Only recently have we begun to understand the extent of the gut’s role in our health. The gut promotes normal gastro-intestinal function, protects from infection, regulates metabolism and comprises a major part of our immune system. Because of this, it is important to maintain the health of your gut, so we have put together a list of the best foods for gut health. Foods that are high in refined carbohydrates and sugar or low in fibre can directly contribute to an unhealthy gut, so substitute some of those foods with the ones in the list below!
1) Greek Yoghurt
Probably the most notable probiotic food is Greek yoghurt. Probiotics are a type of microorganism that are similar to those found in the human digestive system. These live microorganisms in Greek yoghurt can help improve your digestive system by reducing harmful bacteria in the gut. They also help your body absorb nutrients, boost your metabolism and improve your immune system. Look for words such as “contains active cultures” on the label to ensure the brand of Greek yoghurt you choose does actually contain probiotics.
Broccoli is rich in sulphur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates. These compounds are broken down by microbes to release substances that reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of colon and stomach cancer. Broccoli is high in fibre so it aids the digestive system too, meaning it is one of the best foods for gut health. Other cruciferous vegetables that have the same benefits as broccoli are kale, cabbage and cauliflower.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut directly inoculate your gut with healthy live micro-organisms that help reduce unhealthy bacteria in your gut, as well as improving the absorption of minerals and overall gut health. Sauerkraut and other fermented plant-based foods have also been found to improve the health of intestinal cells, improve immune function, reduce the risk of colon cancer and treat diarrhoea. With all these benefits, they should definitely be included in your diet!
Artichokes are potent prebiotics. They contain nutrients that help feed the beneficial bacteria that live within your gut and digestive system. Artichokes have a nourishing effect on the liver and digestive tract, and they also have the ability to reduce inflammation. Artichokes have great versatility in recipes so you can incorporate them easily into your meals, but if you’re really not a fan then you can substitute them with other potent prebiotics such as bananas, lentils and asparagus.
5) Dark Chocolate
Believe it or not, this isn’t too good to be true! The good microbes in your stomach feast on dark chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds. The bacteria in your gut essentially turn chocolate healthy, and the anti-inflammatory compounds it produces improve cardiovascular health and can regulate stress levels too. For best results, look for chocolate which contains at least 70% cacao… the higher the cacao, the lower the sugar!