Jerusalem Artichoke: Also Known As Sunroot Sunchoke Or Earth Apple
This unique tuber may be widely overlooked, but its one of the best foods for gut health, as its also rich in inulin.
Dont let the name fool you though its nothing like the leafy green artichoke. This root vegetable is starchy, savory, and has a slightly sweet and nutty taste.
A 2010 study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that the prebiotic effect of Jerusalem artichoke can increase the fecal Bifidobacterium level and causes an increase in the level of the Lactobacillus/Enterococcus group .
One thing to note: Jerusalem artichokes can ahem increase digestive activity, so go slow if youre just starting to eat them. And for newbies, you can cook them like a potato. Or to get the most gut-boosting benefits, shred Jerusalem artichoke raw and add it to salads.
Gum Arabic: Sap From The Acacia Tree
You may not have heard of this superfood, but its a prebiotic and has a substantial amount of fiber.
A 2008 study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that gum arabic increases good bacterial strains, particularly Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.
Also known as acacia fiber, you can stir the powder in water and drink it or take it as a supplement.
Grapes Little Morsels Of Greatness
Of the many berries on your list, grapes* get a special mention. No matter their colour , the flesh, skin, and seeds are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are good for your health.
Grapes contain polyphenols that nourish your good gut bacteria, and even moderate consumption of red wine can benefit your microbiome. On the other hand, these phytonutrients also serve to deter less desirable bugs.
Grapes are easy to add to your daily meals. Add them to a breakfast yogurt, muesli, throw a few in a salad with blue cheese. Of course, you can also add grapes to desserts and pastries, or even with pork, scallops, or chicken. However, they are also perfectly delicious as a snack with no artifice.
* TOP FRUITrecommended to Atlas Microbiome Test users.
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Great Foods For Gut Health
The 100 trillion microorganisms living in your gastrointestinal tract make up the gut microbiome. Building a collection of good bacteria has been linked to fewer health issues ranging from metabolism, arthritis and depression to cancer, cardiovascular disease and lifespan.
Gut health impacts so much more than digestion, says Marisa Moore, RDN. A healthy gut microbiome is important to your overall health.
Case in point: Your immune function. Approximately 70% of the bodys immune cells and tissue are located in the gut, says Anna Binder-McAsey, RD. An imbalanced microbiome may leave you frequently battling sickness, food sensitivities, and increase the likelihood of developing chronic conditions.
Making small changes to the foods you eat can restore your gut to good health. While sugar and processed foods can wreak havoc on the gut microbiome, a healthy diet rich in fiber that includes these 15 foods can restore gut health:
Pectin, the soluble fiber in apples, improves insulin resistance, lowers cholesterol, and slows digestion, helping you feel full. A 2019 study published in Frontiers in Microbiology found pectin is also a prebiotic that promotes the growth of good gut bacteria. Fiber, lots of fiber, is so important for gut health, Moore says.
Originally published December 2019, updated with additional reporting by Jessica Migala in February 2021
Eat More Whole Grains
Whole grains contain a lot of fiber and non-digestible carbs like beta-glucan. These help the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Research suggests that whole grains can promote the growth of Bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, and Bacteroidetes in humans .
Good whole grains to promote healthy gut bacteria include:
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What Causes Gut Bacteria To Become Unbalanced
The diversity of our gut bacteria is established at the very start of our development but can be altered by multiple factors.
Our gut microbiome begins to develop when we are still growing in our mothers womb.
It is very sensitive, and something as small as a baby being delivered vaginally vs being delivered by caesarean can affect which strain of bacteria are dominant in our system.
It then continues to evolve over time to become relatively stable at around 3 years old.1
Ease Indigestion With Stomach
Soothing, aromatic peppermint may help ease indigestion as well as some symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Peppermint oil can be included in many recipes or even tea, but more often is taken as a coated supplement. Digestion tip: Taking peppermint oil for at least four weeks has been shown to significantly reduce IBS symptoms. It appears to work as an antispasmodic, smoothing out and relaxing the bowels.
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It Starts With Goodbye
If you regularly experience bloating, reflux, stomach pain, or bowel irregularity, your gut likely does need some care. A healthcare practitioner literate in GI issues can help you identify the root causes of your distress and map out the first phase of your healing process. This will likely include an elimination diet.
So many different foods trigger people, and there is so much confusion over what gives them digestive distress, says Hilary Boynton, coauthor of The Heal Your GutCookbook. That is what makes an elimination diet so valuable.
Elimination diets often relieve symptoms, but most are not meant to last forever. I do not see these protocols as lifelong ways of eating, says clinical nutritionist Liz Lipski, PhD, author of Digestive Wellness. Instead, it is a therapeutic trial to see if changing your diet makes you feel better, to allow the gut to heal, and to give you diagnostics.
