Who doesn’t love eating a good meal? The best meals are ones that taste delicious and have a positive impact on your body and health, but tasting good may not create a healthy gut. When we eat, our gastrointestinal system breaks down the food into simple forms that can enter the bloodstream and deliver nutrients throughout our body. This system—often referred to as the gastrointestinal tract, digestive system or gut—needs to be healthy to function as it should.
Signs of a healthy gut include regular bowel movements and stool appearance. Having excessive gas, bloating or stomach discomfort are common signs of abnormal digestion. A healthy gut functions most effectively when its microbiome (the bacteria and microorganisms present in the gastrointestinal tract) are balanced.
Good bacteria play a crucial role in digestion and keeping us healthy. And the best way to increase good bacteria in your gut is through our food choices.
Here are the best foods for a healthy gut:
Legumes are rich in fiber, helping create a diverse microbiota that protects your system from harmful bacteria. High-fiber legumes include chickpeas, pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, lentils and split peas. Some excellent ways to incorporate legumes into your diet include trying bean dips, hummus and bean salads.
Historically, fermenting was used to preserve foods. Today we also know that fermentation transforms sugars and starches into good natural bacteria! We think this is amazing! Fermented foods are packed with probiotics, which are live bacteria or yeasts that increase gut microbiome health. Good sources of these beneficial bacteria and enzymes are foods like kimchi, yogurt and sauerkraut.
Probiotic drinks are a convenient way to introduce good bacteria to your gut and help bring balance to the organisms in your intestinal tract. Probiotic yogurt drinks are most common in today’s supermarkets. Some probiotic-rich drinks to consider include kefir, a fermented milk beverage and kombucha, a fermented tea.
Prebiotics are a form of fiber that the body cannot digest; they serve as food for probiotics and fertilizer for good gut bacteria. Because prebiotics support healthy digestion, they may help lower the risk for digestive disorders and inflammation. The best sources of prebiotics include bananas, artichokes, asparagus, dark chocolate, berries and oats. Onions and garlic are rich in prebiotics too.
Green bananas anyone? The trick to getting the most prebiotics from bananas is to consume them when the peel is still green. While they aren’t the sweetest, unripe bananas are best at serving as prebiotics for intestinal flora. They also have less sugar and are higher in resistant starch, which can be classified as dietary fiber.
Sweet potatoes, raspberries, whole grains, green peas and oatmeal are all examples of healthy high-fiber foods. Dietary fiber helps keep your bowel movements regular, clean your digestive system and improve your gut health. However, too much fiber can also disrupt the digestive system, causing loose stools and bloating. Therefore, finding a balance in your fiber consumption is also vital.
For more eating tips for a healthier gut, contact Gastro MD. We are a cutting-edge clinical gastroenterology practice and set the standard in digestive health care.