Why is gut health important and what is some gut healthy whole foods? Read this article to find out! The many different species of gut bacteria is crucial and fundamental to our health. The gut makes up 70% of our immune system and thus protects our bodies from bad pathogens. For us to have a healthy and normal functioning gut, we need to protect and nourish it. A healthy lifestyle and diet can help. Your gut relies on just the right balance of different bacteria (microbiome) to digest your food and to prevent infection and inflammation to your body.
A list of gut healthy tips and whole foods to eat
- diverse range of foods – Eating a diverse diet rich, in whole foods can lead to a diverse microbiome, which is crucial and fundamental for your overall health.
- vegetables, legumes, beans, and fruit – Many fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Fiber promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including specific types such as Bifidobacteria.
- fermented foods – Fermented foods can benefit the gut microbiome by enhancing its function and reducing the abundance of disease-causing bacteria in the intestines. (plain yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut and sourdough)
- probiotic foods – These are live cultures and yeasts that are described as ‘good’ or ‘healthy’ gut bacteria, or simply a ‘gut-friendly’ bacteria. It is believed that probiotics boost the number and variety of beneficial bacteria in the colon, and this helps your digestive system and overall health. (yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses)
- prebiotic foods – Prebiotics are non-digestible foods that stimulate the growth or activity of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. They essentially provide the food that the probiotics need to thrive. Some studies suggest that prebiotics could also reduce risk factors for certain health conditions by decreasing levels of insulin, triglycerides, and cholesterol. (chicory root, dandelions, jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus and bananas)
- whole grains – Whole grains contain nondigestible carbs that can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria within the gut microbiome. These changes to the gut flora may improve certain aspects of metabolic health. (barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), millet, oatmeal)
- foods rich in polyphenols – Polyphenols can’t be digested efficiently by human cells, but they are efficiently broken down by the gut microbiota. They may improve several health outcomes related to heart disease and inflammation. Colorful foods are rich in polyphenols… as are tea, coffee, and red wine. Polyphenols in green tea may help fight “bad” bacteria like E. coli and calm symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and peptic ulcers. (berries, herbs and spices, cocoa powder, nuts, flaxseeds, olives, coffee and tea)
To conclude, eating whole foods found in nature and high in pre- and probiotics may support a healthy microbiome.