The exceptions, she says, are common allergens, such as gluten, dairy, and eggs. These are more likely to cause long-term trouble for those who cant tolerate them. Giving up these foods can make people feel so much better that its worth the sacrifice.
A Gut Health Refresher
We all know gut healthalso known as the microbiomeis important. And the science proves it. An ever-growing amount of research points to the enormous role your gut plays in overall health and wellbeing. A balanced gut is necessary for proper digestion, but having enough good bacteria also keeps you healthy in other ways. For example, by producing vitamins, supporting the immune system, and fending off harmful bacteria. With more than 70% of your immune system residing in your gut, its worth keeping your gut well-nourished. The good news is, most people can enhance their gut health naturally through diet and proper supplements. Making space in your fridge for the best foods for gut health is definitely worth the effort.
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Risks And Side Effects
Why might fermented foods be bad for you? While they certainly have lots of benefits to offer, one disadvantage of fermented foods is that when you consume too much, especially too quickly, you may deal with some digestive issues. These can include bloating or diarrhea.
Start slowly, and experiment with different kinds to find your favorites.
If you have a sensitive digestive system you may want to start off with a smaller amount, like several tablespoons of kefir or one probiotic capsule a day, and work your way up.
For the greatest fermented foods benefits, try to purchase foods that are organic and contain live and active cultures. This is better than the label made with active cultures.
After fermentation, some poor quality products may be heat-treated, which kills off both good and bad bacteria . Ideally you want to find raw, organic and local products that do not contain lots of sugar or additives.
Tempeh: A Traditional Soy Product Thats Been Eaten For Hundreds Of Years
This fermented soy food is becoming easier to find these days, with more and more eateries offering it on their menus and more stores stocking it on shelves.
A 2014 study in the Polish Journal of Microbiology showed that this popular protein can increase healthy bacteria, including Lactobacillus.
Try eating tempeh on sandwiches, in salads, or as a plant-based bacon alternative. Unlike most fermented foods, however, tempeh should be thoroughly cooked before you eat it. And most people find that it needs a lot of seasonings to taste good because plain tempeh can be a bit bitter and very bland.
As with all soy products, choosing organic is best if you can.
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Life After The Meal Plan
Find more recipes on our site
Your journey doesnt end after 7 days of Mediterranean-style recipes that help with gut health. Its about finding recipes that can become staples in your household and creating eating habits that actually last.
Start a 28 Day Mediterranean Diet Plan for Gut Health
Weve created a 4-week Mediterranean diet meal plan that follows the same format as this 7-day meal plan pdf. In it contains four weeks of meal plans, recipes, shopping lists and prep guides all available in digital format.
We would like to take a moment to note that this post is for information purposes only. It does not claim to provide medical advice or to be able to treat any medical condition. It makes no claims in respect to weight loss, either in terms of the amount or rate at which weight loss could be achieved. If you have any concerns regarding your health please contact your medical practitioner before making changes.
Apples Just Eat One Per Day
Apples* are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that keep your body in optimal shape. Studies show that eating apples regularly can improve heart health, maintain healthy body weight, and help prevent chronic diseases, like diabetes type II.
This fruit is rich in pectin, a type of soluble prebiotic fiber that nourishes good gut bacteria and helps them make short-chain fatty acids . These molecules influence appetite, weight gain, gut lining health, and the immune system. Pectin is also important for regular bowel movements and preventing constipation.
Adding apples to the diet is easy as they go well almost with any type of food sweet or savoury. Eat an apple as a snack, add it to fruit salads, bake with a duck, serve with pork, or make an apple strudel. You can even ferment it with cabbage to make sauerkraut, which is a probiotic food.
* TOP FRUITrecommended to to Atlas Microbiome Test users.
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Apples: An Apple A Day Keeps The Doc Away
Maybe the easiest fruit to find, apples are an excellent dietary addition.
They are high in fiber. And, a 2014 study in Food Chemistry found green apples boost good gut bacteria.
Eat apples raw as a snack. Or you can even enjoy them stewed. Stewed apples have been found to be good for your microbiome, and they may also help to heal your gut.
When buying apples, choose organic if possible because apples are on the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen list of produce with the most pesticides.
Ways To Improve Your Gut Bacteria Based On Science
There are around 40 trillion bacteria in your body, most of which are found in your gut.
Collectively, they are known as your gut microbiome, and theyre incredibly important for overall health. However, certain types of bacteria in your intestines can also contribute to many diseases.
Many factors, including the foods you eat, can impact the type of bacteria found in your digestive tract.
Here are 9 science-based ways to improve your gut bacteria.
