How’s your gut?

2016-03-13 15.14.43I spent Saturday with Master Gardeners from all over the state of New Hampshire at our Spring Symposium.

There were sessions that included an update on an amazing community gardening project for refugees in Concord, advice for taking time to smell the roses in our gardens, the beginning of our fascination with English gardens, a holistic approach to growing apples, and how important it is to eat vegetables and fruit grown in healthy soil.

Each session was informative and entertaining, but the positive effects of gardening in healthy soil was the topic that captured everyone’s attention and kept them talking during breaks and in cars on the way home.

The importance of healthy microbes in the soil and how it directly affects the humans who consume the plants grown in that soil should be high on our list of gardening factors.

Our gut is considered our second brain and is linked to the brain in our head by the vagus nerve. It made me think of the old computer saying – garbage in, garbage out.

I could go on and on but some may be interested while others are not. So, I’ll just say if you’re one who is concerned about Monsanto, GMO’s or non-organic foods, then google microbiomes and gut health. Interesting and scary stuff.

Suggestions made to protect your health include:

  • spend quality time outside in nature
  • research and invest in a healthy diet, buy organic when possible
  • eat plenty of fiber
  • eat fermented foods like freshly made sauerkraut
  • avoid taking antibiotics if possible

The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension offers soil testing services, and I’m thinking they’re probably going to do a land office business this year.

Are you concerned about the health of your garden soil? When you buy local fertilizer do you check to see if the animals are routinely given antibiotics? Do you buy organic products when possible? Is your gut doing okay or could it use some healthier options? Or is this a topic that you aren’t concerned about? 🙂

About Judy@NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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56 Responses to How’s your gut?

  1. joey says:

    I am concerned and attentive. I drink kefir and take probiotics. I find it’s hard to grow and gather enough of the perfect organics, but I always try anyway. Since we compost, organic is REALLY important.
    I was thinking about this last night, actually. I had worked in the garden, getting my layer of vegetable-dyed newspaper into the beds. When I took off my gloves, I noticed a hangnail, and you know what I did — I bit it off, and had a bit of soil along with it. Of course, being an anxious person, I first thought of worms, but then realized, that soil likely did me good 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dan Antion says:

    Unfortunately, we don’t have a world of choices when it comes to these issues. We buy composted cow manure, which is mixed with leaves during the process. It’s about the only stuff I can buy, unless I want to rely on the big boxes. My wife found these folks through the farm she buys her dairy products from. I’m going to go with “whatever I eat from her garden is probably better than what I can buy at Stop & Shop.”

    In any case, it’s good to be thinking about gardens.

    Liked by 4 people

    • They brought up the topic of manure and in general the biggest issue from a local farm seemed to be weed seeds. The antibiotics came up from a person who had looked into buying horse manure from an equestrian farm where they used a lot of antibiotics. And, you are so right – anything grown at home or at a local farm is better. I don’t mean to be disgusting here, but all of that bacteria we hear about on veggies and fruit does not only come from tainted drainage water but also from the poor folks harvesting the crop who are not provided the proper restrooms and hand washing facilities. The next time they talk on the news about recalling spinach or whatever crop it is, stop and think about how it got infected. Not a pleasant topic but we’re just buying this stuff and putting it in our bodies and then running to the doctor to get antibiotics to feel better. Baby steps in the right direction are better than no steps. Garden on with your local manure and know you are making a difference in your health and those you love. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a very important topic and I’m interested in it. I appreciate that you’re providing suggestions for improvement without overwhelming us. It’s hard to process posts or articles that are so full of information that nothing sticks with me. I’ve been thinking about trying kombucha but I need to learn more. It sounds like it may have many positive effects.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Norm 2.0 says:

    Food for thought – no pun intended.
    We compost and grow our own veggies in the summer, but we need to ask more questions and do more research about the stuff we buy. I’m honestly not even sure I know what the labeling regulations are in terms of what is allowed to be called organic around here. so yeah, we should be doing more.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course, you knew I’d appreciate the pun. 🙂 You are lucky because CN is way more into good labeling practices. If we have a choice between a pre-packaged food product made in CN and one in the US, we normally choose CN because your labeling is much safer for a family that deals with food allergies.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. bikerchick57 says:

