How To Support Gut Health

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What Are The Best Foods For Gut Health

Foods to Support Gut Health Series: Turmeric

To summarize, here are some of the best foods for gut health:

  • Fiber. Think whole grains, beans and legumes, and whole fruits and veggies.
  • Fermented foods. Sauerkrat, kimchi, tempeh, kimchi, miso, kefir, pickles.
  • Greens. Dandelion greens, broccoli, asparagus, seaweed.
  • Roughage: Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, flaxseed.
  • Fruits. Bananas, apples.
  • Also: garlic and gum arabic.

Thirteen Ways To Improve Gut Health: Research

Gut health has a huge impact on our overall health and wellbeing. It has links with a wide variety of health problems, affecting not just our digestion, but also our mental health, our quality of sleep, even the health of our skin.

This means its vital to treat our gut well, keeping it healthy and working to improve it where necessary. Luckily, weve put together a list of thirteen research-backed tips that will help you improve your gut health.

Want To Understand The Importance Of Gut Health

If you care about your health, knowing how to look after your gut is crucial.

When you hear about gut health, you might think about conditions like IBS, constipation and diarrhoea. These are all uncomfortable gut symptoms that you want to avoid if you dont have them, or get rid of them if you do.

But your gut affects the rest of you too.

Symptoms like fatigue, anxiety and sleep disturbances can be indications that all might not be well with your gut, as well as more serious conditions like:

  • rheumatoid arthritis

Its important to remember that research has found links between these diseases and changes in the gut, which means that were not yet sure what comes first, the gut issues or the disease.

We do know that theres an intimate connection between the gut, the brain, and the microbes in our gut, that we call the microbiota-gut-brain axis. The gut and the brain communicate with each other, so emotions can impact the gut, while the gut produces neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA that may influence mood and wellbeing.

In one mouse study, a probiotic called L. Rhamnosus caused chemical changes in the brain by reducing stress hormones . This particular piece of research showed that gut bacteria can have a direct effect on behaviour through the vagus nervethe large nerve that runs from your large intestine to your brain.

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Ways To Have A Healthy Gut

Human beings have known for a long time that good health begins in the gut. But it took until the turn of the millennium until science could begin to help us explore the incredible ecosystem inside us all.

For many years, scientists studied gut bacteria by extracting them from faecal samples and growing them in lab dishes. But in the mid-2000s, DNA sequencing allowed us to discover nearly all the bacteria in our guts much more easily. Scientists are also working out ways to view the other microbessuch as yeasts, protozoa and virusesmore quickly too.

What were finding out about our guts and the microbes that live there is now transforming the way we see our bodies, brains and lives.

Dont Believe Everything You See Or Hear

Nutrition to Support Optimal Gut Health

You may have come across a range of different fads and trends all promising better gut health on your social media feeds. Try not to get sucked into everything you see across Instagram and Facebook. From colon cleanses to manuka honey remedies, nothing beats a varied wholefood diet.

Prioritising gut health shouldnt cost the earth and be wary of anyone selling expensive supplements which promise to instantly fix your gut. There are many cheap and easy recipes that are far more beneficial to your gut than anything sold on the internet.

To recap, if youre looking at how to improve your gut health, there are easy, cost effective ways you can do so. A good place to start is to action the following steps:

  • Add more high fiber foods into your daily diet
  • Keep stress levels down by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and practicing mindfulness
  • Dont believe all the fads you see on social media. Take time to do the research yourself and if in doubt see a trusted health professional like your GP or a dietician
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    Getting The Fiber You Need

    While there are two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble , its the insoluble fiber that plays a big role in keeping food moving through the digestive tract, and helps with regularity because its not digested by the body. Most foods with fiber contain both types, so you dont need to worry about choosing. And fiber is abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as whole-grain starches like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, bran cereals, potatoes and corn. Legumes like beans and lentils are also great sources.

    Eat A Wide Range Of Healthy Foods

    A diet made up of several different food types can lead to a more diverse microbiome that is made up of more species, according to a review published in the journal Molecular Metabolism. This, Dr. Lee explains, strengthens our microbiome and enhances its resiliency.

    The best foods for gut health are fruits, vegetables, legumes , nuts, seeds, and whole grains, especially those highest in fiber, which help your digestive tract work properly. Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day and men should aim for 38 grams per day, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

    And cut back on unhealthy foods. The more grease, fat, and salt you eat, the worse your gut health will be, says Scott David Lippe, M.D., chief of gastroenterology at Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus, NJ, and assistant clinical professor of medicine at Rutgers Medical School. This is something to keep in mind especially when youre out to dinner, as restaurants tend to load up on salt, grease, and fat because they taste good.

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    Start Eating Bone Broth

    I know, it may sound weird or gross if you are not familiar with bone broth. But believe me, bone broth tastes great and it is an incredibly nutrient dense food.

