Have you ever experienced that heavy, uncomfortably full feeling in your abdomen and wondered "what did I eat?" Sometimes, even if we're eating clean, stomach discomfort is inevitable.
This is certainly true if you're unaware of what foods you need to keep your gut happy. We need certain probiotic foods to support the complex system that we call our gut microbiome.
The human gut microbiome contains microorganisms including fungi, bacteria, yeast, viruses, and protozoa that demand a certain balance in order for you to achieve optimal health.
The gut is closely tied to every other bodily function such as your immune system, joint health, and even your cognition and mood. In other words, it’s extremely important to pay attention to your gut and handle it with care.
Watching what you eat is the first step in caring for your gut health. If you’re interested in gut health, you’ve probably heard of probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms that live in our bodies and also can be found in foods.
They help keep the microflora in your gut balanced and happy. Your gut microbiome is made up of the microbes that live in your digestive tract. Your microbiome is composed of bacteria, archaea, viruses, and eukaryotic microbes that reside in and on our bodies.
The bacteria in your gut are good bacteria. We need our gut bacteria to keep our system balanced. When your microbiome is unbalanced (when you consume a lot of junk food, alcohol, etc.) you have a greater chance of developing gut-related health concerns such as irritable bowel syndrome.
When harmful bacteria enter your digestive system the good bacteria multiply to keep the bad bacteria from spreading. Good gut bacteria also help supply nutrients and aids in digestion.
There are steps you can take to clean out and maintain a well-balanced gut, which brings us to today's topic. Start by avoiding hard-to-digest foods like red meat, processed foods, and sugar and swapping them out for high fiber fruits and vegetables, fermented foods, and whole grains.
Your digestive system depends on certain nutrients from foods to stay healthy and work properly. So, if you start with your diet, you may find discomfort in your gut is easier to control than you thought. As always, if you are experiencing severe bloating, constipation, or any other major gut health concern be sure to seek medical advice.
However, healthy eating isn't always as easy as it sounds. Especially when you have no idea what certain foods do for your body. We're going to go through the top 5 foods for gut health so you can continue your journey towards a well-balanced microbiome.
Foods For Gut Health
Natural yogurt contains live active cultures which are, essentially, two types of that good bacteria we talked about earlier. The two types of bacteria are scientifically named Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, and they are what help convert milk to yogurt during fermentation. These microorganisms make yogurt a probiotic food.
One study showed that four weeks of probiotic yogurt consumption by healthy adults increased gut content of healthy bacteria while not significantly affecting the rest of the complex system.
2. Jerusalem artichokes
Though this type of vegetable may be lesser-known, it's one of the best for gut health. These artichokes are super high in inulin fiber which is a prebiotic that supports digestive health.
Prebiotics help regulate bowel movement and stimulate the production of beneficial bacteria to help maintain that balance we've talked about.
3. Brussel sprouts
Brussel sprouts can certainly be an acquired taste, but when roasted the right way with a little honey, garlic, and balsamic vinegar - there's nothing better!
These crunchy, green orbs are high in fiber which helps support regularity and may help remove outside toxins due to their high sulfur content. Try a cup or two of Brussel sprouts and you may begin to notice movement in your gut immediately.
4. Kimchi or Sauerkraut
Both of these foods are made from fermented cabbage, though they are prepared differently and come from different cultures.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made from fermented vegetables and is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is actually considered to be healthier than sauerkraut, which you can actually taste as it is much more flavorful and pungent. Serve with a bowl of miso soup for the ultimate gut-boosting meal.
Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage that has been fermented and it is one of the best-known dishes in Germany. It is rich in vitamins C, B, A, K, and a variety of minerals.
5. Olive oil
One of the main components of the Mediterranean diet is the use of olive oil. Olive oil is mainly made up of fatty acids that support inflammatory responses within the intestines.
Studies have shown that the consumption of olive oil held the body produce beneficial gut bacteria while exerting influence on pro-inflammatory agents in the body.
Olive oil also supports your circulatory system that helps pump blood to your heart and your brain. In other words, though olive oil is technically a fat, it's a healthier fat that can actually do more good than bad.
Summary: Eat Your Way To A Healthy Gut
You don't have to stop eating what you love in order to achieve a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. Just be mindful of the sugar and processed foods you consume and try to incorporate more of these five foods into your daily routine.
Remember fermented foods are your friend! They are considered a probiotic food and help stimulate the production of helpful bacteria to balance out the bad bacteria whether it's environmental or dietary.
Foods like olives, pickles, kimchi, and sauerkraut are a few tasty examples of probiotic-rich foods. Also, remember high-fiber foods are important to regulate your bowels and keep your digestive system on track.
A longer list of foods for gut health include:
Basically, foods for gut health are foods that are probiotics (fermented) or prebiotics (high-fiber). Both of these types of food are going to help regulate your digestive tract, bowels, and keep the good bacteria in your gut quantified and ready to take on any bad bacteria that may enter.
You may not think to use these foods on a day-to-day basis, but there are plenty of great recipes out there to try. Just take one of the aforementioned foods (or one from the longer list!) and try to incorporate it into one of your regular dinners. Anything you can do to support your gut, is better than doing nothing!
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