Today I’m talking all about gut health – what foods are best and what to avoid to promote good digestion and a healthy gut microbiome!
- Medications such as antibiotics, high stress levels, or an unhealthy diet can knock your gut microbiome (i.e. the collection of bacteria in your intestines) out of whack. As a result, you may experience bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramps, or weight gain. Research has shown that your diet directly influences the function and composition of your gut microbiome. A lesser known fact is that our digestive tract also plays a large role in our immune system.
- To improve gut health, eat foods rich in probiotics, prebiotics, lean sources of protein, and healthy fats rich in omegas.
- Probiotics are living organisms collected from strains of bacteria or yeasts. They are found in certain foods, dietary supplements, and live in our gut. They have been scientifically proven to be beneficial to our health, especially to our digestive system. Foods rich in probiotics include fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi, yogurt, miso, kefir, tempeh, & kombucha. Probiotics are fed by other foods, a.k.a. prebiotics.
- Prebiotics are the “food” that help probiotics really flourish. They are essentially indigestible carbohydrates (fiber) that feed healthy bacteria. Probiotics and prebiotics work together as a “team” – so including food sources that are rich in both will lead to the most benefit. Foods rich in prebiotics include soybeans, legumes, whole grains and a variety of fruits and vegetables such as bananas, onions, asparagus, & jicama.
- Foods that could HARM gut health include: red meat, processed meat, hydrogenated oils, fried foods, refined carbohydrates and sugar. Also limit intake of artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols which could increase bloating and gas.
- Choose leaner cuts of meat such as chicken and fish which are easier for the gut to digest than red meat. A few other foods that promote gut health are ginger, flax, chia, and hemp. Water is also extremely important for proper digestion – so stay hydrated and avoid excessive intakes of caffeine and alcohol!