5 Foods That Will Keep Your Gut Healthy
- Written By:Caroline Dweck
Let's hear it for gut health! Our most undervalued and let’s be honest, least sexy group of organs, is getting its 15 minutes of fame as its much earned title as a super-fighting powerhouse. Responsible for everything from the absorption of nutrients, to communicating with our brain, the health of our digestive system is so much more than regulating our metabolism. It serves as a clue to what’s going on in the rest of our bodies- inflammation, weak immune system, low energy-levels, bloating, depression, hormone imbalance, allergies, skin problems, the list of ailments that is connected to our gut is endless.
So it’s no surprise to say that the key to healthy gut health is feeding it the foods it craves. Simply put, the more diverse your microbiome, which hosts trillions of bacteria, the greater your overall health, and vice versa. The star player here are probiotics, the good bacteria that help support your natural gut balance. Like every hero has its trusty sidekick, the prebiotics completes it, cultivating the bacteria and nourishing the digestive system.
While supplements are valuable as an everyday reassurance of a regulated digestive system, Dr. Amy Shah advised, “No supplement can outdo what vegetables can do for your gut.” Since your gut is the gateway to health, trust your gut feeling when we say that these whole plant-based foods will set you on the right track.
Not surprisingly, dietary fiber serves as fuel for beneficial bacteria in our gut in promoting healthy digestion. Unprocessed whole grains such as wheat berries, spelt, rye and brown rice, not only add bulk to your diet, aiding in weight loss, but also help with constipation — we warned you, this wasn’t a sexy topic!
Luckily, soluble fiber is found in practically all our favorite go-to health foods: apples, oats, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes, and even avocado. The key factor in slowing down digestion that gives you that “full feeling,” it also reduces the absorption of cholesterol and sugar in the bloodstream, and truly works wonders in clearing skin issues (this author included).
As if we needed another reason to love these nutrient-dense carbs, root vegetables support gut health as potent prebiotics. Versatile and in season, veggies such as sweet potatoes, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, and jicama (which can be eaten raw!) contain resistant starches that aren’t digested in the small intestine and protect against obesity and diabetes.
Garlic, onions, shallots, leeks and spring onions — all the things that make food taste so delicious! Highly valued in traditional medicine for its high concentration of flavonoids, these veggies are credited in boosting your immune system, benefiting your cardiovascular health, and have cancer-fighting qualities.
While naturally occurring prebiotics are easily found in the grocery aisle and kitchen, probiotics are the fun superstars that require a little more oomph. Buzzy fermented drinks such as kefir and kombucha, as well as foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and coconut yogurt are key factors in feeding the good bacteria that keep our gut health singing for more goodness.
So remember, use your gut as your guide to healthy eating, and all the benefits of a healthy body, mind and soul will follow.