Your gut health determines what nutrients are absorbed on top of what toxins, allergens, and microbes are kept out. It’s directly linked to the health of your entire body. Many factors affect gut health. Diet, food intolerances, lifestyle, hormones, sleep, and medications all affect how your gut digests and manages what you consume. Here are a few tips to help you heal your gut.
Consuming foods with probiotics is a way to re-introduce good bacteria into your digestive tract. It’s important to note that there are good and bad bacteria. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that are essential to proper gut health.
Probiotics can be consumed by either eating fermented foods or taking probiotic supplements. It’s recommended that you try to incorporate fermented food into your diet rather than opting for supplements right away (unless recommended by your doctor of course).
Here’s a list of a few probiotic-containing foods;
- fermented vegetables
Prebiotics are a way of nourishing those healthy bacteria. Think of it as feeding the good guys.
Prebiotics are natural soluble fibres which probiotics will eat, and then produce short-chain fatty acids, which inhibit the growth of pathogens (the disease-causing, flu inducing suckers). This maintains the health of your intestinal lining.
The following are a shortlist of prebiotic foods you might want to add to your diet.
- Jerusalem artichoke
- whole grains
Ginger is renowned for its many health benefits, from blood-thinning (great for preventing blood clots) to relaxing muscles. One such muscle ginger can relax in the smooth muscle of the intestines. This is good news for anyone prone to gas or cramping. On top of that, ginger can stimulate saliva, bile and gastric enzymes, giving a further helping hand to your digestion system.
FODMAPs are carbohydrates found in certain types of food, including wheat and beans. Studies have indicated strong links between FODMAPs and digestive issues like gas, stomach pain, bloating, diarrhoea and even constipation. Low-FODMAP diets have provided remarkable benefits for many people with common digestive disorders.
Foods high in FODMAPs include;
- Beverages: Beer, fortified wines, soft drinks with high-fructose corn syrup, milk, soymilk, fruit juices
- Dairy products: Milk (from cows, goats and sheep), ice cream, most yoghurts, sour cream, soft and fresh cheeses (cottage, ricotta, etc) and whey protein.
- Fruits: Apples, applesauce, apricots, blackberries, boysenberries, cherries, canned fruit, dates, figs, pears, peaches, watermelon
- Legumes: Beans, chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans
- Other grains: Barley and rye
- Sweeteners: Fructose, honey, high fructose corn syrup, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol
- Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, fennel, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, peas, shallots
- Wheat: Bread, pasta, most breakfast cereals, tortillas, waffles, pancakes, crackers, biscuits
With these tips in mind, you can take the first step to heal your gut today. Admittedly, it can feel like a stab in the dark to start by trying all of these at once, but don’t feel overwhelmed. You can simplify the process by getting an intolerance test, to quickly find out which foods that are currently a problem and start by removing those.