Ten foods to improve your gut health and support digestion
Author: Stephanie Carey
Why is gut health so important?
The Gut is the gateway to good health. When your gut isn’t functioning properly the rest of your body, including the digestive system, is affected.
The microflora (the community of bacteria) of your gut is not only responsible for the digestion and assimilation of nutrients but also the production of hormones, neurotransmitters and immune mediators – approximately 70% of our immune system is actually produced in our gut. Pretty amazing!
So when we go on antibiotics and wipe out ALL of our microflora, we are left with nothing for our poor immune system to function with. Hence it is extremely important to use a good quality probiotic after antibiotic usage and include probiotic rich foods in your daily diet.
But what about PREBIOTICS?
Prebiotics are types of fibres found in foods, which allow good bacteria to adhere to the wall of the bowel. This means they set up the groundwork for the probiotics in your gut to flourish. They are best buddies with Probiotics so make sure you are consuming these in conjunction with your probiotic rich foods.
Here are ten probiotic and prebiotic foods you can include in your diet to improve your gut health:
Sauerkraut or fermented veges are a fantastic source of probiotics, fibre, antioxidants and vitamin C! A perfect addition to any salad or barbeque. Just avoid the ones that have added sugar (it totally defeats the purpose of eating them).
Ok, yes I will admit this beverage has recently become trendier than General Pants but its one of the most DELICIOUS sources of beneficial bacteria. Kombucha is a sweetened fermented tea that contains oodles of good bacteria and enzymes, plus is super refreshing on a hot day.
This beautiful herb is a naturopath’s best friend. It is antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antifungal and is quite smart in the fact that it selectively kills bad bacteria in the gut but leaves the good guys intact. Whoah! Consider Mr Garlic your new best friend in the kitchen – add him to every dish you can.
- Slippery Elm Powder
This luscious soothing bark is heaven for an inflamed gut. A herb that originated from North America, the powder is a soothing demulcent and prebiotic that is specific for inflamed sore tummies. Add this to your morning water, juice or smoothie to give your gut a good start to the day.
- Bone Broth
An abundant source of glutamine, collagen, protein, iron and trace minerals. Glutamine is specifically important for providing fuel for the intestinal cells and rebuilding the gut lining. Make sure you pick an organic grass fed bone broth – you don’t want to be absorbing extra chemicals, hormones and additives.
(Apologies vegos and vegans – this one you will have to sit out).
- Green Tea
Switching your morning Coffee for a Green Tea could be one of the best things you do for your gut. Not only is Green Tea a rich source of antioxidants it also contains a substance called Polyphenols, which have been shown to increase Lactobacillus (a type of good bacteria) in the gut.
Who doesn’t love Almonds? Almonds are classed as a prebiotic rich food – they will help your little probiotic buddies survive and set up camp in the gut for good! They are also a fantastic source of protein, good fats, calcium and zinc. A tasty afternoon snack or add them to your favourite salad.
- Cruciferous vegetables
Yes, I know, your probably thinking but I hate broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts. Cruciferous veges contain an absolute powerhouse of nutrients. They help balance beneficial gut microflora, provide fibre and are super rich in antioxidants. Include 1 cup of cooked cruciferous veges to your diet each day.
Tip: Use condiments such as Hummus, Tahini, Tamari or fresh herbs to flavour your veges and make them so exciting you’ll want them all the time.
- Jerusalem artichoke
Say What? I will admit Jerusalem artichoke is definitely not a common kitchen herb but it sure packs a punch with nutrients for the gut! A fabulous source of prebiotics and vitamins. But how do you use it? You can cook them the same way as potatoes - roasted or sautéed or baked. They also make a great dip with vege sticks.
- Dark Chocolate
Yes. This is not a typo! Cacao in dark chocolate also contains the chemical Polyphenols – which have been shown to increase lactobacillus in the gut. However, this isn’t a wild card to reach for a block of Dairymilk every night. Pick a good quality organic chocolate that contains cacao and is sugar free.
You can find these gut-loving foods at your local health food store.
A healthy gut means a healthy: mood, mind, immune system, body weight, skin and digestive system.
Digestive Disorders Naturopathy can assist with:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Coeliac Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Parasitic Infections
- Overuse of Antibiotic Therapy
- Heartburn and Reflux
- Diarrhoea and constipation
- Anxious Gut (Stress & anxiety that affects the gut)
Stephanie is a Naturopath and Nutritionist who has a special interest in digestive issues, female reproductive health and sports nutrition. She lives by the beautiful beaches of Bateau Bay.