Gut health continues to be an important topic when it comes to health and nutrition. That’s because a healthy gut can greatly influence your overall health. It can affect your weight, your mental health, and your mood. Of course, if you have a healthy gut, you won’t have to worry about digestive disorders.
When we’re talking about the health of your digestive system, it’s really all about what you put in your mouth. The good news is that foods that are great for your gut are all good for your overall health. For instance, foods that are high in dietary fiber have other benefits on top of the fiber content. High-fiber foods are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients your body needs. Here are thirteen of the most nutritious foods you can eat to improve your gut health.
Prebiotics are non-digestible for us but we need to eat them anyway. That’s because these foods provide the necessary fiber that will feed and nourish the good bacteria living in our guts. When prebiotic fiber goes through our small intestines, they remain undigested. But when they reach the large colon, they get fermented there. Through this fermentation process, the good bacteria in our digestive system get their nourishment. This, in turn, helps them grow in number.
- Raw dandelion greens – Whether you add this to your salad or sandwich, this prebiotic food is a sure winner. It’s loaded with calcium, iron, vitamin A, and a lot of vitamin K. Plus, it gives you 24.3% of fiber by weight.
- Raw chicory root – One of the best and most popular prebiotic foods, you can buy this in ground form or in supplement form. Raw chicory root will give you 65% of fiber by weight, and because of this, it’s usually added in many food products like cereals and other breakfast items.
- Raw garlic – Garlic’s health benefits are already well-known. A great source of selenium, vitamins C and B6, manganese, and other nutrients, raw garlic is also a great prebiotic food. To better enjoy it, you can add it to your pasta or when you’re stir-frying vegetables. Raw garlic will give you 17.5% of fiber by weight.
- Sunroot or Jerusalem artichoke – It’s not exactly an artichoke but it’s similar in flavor. Packed with potassium and iron, raw Jerusalem artichokes are great prebiotic foods, giving you 31.5% fiber by weight.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that make a home of our digestive tract. Although there’s always a mix of good and bad bacteria in our gut, the term probiotics actually refer to live beneficial bacteria or the good bacteria. The two most common types of these are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
These beneficial gut bacteria take care of many functions such as getting rid of toxins and helping our immune system function properly. They also aid in the production of serotonin in our bodies, which is our favorite feel-good chemical. Probiotic products are either sold as food, supplements, or as health drinks.
- Sauerkraut – The process of making sauerkraut involves natural lactic acid fermentation. And like any fermented food, it contains a lot of natural probiotics. If you’re buying processed sauerkraut, make sure to avoid those that have been pasteurized, as pasteurization kills bacteria through heat.
- Kombucha – This drink is a result of fermenting black tea and sugar. The sugar may be from various sources such as cane sugar, honey, or fruit sugar. The good thing about it is that since it’s tea, kombucha will also give you a lot of antioxidants and polyphenols. However, the same warning goes, try to avoid pasteurized kombucha because that won’t give you the good bacteria you need for a healthy gut.
- Kimchi – A traditional Korean food, kimchi is rich in probiotics because it’s actually made by fermenting vegetables through the use of lactic acid bacteria. Aside from getting a good supply of good bacteria, eating kimchi will also give you a lot of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients coming from the vegetable ingredients.
- Yogurt – Of course, since we’re talking about probiotics, we just can’t disregard yogurt. Different kinds of yogurt have different strains of bacteria, however, the ones that contain Lactobacillus acidophilus are usually easier to digest. When buying yogurt for your gut health, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s Greek yogurt or not. The most important thing about yogurt is that it contains the live bacteria your gut needs, so always look for the phrase “live active cultures”.
High Fiber Content
Foods containing dietary fiber help lower bad cholesterol levels in the bloodstream and provide bulk for better bowel movement. You’ll need to eat at least twenty-five grams of dietary fiber for a 2,000 calorie/day diet. Here are examples of nutritious food that can easily help you achieve your daily dietary fiber quota.
- Ready-to-eat cereals – There are brands that offer only around 10 grams of fiber for a 100-gram serving size. Try to avoid those, if you can, and go for those that offer more than 15 grams of dietary fiber per 100-gram serving so you can get a fiber-packed breakfast.
- Unsalted roasted almonds – You’ll get 10.9 grams of dietary fiber for each 100g serving of this yummy food. Instead of reaching for chips when you’re in front of the TV, try to reach out for this nutritious snack.
- Passion fruit – Try squeezing 100 grams of this tart fruit in your morning smoothie to get an additional 10.4 grams of dietary fiber every day.
- Unsweetened desiccated coconut meat – Coconuts have extremely high fiber content. One hundred grams of desiccated coconut meat will give you 16.3 grams of fiber, even more than what you’ll get from beans. Blend it with your smoothie, sprinkle it over your desserts, or mix it with your soup for a creamy flavor!
- Dried apricots, prunes, and raspberry – Each of these will make for a great dessert or snack, and each of them will give you 7 grams of fiber for a serving size of 100 grams.