The Peace Naturals Guide to Gut-Healthy Foods
Your gut can be responsible for how well you feel overall. It houses over 40 trillion bacteria that are hard at work to power your entire body. Your gut microbes affect the way you store fat, your blood glucose levels, and how you respond to hormones. Treating your gut incorrectly can mean you’re mistreating your entire body. Scientists have also found that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters that regulate moods like serotonin and dopamine.
In other words, the wellness of your brain and your body can be impacted greatly by your gut health.
The Good Bacteria
Healthy bacteria assist the body in digesting and absorbing nutrients, properly synthesizing vitamins, and fight off intruders like the flu.
The foods you choose to eat are crucial in maintaining gut health. The good news is that even after a lifetime of eating terribly, it’s fixable – in as little as 24 hours. Our bodies amazingly create new microbes just by changing what you eat, starting the repair.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics are beneficial gut bacteria. Prebiotics are food for those bacteria. While these can be taken in supplement form, you can absorb both by just eating the right foods: whole grains, vegetables, and fiber.
The Fall of Fiber
While most people are concerned about lack of protein consumption, fiber deficiency is just as concerning. Fiber is the most crucial, important ingredient for gut health. Fiber feeds the good bacteria we’ve been talking about, so it’s vital to eat fiber-rich foods.
The bacteria extract the fiber’s energy, nutrients, vitamins and fatty acids to help reduce inflammation, improve immune function, and protect against obesity.
There are two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol. This is found in oatmeal, legumes and some fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber offers more of a “cleansing” effect on the digestive system and can be found in whole grains, kidney beans, fruits, and veggies.
Fiber also helps in preventing the most common digestive illness: diverticulitis (inflammation of the intestine). By eating insoluble fiber-rich foods, it reduces the risk of diverticulitis by 40%.
Fermenting certain foods has been around for centuries, but it’s become a huge craze as of lately (we’re looking at you, Kombucha).
The fermentation of foods gives your gut healthy, living microorganisms that help the absorption of vitamins and minerals and support overall health.
Bacteria or yeast is added to particular foods and it feed on the natural sugars. These microbes help create an environment where the food is preserved, as well as create prebiotics. Fermentation is also shown to add additional nutrients to food as well.
As previously mentioned, in the past few years kombucha really gained notoriety. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. It’s probiotic-packed, comes in millions of flavours, and is great for the gut.
Dairy-free yogurts (almond, coconut, oat, soy, rice) tend to be easier to digest than their dairy counterparts. Yogurt naturally contains live cultures and essential bacteria for gut health. If you’re transitioning to dairy-free, you don’t have to live without yogurt – you won’t be able to tell the difference.
A 2016 study published in Nature found that leafy greens like kale and spinach contains something called sugar sulfoquinovose which enriches gut bacteria. The energy found in SQ sugars are used as an energy source for good gut bacteria, or a prebiotic.
Foods containing high levels of fiber are necessary for healthy digestion: legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, asparagus and leeks have all shown a positive impact on gut health.
The gut can be the center of your wellbeing – by taking care of it and feeding it the right things, we can improve our overall health and wellness. We hope this article has helped you start your gut-health journey.