When someone asks, “How’s your health?” what immediately comes to mind? You may think about your diet or your exercise habits…but is your gut health on your radar?
If you’re like most people, probably not….but it should be.
“Gut health” refers to the microorganisms living in your intestinal tract. According to Harvard Health Publishing, more than 100 trillion bacteria call your GI tract home, and they play an important role in the overall health of your body. The gut biome is considered one of the last unknown frontiers of the human body and, as doctors learn more about this important system, they are realizing how gut health affects other parts of the body. When out of balance, poor gut health can affect the body’s auto-immune response and increase our risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
One of the easiest ways to improve the health of your gut is to improve the quality of food that goes in it. Certain foods are considered “gut friendly” and, when consumed regularly, can help maintain good gut health. Here are our top 3 picks to add to your diet.
Probiotics are the “healthy bacteria” found in fermented foods. Sauerkraut is a great source of probiotics and can be substituted for pickles in most recipes. I love to add it to a charcuterie board as a vinegary foil to rich cheeses.
Kim Chi is another source of probiotics. This spicy mix of fermented cabbage and other veggies is strangely addictive. While most kimchi is made up of large chunks of cabbage, I love to give it a quick whirl in the blender to create a kimchi salsa that I put on everything—tacos, Asian veggie bowls, scrambled eggs…seriously, you can thank me later.
Kefir (drinkable yogurt) and fizzy kombucha are additional sources of prebiotics.
Now that you’re consuming nutrient rich foods full of healthy bacteria, keep those little guys healthy by eating foods full of prebiotic fibers. Onions, spinach, raspberries, beans and lentils, oats, and garlic are all excellent sources of prebiotics that will keep your gut biome happy and well fed.
Polyphenols are micronutrients found in a variety of fresh foods and play an important role in gut health. Many fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, cherries, and apples, are excellent sources of polyphenols.
If you want to drink your micronutrients, try black or green teas and red wine.
Beans, nuts, red onions, spinach, and dark chocolate are additional sources of polyphenols and easy to incorporate into your diet.
As you may have noticed, your gut benefits from a well-rounded, nutrient dense diet made of whole foods. Reduce the number of processed foods, artificial flavorings, and high sugar treats you’re eating and increase the number of wholesome foods you consume. I think you’ll be surprised how quickly your body…the gut included…will feel the difference.
Wishing you gut wellness, friends!