10 Foods To Keep Your Gut Healthy And Happy
Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” And, he could not have been more correct!
Conversations about the gut microbiome have been the talk of the town for quite some time now. Healthy, balanced gut flora is key to maintaining health and healing chronic conditions such as autoimmune disease, IBS, and skin issues.
The state of your gut also greatly affects your immune system. Did you know the wall of the gut houses 70 percent of the cells that make up the entire immune system? Crazy, right? Keeping your gut in tip-top shape is key to keeping your entire body healthy and happy.
WHERE IT ALL BEGINS
It has been discovered that babies are born with a sterile digestive system. When they are in the womb they don’t need gut bacteria as all of their nutrition comes directly from mom. Upon entering the world their digestive system begins to colonize bacteria based on their mother’s existing bacteria. Hence why the mother’s state of health is so critical to baby.
Through the birthing process and breastmilk, babies develop their balance of gut bacteria. Babies that are born via c-section or who are bottle-fed can still gain a healthy balance of bacteria through supplementing with probiotics and the introduction of probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods as they grow.
PROBIOTICS VS. PREBIOTICS. SO, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Probiotics are living microorganisms and when taken internally result in health benefits.
Prebiotics are made up of fiber the body cannot digest and act as food for probiotics.
Both Probiotics and Prebiotics are needed for a balance of the gut microbiome. Think of it this way. You can consume all the probiotics you want but they will die off if you don’t feed them. Just as you need food to survive they do too.
The market is saturated with probiotic and prebiotic supplements. While I think supplements have their place in contributing to overall health and wellness, my recommendation to clients is to always focus on real, whole foods first.
It’s easier than you think to sneak probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods into your current diet. Here are ten foods you can start adding to your diet today to achieve better gut health.
10 FOODS TO KEEP YOUR GUT HEALTHY AND HAPPY
My absolute favorite probiotic-rich food is sauerkraut. It must be raw to ensure the bacteria is alive. Canned sauerkraut won’t cut it because it is pasteurized which kills all the bacteria. You can find raw sauerkraut in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. Or, if you want, you can even make it yourself! There are a ton of great tutorials out there that explain the entire process.
GRASS-FED DAIRY, ALMOND, OR COCONUT YOGURT
Plain and unsweetened is best. Always read labels and make sure there is no added sugar. A diet high in sugar can cause a depletion in good bacteria in the gut. Instead, top plain yogurt with seeds, nuts, and berries, and I promise you won’t even miss the sugar.
Kimchi is similar to sauerkraut and the perfect addition to any meal if you like a touch of spice. You will find raw kimchi right next to raw sauerkraut in your grocery store.
FERMENTED PICKLES OR VEGGIES
Again they must be raw and naturally fermented. The easiest way to tell if something is naturally fermented is by taking a quick look at the ingredients. If vinegar is listed the item is NOT fermented. Naturally fermented pickles or veggies should only contain water, salt, spices or herbs.
Kefir is amazing and overflowing with good bacteria. You can buy a starter and make it yourself, or you can find it made with either Grass-Fed Dairy, Nut Milk, Water, or Coconut Water. Again, check the ingredients for sugar. Unsweetened is best!
Chicory root is a plant that is rich in a soluble fiber called inulin. It has been found that 90 percent of inulin passes directly to the colon and is then digested by the good bacteria present in the gut. Chicory root can be brewed and used as a coffee substitute or can be purchased in powder form (my favorite way to consume it) and thrown into a smoothie.
If you have never tried dandelion greens now is the time! They have an earthy, bitter flavor and are wonderful thrown into soups, salads, and stews. In addition, they make a delicious pesto that can be eaten on everything or even by the spoonful. Here is my favorite recipe.
GARLIC AND ONIONS
I use both garlic and onions in just about everything I cook. They are a great source of the prebiotic fiber inulin and add amazing flavor to food.
Asparagus is such a versatile veggie. It can be roasted, steamed, or blended into soup.
BANANAS AND APPLES
Bananas and apples are the best fruit options to keep your gut healthy. When it comes to bananas I always recommend using them when they are a bit green. An under-ripe banana is lower in sugar and higher in prebiotic resistant starch. Apples are another great option due to their pectin content.
A balanced gut is critical to overall health and wellbeing. If you are already consuming a few of these probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods daily, way to go! If you are not, don’t worry. Start by consuming at least one probiotic and prebiotic food each day. Over time your gut will become more balanced and your microbiome with say, “Thank you!”
How do you keep your gut healthy and happy? Share in the comments below.
Looking for more ways to improve your gut health? Head here: 6 Ways To Improve Your Gut Health!