    Homemade bone broth is chocked full of minerals, gut-soothing gelatin, and amino acids such as glycine and proline which provide several benefits to your skin and joints. Gelatin is thought to sooth the digestive track and improve nutrient absorption.

    Potentially Affect What You Eat

    Dietitian shares recipes to support your gut health – New Day NW

    You probably already know that what we eat influences our gut bacteria. But did you know that the 1,000 families of bacteria that live in your gut could inform what food we choose to eat? In 2017, neuroscientists found that specific types of gut flora helped fruit flies detect which nutrients were missing in their food and then affected their eating choices to balance any deficits .

    Clearly, humans and fruit flies are pretty different. However research has also found that people who crave chocolate have different microbes in their guts to people who dont, despite eating identical diets .

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    Prebiotic Foods Like Asparagus Bananas And Garlic

    Its not enough to eat plenty of probiotic-rich foodsyou also have to eat foods that help keep these health-promoting microorganisms alive.

    Thats where certain types of soluble fiber called prebiotics come in. Think of them as nutrient-dense food for your healthy gut microbes when you eat prebiotic foods, you effectively feed the good bacteria that keeps your gut in balance.

    Prebiotic foods contain compounds, such as fructooligosaccharides, inulin and galactooligosaccharides, which are types of soluble dietary fiber. Prebiotics act as fuel for specific bacteria in the gut, thus having the ability to promote the creation of more good bacteria, says Romano.

    Good prebiotic foods include:

    Gut Health Hacks That Work

    You can nurture a diverse gut microbiome for good gut health without supplements, fortified foods or microbiome tests. Experts say these six everyday strategies work:

    1. Eat fermented foods regularly

    People who had fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, the yogurt-like drink kefir or kombucha daily for 10 weeks increased the diversity of their gut microbiome in an August 2021 Stanford University study. But study participants who ate more high-fiber foods saw no increase in diversity, a finding that shocked the researchers, according to Wastyk, colead author of the study. No one expected the fermented foods group to have that response, she says. Everyone was like, ‘What the heck?’

    Even more surprising: Just 10 percent of the good bacteria found in the fermented foods actually took up residence in participants gut. Wastyk thinks fermented foods may increase diversity by knocking the microbiome a little off-balance, giving small colonies of existing bacteria a chance to grow. Wastyk suggests finding several fermented foods you enjoy and having some daily. Look for yogurt with live, active cultures and for foods that havent been heat-processed, which would kill off the bacteria, she adds.

    2. Eat a wider variety of produce

    3. Toast your good bugs with a mug of tea or coffee

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    How The Immune System And Gut Are Connected

    Amazingly, its estimated that within the body there are slightly more microorganisms than there are human cells, mostly concentrated within the GI tract.

    Its now believed that overall gut health can contribute to overall health. This is why maintaining the integrity of the gut as well as overall gut health are crucial aspects of health.

    The presence of bacteria, specifically the good guys kind called probiotics, plays a role between the gut microbiota and immune system.

    What are probiotics? They are microorganisms introduced into the body for their beneficial qualities. They help to balance the ratio of bad guy bacteria and good guy bacteria.

    How does gut bacteria support a healthy immune system exactly?

    • Probiotic supplements and foods contain good guy bacteria that populate your gut and support its health.

    • Certain gut bacteria can impact how your body extracts nutrients from your diet, including vital minerals and nutrients like zinc, iron and vitamin B12.

    • Generally speaking, some microbes influence gene expression, either positively or negatively.

    • And because there are pathways between the central nervous system and microbiome that send signals back and forth to one another, your gut flora can affect how you produce neurotransmitters, which impacts your energy, outlook and sleep.

    Restore Your Healthy Gut Bacteria

    The 4

    Your gut is teeming with tens of trillions of microorganisms 65% of which are completely unique to you. Some of the bacteria are essential for digesting food, while other types are actually harmful to your body. When the balance of helpful and harmful bacteria gets tipped in the wrong direction, a lot of healthissues can follow.

    Antibiotics are one of the biggest culprits of destroying the delicate balance of bacteria in your gut. Every time you swallow an antibiotic, you kill the beneficial bacteria which gives room for the harmful bacteria to grow.

    When this happens, harmful yeasts, such as the infamous Candida albicans, grow freely and can eventually take over. Candida overgrowths can cause a range of health problems including weight gain, fatigue, joint pain, and leaky gut syndrome .

    This is why I usually avoid antibiotics if possible. If its a serious infection and I have to take antibiotics , I am always sure to supplement with a quality probiotic supplement . Even if you are not currently on an antibiotic, you may want to take a probiotic for some time to restore the helpful bacteria in your gut.

    You can try to buy or make your own fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchee. Fermented drinks such as kombucha or kefir drinks are also a great way to easily give your gut a digestive boost.

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    Stress Can Change Your Gut Take Time To Unwind

    There is a relationship between what you eat, your gut, and your mental health and wellbeing. So how exactly does food affect your mood and how can you feed your happiness? You can learn more in our recent article, Which foods help make you happy?

