Did you know that a healthy gut is essential for overall health? Without the ability to digest food and absorb essential nutrients it would be hard to stay healthy.
Your digestive system is the foundation of your well-being, and it is involved in absorbing nutrients, producing serotonin and getting rid of waste. When your digestive system is working properly, you feel your best when it’s not you don’t feel good. This is why what you eat is so important to your overall health because it affects how you feel on a daily basis.
When you have an unhealthy gut, it can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating, or diarrhea. Since 60-80% of the immune system is located in your gut, gut imbalances have been linked to diabetes, hormonal issues, chronic fatigue, autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, and other chronic health problems.
Do you want to get your GI system functioning in tip top shape? Here are three types of foods that can get you on your way to a healthier gut.
High-fiber Plant-based Foods
Regularly eating foods that are rich in fiber help regulate the proper functioning of the gut. There are two types of fiber— soluble and insoluble, and most plant-based foods contain a mixture of both. Soluble fiber slows digestion, which helps lower cholesterol and blood glucose. Insoluble fiber remains unchanged all the way to the colon, making waste heavier and softer so it can pass more quickly through the intestines. No matter which type of fiber is consumed, the body never actually digests it. However, managing fiber intake correctly is important because imbalances present challenges that have the potential of interrupting daily activities.
Eating too little fiber can make it difficult to control blood sugar and appetite because fiber regulates the speed of digestion and contributes to the feeling of being full after a meal. On the other hand, eating too much fiber can move food through the intestines too quickly, which means fewer minerals get absorbed from food. Also, it can lead to uncomfortable gas, cramping, and bloating, especially when fiber intake is dramatically increased. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men under 50 eat about 38 grams of fiber each day and women consume 25 grams. Adults over the age of 50 require less fiber (30 grams for men and 21 grams for women) due to decreased food consumption. Plant-based foods that are high in fiber include split peas, lentils, black beans, lima beans, artichokes, peas, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, artichokes, raspberries, blackberries, avocados, pears, and oats.
Did you know that fermented foods are good for your gut health?
You have a community of beneficial bacteria called a microbiome that helps keep your digestive system healthy by keeping out harmful bacteria, producing vitamins and neurotransmitters that affect mood and much more.
Another way to keep your microbiome healthy is to replenish the good bacteria by eating fermented foods. The microbiome in our gut is affected by what you eat; a diet full of sugar and unprocessed foods feeds the harmful bacteria and increases inflammation in the gut. Other factors that affect your digestive system include: unmanaged stress, environmental toxins and taking antibiotics; these things can kill your good bacteria and leave room for the harmful bacteria to grow.
Fermented foods are rich in beneficial bacteria that can help replenish and support the good bacteria in your gut. Eating fermented foods like kefir, yogurt (plain unflavored) and fermented vegetables helps promote gut health by providing your gut with nutrients that it needs to maintain the intestinal lining, produce vitamins and neurotransmitters and regular mood.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber rich foods that feed the good bacteria in your gut. These fiber rich food are broken down in the large intestine by your beneficial bacteria. When your good bacteria are well fed, it makes it easier for them to keep harmful bacteria at bay and promote and maintain your overall and digestive health. Prebiotic-rich foods include raw onions, garlic, leeks; Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, and chicory root.
Probiotics are living cultures that support the trillions of beneficial bacteria that are in your gut. You may be familiar with taking probiotics after a trial of antibiotics. Probiotics replenish the good bacteria that were killed along with the bad bacteria that made you sick. Eating foods rich in probiotics on a daily basis can help maintain the fragile balance between your beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria in your gut.
Avoid foods that are rich in sugar and trans fats because they promote the growth of harmful bacteria and increase inflammation in the gut which can lead to a leaky gut.
Foods that are rich in probiotics include kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut. These foods help prevent leaky gut, boost your immunity, improve your mood, improve digestion and the absorption of nutrients from food, reduce food allergies increase your metabolism and protect you from harmful bacteria and yeast overgrowth.
If you want to have optimal health, keep your gut healthy by eating a diet rich in fiber (insoluble and soluble), and whole, unprocessed foods.