Your gut is made up of more than just your stomach and intestines. In fact, a whole host of reactions and movements are necessary for your body to digest, absorb and excrete what you eat. When any of the required motions are compromised, that is when your gut health can take a turn for the worse. Making matters worse, the digestive system is now known to regulate your mind and immune system. If your gut is not healthy, the rest of your body can suffer.
It is easy to tell when your gut is not working optimally. You may have diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, brain fog, fatigue and frequent colds. Another sign that something is not right with your gut is when you have certain moods or feelings. Most people with gut health issues have mental chatter, feel overwhelmed, are resistant to change, internalize emotions and may be unable to let go. Eating the right foods to help restore your gut and emotional health is key.
Fiber is the number one nutrient necessary to keep your gut healthy. The Food Revolution Network states that only 3% of Americans get the recommended 40 grams of fiber per day. Given the lack of fiber intake, it is easy to see why gut disorders are a common occurrence. Getting enough fiber every day helps the gut stay healthy because the good bacteria in our digestive tract feeds on fiber. When we have enough good bacteria in our bodies, illness and disease cannot take over.
How can you get enough fiber? Eating mostly plant-based. While this sounds difficult, it is actually quite easy. You can still eat meat and increase the amount of plants you eat every day. One really easy way is to serve two vegetables at dinner time instead of a low fiber grain, such as pasta or white rice. When you make this easy change, you can get a lot more fiber in just one meal. Another easy way to get more fiber during the day is to have a cup of vegetable soup at lunchtime or have veggies and fruits for snacks. Just by taking these small steps, you can get at least 10 - 20 more grams of fiber per day. Just make sure to drink enough water when increasing fiber intake. Water helps to keep things moving!
As you focus on getting more fiber into your life, eating organic will significantly help heal the gut. Once your gut is compromised, staying away from as many chemicals, pesticides and other environmental pollutants will help support a healthy gut. When I tell people to eat organic they immediately tell me how expensive it is. That is not true anymore! Organic food has become so prevalent that prices are dropping. There are times when I can buy organic vegetables and fruit cheaper than conventionally grown food! It comes down to knowing your prices. Plus, relying on frozen and canned when fresh is not available. If you can commit to eating 80% of each meal with organic food and spices, your gut will thank you!
Spinach Asian Pear & Chicken Salad from Eating Well. This recipe includes a salad dressing that has gut healing ginger in it. Perfect for a warm night.
Salmon and Asparagus Dinner from Eating Well. The asparagus is topped with a lemon-garlic butter sauce. Garlic is a great spice for healing the gut.
Lentil Quinoa Meatballs from Stacey Homemaker. Lentils are high in fiber and quinoa is high in protein. The meatballs can be made on the weekend and then heated up for a quick week night dinner. The recipe calls for sunflower seeds so if you are having issues with seeds, just omit them. The meatballs can also be frozen for future dinners.
Sweet Potato Burgers from Chocolate Covered Katie. The cooked sweet potato is mashed with Cannelini beans to give the burgers a firm texture. Plus, think of all the fiber! Topped with avocado this is a meal that can't wait to make your gut healthy. If you have gluten issues, either use a gluten free roll or forego the bread! I usually eat my burgers on a bed of mixed greens.
Spinach Pesto Quinoa Bowl from Table for Two Blog. This is a quick dinner that can be served as is or a protein such as salmon or chicken can be added. It calls for pre-made pesto but you can always make your own pesto if you like. I love the Simply Organic Sweet Basil Pesto powdered mix. It is quick to cook and tastes great!
Chickpea Lentil Noodle Soup from Wild Greens and Sardines. I love soup for lunch or dinner. It is so satisfying. This soup delivers a lot of fiber from the chickpeas and lentils. Use vegetable broth to make it vegan. If noodles from semolina fiber bothers your gut, you can use gluten-free noodles or simply forego them! Add in more veggies such as zucchini and broccoli.
Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry from Creme de la Crumb. A quick stir-fry that has lots of fiber from the broccoli. You can put it on a bed of brown rice to get more fiber or even quinoa.
Vegetarian Mexican Rice Casserole from Build Your Bite. Mexican dishes are always full of fiber given the use of beans and rice. If you have issues with rice, you can use brown rice, millet or quinoa. I would also omit the cheese since I am lactose intolerant.
Vegetable Lasagna without Noodles from My Life CookBook. Yes - you can have lasagna without noodles. When you omit the noodles, the vegetables take center stage. The lasagna is so hearty and rich you won't even miss the noodles.
Spicy Southwest Butternut Squash Casserole from Jar of Lemons. This recipe has squash and black beans. I would add frozen chopped spinach to add more vegetable power to it!
I hope you enjoyed learning more about foods that can help heal the gut. The most important factors are to increase fiber, drink plenty of clean water and try to avoid chemicals and pesticides as much as possible.
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