    I’ve learned much about gut health, probiotics and organic/clean eating…through a friend and a bit of reading. These days, I eat organic when possible, take a probiotic, drink kombucha and water kefir, and, yes, I go outside to play whenever possible! I can say that I honestly feel better, it’s as if I’ve been unclogged (think roto rooter). For those of your readers who don’t have a garden and want to buy organic, here’s a list of the fruits and vegetables to start with.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Laurie Graves says:

    I am concerned about soil health and gut health. I buy organic fertilizer for my gardens, and I also buy organic food when I can fit it into our budget.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One of our sons is very interested in permaculture and taking a second series of workshops in Portland Maine. This one requires him to prepare a plan as for a client’s property so luckily he chose us. I have composted for decades but yesterday after weeding around herbs and where I will put perennial vegetables I put down newspaper and compost on top of it at his suggestion, Weeding this early in the season is unusual for us so I am using it partly as mulch so I don’t have to weed again when it is planting time. I hope those things will be part of helping our guts. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cheryl Robertson says:

    I have lots of stomach issues so now you’ve got me wondering if maybe it’s something I’m eating or maybe not eating. Thank you for this post, I’ll definitely be doing more research on these issues. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I am so glad it was something that caught your interest. I eat plenty of fiber and greek yogurt, garden organically, but think I can still make a few more positive steps. The presenter, Laura Wolfer, has a blog, but it hasn’t been updated in quite a while. But, she has a Facebook page that looks current – CultivateYourNature. I’m not a huge Facebook fan, but one has to get information where they can. 🙂 If you googling all you can, try Leaky Gut Syndrome. This was explained as a result of your gut not being healthy.


  9. I make my own compost each year, from our left over food scraps….those which don’t go in the dogs!….leaves and plant trimmings. This gets folded into my raised beds each spring….very soon now…to feed the new crops. I grow as wide a range of vegetables and fruits as I can, along with plenty of herbs for cooking in flavour.
    I always love to see a healthy dose of earth worms in my veg beds…I feel it shows the soil is healthy💕😊💕

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Intereisting stuff. I definitely get lots of sun and skin-to-soil contact. Very fond of yogurt and kefir, though we don’t buy kefir too often.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. LOL so I was out, starving, decided to try Burger King’s new HOT DOGS, got one to go and decide to read a blog or two while wolfing it down. Well my GUT knows hot dogs are not good for me, ha ha ….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Eliza Waters says:

    Sounds like a great conference, Judy. Ever since I started taking probiotics a few years ago, my health has been outstanding. Lowering stress, exercising outdoors and eating well (organic where possible) is my recipe for a long and healthy life!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. pbmgarden says:

    What a great opportunity to get together for these discussions.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Alain says:

    This Spring Symposium seems to have been most interesting. I have read about the fact that some poorer soils might produce healthier vegetables (although rather strong tasting). I would have liked to hear the speaker about healthy microbes.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Interesting and informative post, Judy. I eat lots of fruits and veggies and refer to Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen for what to buy organic and what doesn’t matter. I don’t always follow it, but it’s a relief to know which foods don’t test high for pesticides. I also buy from the farmers markets when they’re in season. I buy organic, grass-fed ground beef from Aldi and organic eggs from Costco. Just bought an organic basil plant at Trader Joe’s yesterday when I needed basil, rather than just buying cut organic basil.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m headed to check out your reference. 🙂 We have a new market, Tender Crop, from MA that has grass fed animals on their farm, and their meat is exceptional. It is wonderful to be able to go there and feel comfortable buying ‘good’ meat. I worked for a pesticide detection company in the 1980’s. At that time, the apples and grapes were the nastiest and the advice was to never buy anything in a plastic bag with no holes because it trapped the pesticides on the fruit inside. 🙂


  16. Sounds like a fabulous session, with loads of information. The info on fermented foods is interesting. I’ll have to consider adding sauerkraut to my meals (which my hubby will hate… but he’ll live).

