Sometimes solid truths have a way of escaping us: diet has the greatest external effect on our gut health. Hearing that may make you wince, yet another gut health claim, perhaps this is the final sign for you to deep dive into the vast and varied collection of your gut bacteria – the microbiome.
The digestive system is complex, and there are many factors that can influence how you feel, from taking antibiotics to eating lots of fiber. Intestinal health, gut microbe balance, and gastric juices are a delicate system, and it’s important to take good care of it. For its effect on your mood, your cravings, your concentration, and your overall quality of life, perhaps this note will empower you to take charge by incorporating one simple gut-changing ingredient into your next meal: hemp seeds.
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor making them an amazing addition to about any dish! Noted in our previous blog, we discussed the benefits of adding in hemp hearts to your next meal for a substantial source of plant-based protein. This week we are discussing the crucial difference these powerhouse seeds have on your gut health!
Hemp Heart & Gut Health:
The microbiome plays a number of key roles for us, it is known as the host, and thus it’s important to keep it “happy”: it’s responsible for immune system maturation, digestion, detoxification, drug metabolism, and the production of vitamins.
It is the fiber content of hemp which makes it so good for your digestive health. Plant-based, fiber-rich foods promote the production of SCFAs as they ferment in the colon, which is linked to better digestive health.
Whole hemp seeds are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, containing 20% and 80%. The FDA states that most Americans are not getting the recommended 25 mg of dietary fiber per day, which increases our risk factors for an array of problems, from bowel irregularity to more drastic measures of heart disease. The insoluble fiber in whole hemp seeds helps form bulk and keep things moving, if you know what I mean, while soluble fiber can help lower your low-density lipids (LDL or “bad cholesterol”).
Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in your gut. It’s a valuable source of nutrients for beneficial digestive bacteria and may also reduce spikes in blood sugar and regulate cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. This slows digestion and helps soften stools so it can slide through the GI tract more easily. It also binds to substances like cholesterol and sugar, preventing or slowing their absorption into the blood. That is why it’s known to help regulate blood sugar levels and protect against heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol. Soluble fiber boosts the population of good bacteria in the gut, which is linked to improved immunity, anti-inflammatory effects, and even enhanced mood. But that’s not all: soluble fiber also has middle-whittling benefits. For starters, it makes you feel full for longer, which helps with weight management. One study showed that for each additional 10 grams of daily soluble fiber eaten, participants had a 4% decrease in belly fat.
On the other end, insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and may help food and waste pass through your gut with ease. It’s the tough matter found in whole grains, nuts, and fruits and veggies that don’t dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber isn’t broken down by the gut and absorbed into the bloodstream. It adds bulk to waste in the digestive system, which helps keep you regular and prevents constipation (as well as any related problems, like hemorrhoids).
In addition to being a quality source of fiber, hemp hearts are one of the few plant-based sources of omega-3s and a rarer form of omega-6 called gamma-linoleic acid.
These fatty acids are an important nutritional and energy source for the body. Notably present within a serving of hemp hearts, both fatty acids have their unique role in the regulation of gut inflammation, and heart health!
A serving of these powerhouse seeds can provide your body with a substantial amount of plant-based proteins (almost as much as soy!), magnesium, vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, and an abundant amount of other nutrients that promote overall health.
CBD & Gut Health:
Let’s not forget the role of stress and anxiety when it comes to digestion! Most of us know that stress exacerbates our gut, and managing stress is crucial to keeping symptoms at bay. CBD has been shown to promote stress resilience and decrease anxiety, adding to its powerful role in gut function. As we explore the gut-health benefits of CBD and your endocannabinoid in part two of this article next week, you will gain an even better understanding on how you can utilize this plant as a whole to take your health, vitality, and digestion into your own hands!
Incorporating Hemp Hearts in Day-to-Day Cooking:
Hemp seeds are easy to incorporate into your diet. You can sprinkle them onto a salad, add them to yogurt or oatmeal, or even add them into your baking goods for a nutty finish. They have a fairly mild flavor, that also provides a satisfying texture. For example, highlighted in the recipe below, hemp hearts provide these berry delicious muffins with a substantial source of both plant-based protein and gut-healing fiber!
1/2 cup dairy-free butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups monk fruit or stevia
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
Zest from one small lemon
1 3/4 cups gluten-free flour blend
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
1/2 cup dairy-free milk
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen berries
1/2 cup Cured CBD Infused Hemp Hearts (stay tuned for this delicious release)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a muffin tin with paper; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the dairy-free butter and monk fruit with an electric mixer.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add vanilla and lemon zest and mix until combined.
- In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Add to the wet mixture, alternately with the dairy-free milk.
- Fold in berries.
- Fill each paper liner about 2/3rds full.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center is set.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in a container for up to 4 days at room temperature.