properties, such as supporting heart health and thyroid function. Once your soup is prepared and ready to go why not throw a handful of a range of fresh herbs; coriander, mint, parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, anything which compliments your choice of flavours. I like to throw in a handful of sprouts too, alfalfa, mustard, beetroot, pea – they’re all superfoods to add that extra boost to the health of the gut.
Add some ‘good’ fat
As you serve your creation add a swirl of extra virgin olive oil, or your favourite plant oil, to get a good dose of healthy fat.
Add some ocean power
If you’re not a fan of using animal bones to make a broth but you are happy with seafood then you can always create a fish-based broth in order to reap many of the same benefits. Cram in some sea veggies and seaweed and you’ll be super-boosting that gut!
Add some ACV power
The all star of the briny kitchen staples, apple cider vinegar would be getting awards at so many health ceremonies for its endless positive health benefitting properties. But to keep in check with today’s topic it is absolutely beneficial to gut health, aids in digestion, helps to lower blood pressure, and contains plenty of antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, and helps to reduce bad bacteria. Add some ACV to your soup base to boost your benefits.
Spice up your life
Never underestimate the power of the spice! It plays a key role in helping to break down food our bodies can’t digest, in producing important nutrients and influencing the function of our immune system. Try adding some paprika, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom to your soups and feel the warmth and depth of the goodness.
One of the healthiest ways to get your daily minerals, vitamins, protein and fibre while supporting a healthy gut, reducing inflammation and feeling good both in body and mind; all hail the soup!
Online diploma courses in Nutrition
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences we offer 8 different Nutrition courses – all of which are accredited in 26 countries worldwide. Click on the title of the course for more information:
- Child & Adolescent Nutrition
- Ethical & Sustainable Eating
- Clinical Nutrition
- Advanced Nutrition
- Nutrition for Age 50 Plus
- Plant-Based Nutrition
- Sport & Exercise Nutrition
- Vegetarian & Vegan Nutrition
We have over 60 holistic health courses to choose from, so if Nutrition isn’t your thing, check out our A-Z course listing page.