Written By Paiton Groenewald
With so many diets and dietary trends online, it can become difficult to understand and discern what food is good for you. Although everyone’s dietary needs are different, eating food that is nutritious not only makes you feel good but also has immense benefits for your health to ensure that you live a sustainable life.
One way to do this is to eat foods that help improve your gut health. Studies have shown that having a healthy gut contributes to your overall health as your gut is closely linked to your immune system. Having a healthy gut occurs when there is a balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut. If there is an imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria, it can negatively affect the functioning of your immune system. Having an unhealthy gut has also been known to cause negative effects on mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
Gut-healthy foods often include foods that are easily digestible and help maintain the balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut. Here are 10 foods that promote gut health:
1. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, and plain yogurt are known to have positive effects on your gut. These foods (especially plain yogurt) contain probiotics that help boost your immune system and increase the amount of “good” bacteria in the gut. This ensures that your gut functions optimally.
2. Fresh Whole Fruit
Fresh whole fruit is a great source of vitamins and fibre that help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Fibre in particular is beneficial for the gut as it helps promote the production of “good” bacteria. Pineapples, bananas, and apples are examples of fruit that are good for maintaining a healthy gut. Pineapples specifically contain an enzyme called bromelain which helps your gut absorb food, making it easier to digest.
Vegetables are high in nutrients, fibre, and antioxidants which are beneficial for your overall health. While all vegetables are good for you, some vegetables help your gut more than others. Leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, cabbage, and bok choy help control inflammation in the gut. It also supports the production of “good” bacteria in the gut.
Eggs are not only great for breakfast, but they also benefit your gut! They are a great source of protein but unlike other sources of protein such as legumes and fish, eggs are usually easily digested by the gut. Additionally, the protein in eggs helps your gut produce more stomach acid which helps in the process of breaking down food in the gut.
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is often recommended as a “healthier” substitute for milk chocolate. While it is important to note the health benefits of dark chocolate, it is also important to remember that dark chocolate works best when consumed in moderation. Additionally, the higher the cocoa content in the chocolate the better it will be for you. This is because the cocoa in dark chocolate contains fibre, minerals, and vitamins which help promote the production of “good” bacteria in the gut.
Nuts are great to snack on but like dark chocolate, they should also be consumed in moderation. Studies have shown that eating almonds has positive effects on your gut microbiome. Consuming a handful of almonds a day promotes the production of butyrate in your gut. Butyrate is a fatty acid that helps the cells in your colon function optimally, improving the health of your gut.
It’s no surprise that garlic is included in this list. For many years, garlic has been known to have great health benefits for your body and it contributes to a healthy gut too! Garlic contains prebiotics which help increase the production of the “good” bacteria in your gut, which helps improve the overall functioning of your gut.
Chicken is a great source of lean protein that is easily incorporated into any dish. Lean protein, in particular, is great for your body as it is low in saturated fats compared to other types of protein. Chicken is great for your gut as it maintains the balance of the bacteria in the gut and it is also digested faster.
Chickpeas are high in protein, minerals, vitamins, and fibre. They offer great health benefits for the body and specifically the gut. Chickpeas aid in the digestion of food and can help the functioning of the gut by making bowel movements easier and more regular. As they are high in fibre, it also helps increase the amount of “good” bacteria in the gut while mitigating the production of “bad” bacteria.
10. White Rice
White rice is a product that is often a staple in most homes. Usually served with curries and stews, this staple side dish also has great benefits for the gut. White rice is high in starch which increases the production of “good” bacteria, maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.