Six of the best foods to reset your gut health
Updated: Sep 4, 2021
Find out which foods promote good gut health and wellbeing. Read to the end to also discover which foods to avoid.
Over 2000 years ago, in Ancient Greece, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine said: “All disease begins in the gut,” (or words to that effect – but in ancient Greek, not English).
He was definitely onto something.
The following symptoms can be a sign of poor gut health:
· Abdominal pain
· Low immunity
What is gut health?
You are what you eat, right?
More accurately, what you eat impacts your gut’s microbiota.
Microbiota. It is a community of trillions of bacteria, living in your intestinal tract. They play a crucial role in digesting food, absorbing nutrients, metabolising food and regulating brain function.
How does my gut affect my overall health?
Good bacteria must fill your microbiota for you to be physically and mentally healthy.
Imbalances in the gut can lead to:
· Food sensitivities/allergies
· Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
· Ulcerative colitis
· Skin conditions (including acne and psoriasis)
· Thyroid problems
· An increased risk of cancer
Can my gut really affect my mental health?
Simply put, yes.
When you say: “I have a gut feeling”, you are linking your gut to your brain. Likewise, millions of nerves and nerve cells are also connecting your gut to your brain.
When your microbiota is off kilter, inflammation occurs in the gut, impacting your central nervous system. This can lead to altered brain signalling pathways and sometimes depression.
What can I do about it?
Good news: by changing your diet, you can alter your microbiota within 24 hours.
Start by consuming more of the following…
1. Fruits and vegetables
Your grandma was right all along: you need fruits and veggies to stay healthy.
Fruits and vegetables are the best source of nutrients for your microbiota as they are rich in fibre.
Fibre stimulates the growth of good gut bacteria, particularly biofiodobacteria – preventing inflammation and improving overall gut health.
Great sources include:
2. Dark chocolate and red wine
This is one your grandma probably didn’t mention…
Food and drink rich in polyphenol (micronutrients found naturally in plants), aid your microbiota.
So, crack open a bottle, get some chocolate and party with your community of good bacteria.
Other excellent sources include:
· Grapes (with skins)
· Green tea
3. Fermented foods (aka probiotic foods)
Fermented foods increase the number of lactobacilli in your gut.
Lactobacilli prevent and treat diarrhoea. They also reduce gut inflammation and possibly benefit mental health.
Fermented foods reduce the number of harmful enterobacteriaceae. This bacterium causes inflammation of the gut and chronic diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
Eating fermented foods not only strengthens your gut but boosts your general immunity.
Fantastic sources are:
· Plain, natural yogurt
· Kimchi (spicy, fermented cabbage)
· Kefir (yogurt drink)
· Tempeh (fermented soybean)
· Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
· Soybean milk
4. Prebiotic foods
Prebiotic foods contain high levels of fibre and complex carbohydrates that your body cannot break down. Instead, the good bacteria in your gut do it for you, using fibre/complex carbs as fuel to grow.
Prebiotic foods include:
· Jerusalem artichokes
· Bananas (unripe ones are best)
Another source of fibre and non-digestible carbohydrates - are you starting to detect a theme here…?!
The small intestine cannot absorb wholegrains, instead they pass to the large intestine. It is here that they break down, benefiting the growth of bifidobacteria, lactobacilli and bacteroides.
Wholegrains also give a feeling of fullness, reduce inflammation of the gut as well as lowering heart disease risk factors – what heroes!
Wholesome wholegrains include:
· Whole oats
· Brown or wild rice
Seeds including chia, hemp and flax are excellent sources of fibre and support the growth of beneficial bacteria. They also contain the type of omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linoleic acid (ALAs), which have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Flaxseeds are best consumed sprouted and ground, for optimum health benefits.
And what should I leave out?
To maintain good gut health, limit your intake of:
· Artificial sweeteners – as found in diet drinks.
· Red meat
· Overly processed foods
· Alcohol (except for red wine, in moderation).
Should I take any supplements?
Of course, you could take a probiotic supplement.
While there’s evidence they improve how certain gut bacteria function, there is little sign that they significantly change the microbiota of healthy people though.
It looks like grandma was right; to stay healthy you need a balanced and varied diet – and don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables!
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