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Tina Schell says:

    Good advice Judy – getting lots of attention these days!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Nadezda says:

    I agree Judy, ‘avoid taking antibiotics’. I try always to avoid them, and eat more sauerkraut. I do love cook soup with sauerkraut!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Lorrie says:

    We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and organic yogurt. There’s a strong healthy food movement here on our island and many of the farms, although not certified organic, do not use pesticides. I think antibiotics for animals are more regulated here, too. I know that Canadian milk products are antibiotic free. If a cow needs antibiotics, she must be removed from the milking pool until her milk is clear. (My brother-in-law was a dairy farmer.) Gut health is important!

    Liked by 1 person

    • A few years ago, we visited the large dairy farm that purchased my grandparents’ farm. They had calves living in little igloos out in the yard instead of in the barn. When I inquired ‘why,’ he responded that if they were in the barn they would need antibiotics. I have always wondered why we now have farms that need a constant supply of antibiotics. CN does a better job at monitoring their food supply than we do. I wish the powers that be here would look north for encouragement rather than to Monsanto.


      • Lorrie says:

        There’s certainly room for improvement here, too. Roundup is used extensively on our major crops – wheat, oats, etc. and that really bothers me. I think that some of the European countries do much better at protecting their citizens. We in North America have become so used to cheap food that we don’t want to pay our farmers and growers what it really costs to grow food and thus, companies like Monsanto are welcome to provide dangerous shortcuts to production. But don’t get me started!

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Joyce says:

    Even though this intelligent discussion is way out of my league, I certainly see the wisdom in evaluating food sources. I envy people like you, Judy, who are able to grow a significant amount of what you eat, assuring that it is not contaminated. Do your symposiums ever address inhumane factory farming? The ethical issues bother me the most, but I also wonder about the quality of meat that these practices produce. No wonder there’s such an increase in autism and Alzheimer’s and other previously uncommon diseases emerging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well now you brought up a whole new topic of conversation, and I immediately think chickens. We haven’t bought meat of any kind at a grocery store in a long, long time. We are lucky to have a farm market that sells their own chicken, pork, and beef that is all locally raised in MA on grass without antibiotics. We pay a little more, but it is worth it. And, I truly believe that all of the chronic illnesses that our children and grandchildren are dealing with can be directly linked to our food supply. I don’t think humans were intended to eat a steady diet of Roundup covered and infused crops and animals. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  21. All the farms around here are organic. I suspect the water table — very close to the surface — has a lot to do with it. No one wants to poison their own water supply. They don’t spray for insects, not the town or any of the farms. I wish I could say the same for our moronic neighbors who have twice wiped out the garden birds because they sprayed poison all over their property. But you can’t tell them anything. They already KNOW everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a subdivision close by where I go for walks because they have good sidewalks. 🙂 There is almost never a day when I don’t see a new sign on one yard or the other where they have just had their yard sprayed. This stupid obsession with pesticides is going to kill us all.


  22. Grandma Kc says:

    I do love that I learn more about how to be a healthier me just by reading your blog. I wish I had the option of growing more of my own food but I do try and be careful what I do buy. One of the advantages here is many crops are year round and that helps keep me supplied.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Leah says:

    So much good information in the blog post and in the comments, Judy. What a great and informative community you have here!

    It’s been years since I’ve made my own sauerkraut, but I was raised on the stuff and love it. Might have to get a crock of it going when I get home. I’ve never even heard of Kombucha, so I’ll have to look into that.

    We garden, compost, and try to amend the soil with clean compost and manure. I try to buy organic when possible, but it can be challenging. We are learning more about canning and preserving what we grow in that way (we can’t freeze our produce because the freezer is turned off while we travel for 1/2 of the year).

    One thing I really try to avoid is all of those antibacterial soaps and cleaners. Not good! I would far rather play in the soil (and chew on a dirty hangnail).

    Liked by 1 person

  24. This post has been an interesting adventure. I thought maybe if would be one of those ‘yawn’ posts, but it has been a vibrant conversation with some fascinating information. It sounds like you have a good plan in place for your lifestyle. Playing in the soil is a healthy and happy hobby for sure.


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