If you feed your stomach with beneficial foods, your stomach will love you for it! Gut health. The microbiome. It’s a thing. A big thing. Let’s dive into what you should know and what foods are going to impact your health in the best way!
There are a hundred trillion microbes that inhabit your body. It’s called the gut microbiome. Our microbes.
They synthesize vitamins. They educate the immune system and help strengthen it. They regulate appetite and your weight. They play a role in your mood. They’re important! And we are going to talk about beneficial foods to keep our gut microbiome healthy.
The Standard American Diet (S.A.D)
The S.A.D diet is full of foods that are void of nutrients. It’s processed. And highly processed diets starve our gut microbes. We should instead eat foods that feed it and keep it strong and healthy. Think: Plants!
A meal that lacks colors is not going to be a meal that will encourage vitality and a strong gut. It would do quite the opposite. So load up and eat the rainbow!
How Our Gut Microbiome Eats
Think of our gut microbiome this way: We need to eat, and our guts need to eat. The gut feeds on our leftovers- that is, the particles of food that our body cannot digest. These are leftovers that make it down to the colon.
Vegetables deliver a lot of fiber leftovers to the gut. It nourishes the good microbes. When the good gut microbes digest the fiber, they let out chemicals that are beneficial for us. These chemicals are used as energy by the intestinal cells and help keep the lining strong.
When we have a colorful bowl of food, we have a meal that cannot be completely digested by the human body so our gut microbes get to feed off of it. When we have more of a “beige” or processed meal, our body can process basically all of it before it hits or colon so there is little to no food left for the gut to feed on. Upon having these beige types of meals chronically, Fiber microbes die off and a few “bad” microbes might take over. And these bad microbes leave a trail of chemicals that can cause inflammation in the body.
How Quickly Can Our Gut Microbiome Change?
If you’ve eaten mostly processed foods for a while and you have a bunch of inflammatory chemicals in the gut, you can quickly turn around the health of the gut microbiome. Well, “quickly” is subjective.
In short: Every few days of eating gut-healthy food can make a small difference… but still a difference. A week or two of gut-healthy food could make a big difference. And months (to sometimes a few years) of eating gut-healthy foods could make a significant difference. It can change your life. So don’t give up. Just stay empowered and eat to fuel your gut. This study on mice showed that even one day of gut-healthy foods can change your microbiome.
Also, keep in mind that whether these good or bad microbes are in your gut- they are going to crave certain things. Bad microbes will crave more sugar. Good microbes will crave more fiber and plants. So if you have cravings for food that doesn’t make you feel good, then know that it doesn’t have to be this way forever! Your gut will adapt as you change your diet. And if you crave foods that already make you feel vital, then you just need to maintain! It’s a marathon, not a sprint when it comes to gut health.
10 Top Foods To Feed Your Gut Microbiome
Keep in mind that everyone is different and before changing any diet you should speak to a doctor and definitely do your own research. But in general, these foods are wonderful for feeding the gut microbiome! I include most of these weekly if not daily. Many of these foods are prebiotics, which feed the probiotics (beneficial bacteria) in our guts. I also tried to pick some that aren’t as obvious, so if you’re familiar with gut health, you might still learn something new!
Flax Seeds- A serving of this would be incredibly helpful to our gut. It has a lot of fiber and lignins and polyphenols- all which fuel our microbiome. They all work in tandem to lower blood sugar and help control our weight. The fiber ferments in the gut and feeds good bacteria. Tip: Flaxseed oil can go rancid quickly, so opt for flax seeds as on their own or grounded into a fine powder. This can be used for all kinds of breakfast and baking dishes. Enjoy the benefits! (Source + Source)
Apples: Pectin is a soluble fiber, and apple is a rich source of it. Pectin can bypass digestion and make it all the way to our small intestine, where it is later broken down by good bacteria in the colon. Pectin even decreases inflammation in the colon, which overall would help our gut microbiome. An apple a day keeps the doctor away may be true in some cases. (Source + Source)
Coconut Products (Fermented and not)- Most of us have an overgrowth of bad bacteria in our gut (things like yeast and candida) and probiotics help push out the bad bacteria. Coconut products are probiotic-rich. Eating more fermented foods is key to helping to heal the gut. Coconut is also easy to digest and can be antimicrobial. People with digestive issues should still start slow with smaller servings. (Source)
Ginger- In the U.S, we don’t get enough herbs and spices. In Asia and other nations, they consume more herbs than Americans do and this benefits their gut microbiomes. One herb they love to cook with is ginger and we should take note. Ginger is the ultimate warming spice and is highly anti-inflammatory. It also helps accelerate gastric emptying. (Source + Source)
Jicama- This is also a great prebiotic. It has a ton of Vitamin C and A (both important for the immune system- which most of it lives in the gut) and it can be eaten raw so it’s convenient as a snack. Jicama is high in resistant starch, which the gut loves, it helps our insulin benefits from, and also what makes it classified as a prebiotic. Go Jicama! (Source + Source)
Sauerkraut- This is beneficial for the gut microbiome because it’s a probiotic. The bacteria thrives in the culture that the cabbage is being pickled in, which we later call sauerkraut. This food feeds our gut flora and strengthens our whole gut microbiome. It also has some prebiotics in it as well so the prebiotics and probiotics within it thrive together as a team. A double win for the gut! (Source)
Chia Seeds- Chia seeds contain a lot of fiber per serving and when they are moistened, it causes them to form this gel-like substance. It stays this way in the stomach and works like a prebiotic would- by supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria. This also helps lead to a healthy digestion in general. (Source + Source + Source)
Dandelion Greens- these provide minerals and other vitamins that our gut microbiome loves. Dandelion greens give us those probiotic fibers that a gut needs in order to thrive. These are also supportive in helping detox our gut as well, which is actually how most people find out about dandelion- when they are looking for foods to incorporate to help them detox! But what is does for the gut is even more amazing. One simple way is to use this as a tea or in a soup. (Source + Source)
Asparagus- This vegetable is high in vitamins and minerals and also in prebiotics. It’s packed with nutrients, including glutathione, which helps our body detox, something the gut can greatly benefit from. Asparagus also contains high levels of inulin (an indigestible fiber), which feeds healthy bacteria like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. (Source + Source)
Blueberries: These are high in fiber and easy to digest. They are also high in antioxidants which benefit the gut. The fiber in blueberries is specifically important because it can alleviate and protect against inflammation in the intestines. We should always be proactive in eating foods that will protect us and lower inflammation. (Source + Source)
Which ones are you going to start including more of?
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