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Kiwis The Fruit With Edible Skin
This hairy brown egg originated in China, despite its association with New Zealand. Little known this side of the southern hemisphere is that the kiwi peel is edible! And as you already know, much of this superfruits benefits come from the skin. In fact, kiwifruit skin is a source of folate, vitamin E, and fiber.
One cup of kiwi will max out your daily recommended intake of vitamin C . This tiny fruit contains prebiotic fibers that even enhance the abundance of probiotic Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus , as well as butyrate-producingFaecalibacterium hat help protect the gut and keep the microbiome balanced.
Mix it up a bit with kiwi bread or homemade kiwi sorbet. Try your hand at kiwi chutney or make kiwi ice pops for the hot summer months. Of course, its also a great addition to your daily green smoothie and fruit salads.
* TOP FRUITrecommended to Atlas Microbiome Test users.
Certain Strains Of Probiotics Can Treat Digestive Issues And Other Disorders
In her practice, Shustina said she commonly saw patients with irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is a disorder that affects 10 to 15% of adults and causes diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Shustina said some of the probiotic strains used to treat IBS were lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, lactobacillus plantarum, and bifidobacterium bifidum.
Certain probiotic strains can help people who are taking antibiotics to treat an infection. That’s because as they try to kill the bad bugs causing the sickness, antibiotics can inadvertently kill off the “good bugs” that live in our body, too. Reintroducing the saccharomyces boulardii organism can mitigate those side effects.
Probiotics can also alleviate the symptoms of eczema, a common skin condition that causes red, itchy flare-ups. Shustina said lactobacillus species of probiotics, particularly lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, could help people with eczema.
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Fluids Partner With Fiber To Help With Flow
Fluids play an essential role in partnership with fiber to get solids through your system. In fact, one of the easiest digestive tips to follow is to stay hydrated throughout the day. Water is a great choice to speed digestion, but almost any fluid will do. Be careful with caffeinated beverages and sodas if you have reflux they can be triggers for heartburn, and caffeine acts as a diuretic, causing fluid loss.
Probiotics And Prebiotics: Two Gut
These two terms probiotics and prebiotics are becoming more widely known, so youve probably heard them.
Probiotics are beneficial good gut bugs. And prebiotics are food for these bacteria.
You can get both probiotics and prebiotics by eating the right foods.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods, as well as in some supplements. And prebiotics are found in certain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The most central prebiotic of all is fiber.
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What Happens In The Gut
The gut is a nine-metre-long tube that starts at the mouth, moves from the oesophagus to the stomach, through the small and large intestines, and ends at the back passage.
Its where digestion takes place, and this involves three important processes:
Kale To Kimchi: 12 Foods That Are Good For Gut Health
The contents of your shopping basket can have a huge impact on your wellbeing, so stock up on the items which can help to promote digestion and a healthy gut
Weâve probably never been more aware of how the groceries we choose affect our health. Who among us hasnât tried to resist the lure of the cake aisle? The connection between food and wellbeing seems particularly salient when it comes to gut health. And, it turns out, by making simple changes to our diet, we can start to take care of our tummies. Try popping some of the items listed below into your shopping basket and see if you notice a difference.
PotatoesPile plenty of potatoes into your shopping bag, but resist peeling them because their skins contain fibre. Fibre helps to maintain a healthy digestive system, passing through our small intestine without being broken down. The UK government recommends we aim for 30g of fibre a day, although British adults manage to eat only about 19g on average. Potatoes are also a source of resistant starch, a form of starch that canât be digested in the small intestine and so is classified as a type of fibre. This, too, may aid gut health.
Bulgur wheatIf youâre bored of potatoes but need something on the side, this wholewheat grain is your friend. It comes in four sizes, from fine to very coarse, and is great as a basis for salads. Mix it with anything from tomatoes and cucumber to parsley and lettuce, for a tasty side dish.
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Get Gut Fit With Fibre
When we want to improve our gut function, the first port of call should be fibre: “Fibre is like a personal trainer for the gut. It helps to exercise the gut muscles and keep things running smoothly,” says Kaitlin Colucci, specialist dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. “Fibre-rich food such as beans, pulses, lentils, nuts and seeds help to feed the trillions of gut bacteria living in our large intestine. The microbiota break down fibre through fermentation, producing things like fatty acids that help heart and kidney health. The roughage left over forms the bulk of our stool.”
A good dose of fibre is essential for ensuring our digestive tract has what it needs to function well. “The best way to ensure you get enough fibre is to eat as many ‘plants’ as possible,” advises Medlin. “This doesn’t mean cutting out meat, but ensuring we have plenty of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, nuts and seeds in our diet.” There are lots of small, easy changes you can make to your diet to up your fibre intake.