“The best and most efficient pharmacy is within your own system.” ~Robert C. Peale.
Keeping our gut, and the bacteria living in it, healthy and happy is incredibly important. Not only does a healthy gut microbiome promote better digestion, it also keeps our heart healthy, affects how we store fat, controls our blood pressure and even regulates our mood through the release of serotonin and dopamine.
It really is linked to about everything else in our body and that’s why it’s called the ‘second brain’.
So, if you want to improve your mood, boost your immune system, encourage normal cholesterol levels or look for a way to reduce your risk of diabetes, you might want to start with your gut microbiome.
To help you keep your gut happy and maintain a healthy intestinal tract, we’ve put together some foods you should start incorporating more of into your diet, as well as a few to avoid.
What Foods to Avoid
There are a few food types that, although you can’t necessarily avoid altogether, you should at least cut down on if you want to maintain a healthy gut. These include:
- Dairy products – Even though you might have been told otherwise, milk doesn’t actually do the body too much good. A lot of people – even if they don’t know it – can find casein, whey, and lactose hard to break down, causing problems in the gut.
- Sugar – It’s about balance since sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your gut. The more sugar you eat the more the bad types can grow.
- Eggs – make sure you eat organic, free range eggs so they’re fed a healthy, natural diet. Otherwise, they can be high in omega-6 which can cause inflammation of the intestine and digestion problems.
- Gluten – Reducing your gluten intake can dramatically reduce the inflammation in your gut, promoting healthier digestion and decreasing sensitivity.
If you have problems with the health of your gut, it can be good to cut out certain food types, starting with those mentioned above and see what makes a difference.
You could start eating more of the foods that are good for your gut, such as these…
Plenty of Fibre
Getting enough fibre in your diet is vital to keeping those bacteria happy and your gut healthy. Fruit and vegetables contain a ton of fibre (stock up on raspberries, pears, carrots, and broccoli), as do nuts, whole-wheat pasta and bread. Chia seeds are also very rich in fibre, and go perfectly on top of porridge, which is another great source of the stuff.
Start including fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and tempeh into your diet for a gut-boost. These sorts of foods are rich in probiotics, so can get rid of bad bacteria, yeast, and parasites, all of which are bad for the gut.
Full of those all-important probiotics, asparagus is great for the gut. It also contains plenty of inulin, which can help with bowel movements and reduce bloating.
Strengthen gut mucus, help food release energy slower, and increase the good bacteria in your gut with seaweed. Whether in sushi rolls or incorporated into a salad, seaweeds a wonder food that’s great for your intestinal tract.
Though a small seed, it shouldn’t be underestimated. Flaxseed has a huge lignin content, which is an antioxidant that prevents cancer and helps to promote good bacteria in your gut. It’s full of fibre and promotes regularity in digestion.
The simple banana is a staple in many people’s diet, and it comes with a ton of health benefits. The high amounts of potassium and magnesium in this fruit can help reduce gut inflammation and bloating, keeping your body happy.
Probiotics vs Prebiotics
Probiotics are foods, or food supplements, that contain live good bacteria so help to re-populate our gut with beneficial flora. This includes live yoghurt and fermented foods. Prebiotics are foods that nourish and feed our good gut bacteria and encourage the development of a diverse community of microbes. These foods are complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables and wholegrains plus garlic and onions.
So you need a diet with both prebiotics and probiotics to create a balanced digestive microbiome system.
Maintaining a healthy gut can have a tremendous impact on your overall health and wellbeing, from encouraging normal cholesterol levels to keeping your mood up, so make sure your diet is helping yours rather than hindering it!
What’s your favourite food to eat to help your gut health?