Gut health has become extremely popular recently and for good reason with research suggesting it is related to many things from immunity, how we store fat, regulating glucose levels, controlling appetite, digestion, mental health, hormone and neurotransmitter production and determining our disease risk.
Relying on supplements like probiotics, collagen and glutamine to improve your gut health can be worth it, BUT you must make sure the food you are eating will also help to support your microbiome and ensure those supplements can work their magic most efficiently. You will be wasting your money on supplements if the foundations of your diet are not wholefood based and focused on foods that naturally help to populate your microbiome.
Here's my top 5 tips for how to ensure your food choices are gut friendly..
1. Plant foods:
There is a common denominator in the diets of the healthiest, longest living communities in the world this is an abundance of plant foods. They are incredibly beneficial for out gut flora due to their fibre, polyphenols and antioxidant content. Fibre, in particular, moves through the digestive system where it is fermented by the good bacteria in our intestine and this helps to populate more good bacteria. With 2 out of 3 Australian adults and 1 out of 2 Australian children not eating enough fibre, this is a must if you want your healthy gut bugs to thrive and survive.
2. Fatty foods:
The fat profile of foods can lead it to have pro or anti inflammatory effects and its the omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats that we want to seek out, not only for their anti-inflammatory properties but also because these healthy fats can promote healthier gut bacteria. We're talking fish, eggs, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sea vegetables, organic meats, extra virgin olive oil, avocado and nuts.
Probiotics are strains of healthy bacteria that live in your gut and prebiotics (known as a type of fibre) is what these probiotics feed on. They ferment the prebiotics which stimulates the growth of more good bacteria. Prebiotics includes: onion, garlic, leek, asparagus, artichoke, tempeh, miso, banana, chicory root, dandelion greens, oats, barley and flaxseeds.
4. Resistant starch:
Another form of fibre, resistance starch passes undigested through the small intestine into the large intestine where it is fermented by the bacteria and the gas produced is helpful for the integrity of the lining of our gut. Resistance starch includes: legumes, green bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, al dente (or slightly undercooked) pasta.
5. Fermented products:
Fermented foods actually contain healthy bacteria that is produced from the fermentation process which can improve your ever changing microbiome balance. Fermented foods include kim chi, saurkraut, kombucha, miso, tempeh, tamari as well as the many other combinations of fermented veggies available in the refrigerators at health food stores today.