    Food isnt the only factor to consider when keeping stress levels down. Exercise, sleep and mindfulness also play a key role.

    Aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, either in one hit or broken up into short intervals throughout the day. For more information on the benefits of exercise and tips on how to establish exercise into your daily routine check out our recent article published here

    When it comes to sleep, aiming to get around 8 to 9 hours of sleep will ensure your body gets long term benefits. If youre interested in what the benefits of sleep are or youve been struggling with sleep, it might also like to read another recent article, Why sleep is so important here.

    Future Areas Of Research

    The microbiome is a living dynamic environment where the relative abundance of species may fluctuate daily, weekly, and monthly depending on diet, medication, exercise, and a host of other environmental exposures. However, scientists are still in the early stages of understanding the microbiomes broad role in health and the extent of problems that can occur from an interruption in the normal interactions between the microbiome and its host.

    Some current research topics:

    • How the microbiome and their metabolites influence human health and disease.
    • What factors influence the framework and balance of ones microbiome.
    • The development of probiotics as a functional food and addressing regulatory issues.

    Specific areas of interest:

    • Factors that affect the microbiome of pregnant women, infants, and the pediatric population.
    • Manipulating microbes to resist disease and respond better to treatments.
    • Differences in the microbiome between healthy individuals and those with chronic disease such as diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, obesity, cancers, and cardiovascular disease.
    • Developing diagnostic biomarkers from the microbiome to identify diseases before they develop.
    • Alteration of the microbiome through transplantation of microbes between individuals .

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    What Is A Healthy Gut Diet Plan

    A healthy gut diet plan is different for everyone. The advice youll find on how to get a healthy gut in the UK will be different to the information youd find in China, for instance. However, there are common features across most cultures. A good way to think about the right diet for your gut and general health is to look at what weve been eating for the 200,000 years weve been human, instead of the last 200, oreven worsethe last 20.

    Heres where to start:

    Good Gut Bugs And How To Get Them

    Foods to Support Gut Health Series: Capsaicin

    Positive bacteria are often called healthy gut bugs.

    Good gut bugs help your body digest and absorb nutrients, synthesize certain vitamins, and rally against intruders, such as the flu and toxic-forming carcinogens.

    In the wise words of David Perlmutter, MD: A healthy microbiome translates into a healthy human.

    So how can you keep your digestive system feeling good and functioning optimally? What are the best foods for gut health? Think fiber, fermentation, and nutrient-dense foods.

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    Flaxseed: A Tiny But Tremendous Seed For Your Gut

    Thanks to its wealth of phytonutrient precursors, this powerhouse seed creates the highest content of lignans of all foods used for human consumption. Flaxseed fuels your good gut flora.

    These seeds contain soluble fiber and can help improve digestive regularity.

    Eat ground flaxseed sprinkled on smoothie bowls or salads. But be sure to choose freshly ground flaxseed or to grind it fresh yourself because whole flax seeds pass through your body without being digested.

    Also, know that flaxseed goes rancid quickly. Buying whole seeds and grinding them in small batches yourself as well as storing them in the fridge or freezer is best.

    Eat More Fruits And Vegetables

    You dont need to be vegetarian or vegan to have a healthy gut, but eating more plants can help. Fruits and vegetables are generally rich in fiber, which is the key fuel for your gut bugs.

    Many plant-based foods also contain polyphenols. These compounds are not easily absorbed through your intestines, so they move along your gut to the large intestine, where most of your gut bacteria live.

    Here, microbes feed on polyphenols. In the process, they convert them into a variety of bioactive compounds.

    Scientists have shown that polyphenols have a range of health benefits likely due to their interaction with your gut bugs.

    Importantly, there’s also evidence that polyphenols support good gut bacteria while inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria.

    So, having more polyphenol-containing fruits and vegetables will help keep your gut microbiome happy.

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    How Much Exercise Do You Need For A Healthy Gut

    The UK government advises 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, like cycling, running or brisk walking, each week for adults.

    They also recommend strength-training for example yoga, dance, gardening or lifting weights on two or more days a week.

    Try to avoid long periods of sitting still, breaking it up with activity.30,31

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    How To Support Your ‘good’ Gut Bugs

    Healthy Gut Support

    The trillions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and other microbes in your digestive tract make up your gut microbiome. The composition of that microbiome is unique to you.

    A healthy gut contains a wide variety of bacteria.

    At ZOE, we run the largest nutritional study of its kind. Among other findings, we identified 15 good gut bugs linked to positive health outcomes and 15 bad bugs linked to poor health outcomes.

    We asked Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, a board-certified gastroenterologist and ZOEs U.S. medical director, a simple question: Whats the best thing you can do to improve your gut health? He responded:

    If there’s one thing, and one thing only, that you do to improve your gut health, it’s eating a wider variety of plant foods.

    But there are actually many ways to support your good bugs and suppress bad bugs.

    Below, we outline 16 foods and lifestyle changes you can try today.

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