Is your gut health not what it should be? Do you get constipated or have diarrhea? How about flatulence, is that a problem? Do you poop only a couple of days a week? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your gut is not healthy. A healthy gut influences our overall health. You can think of your gut as the workhorse of your body. It helps eliminate toxins, keeps your immune system functioning optimally and there are studies that a healthy gut can promote a healthy brain and memory.
Since the gut is such a critical part of our overall health, it is important to help it work optimally. Before we get into the foods that can health your gut health, let's look at the reason the gut becomes dysfunctional. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is the number one reason why our gut health is compromised. Americans typically eat processed foods, a lot of meat and few vegetables and fruits.
Processed foods promise a quick and easy meal but typically contain chemicals or ingredients that wreak havoc with our system. Ingredients such as artificial food coloring's, sodium nitrate, artificial sweeteners and sodium benzonate, are put into foods to make them taste better so we will buy them. The chemicals that are added can convert to a carcinogen, promote inflammation and may aggravate allergies.
Eating a lot of meat is generally bad for our health. Meat is laden with fat, which can raise cholesterol and lead to heart disease. Conventionally grown meat is laden with antibiotics, which is contributing to antibiotic resistance. Eating meat is not always bad but when we eat meat that has not been farm raised humanely and without antibiotics, we are not setting up our digestive health for success. Especially when our plates are filled with more meat and few vegetables.
Eating organic foods helps the gut heal. By eliminating chemicals and pesticides from entering our bodies as best as we can, our gut can heal. Chemicals and pesticides confuse our digestive system. It tries to break them down and process them out of the body. While some can be excreted, not all of it is. What stays in the body hurts systems such as the digestive tract. By changing how you eat, you can help restore your gut back to health. In fact, the cells of the digestive tract reproduce overnight in about 4-6 hours. This means if you start eating foods that can support a healthy gut, you can start feeling better very quickly.
If you eat the below foods consistently, you will have more regularity, a stronger immune system and provide benefits to your brain health. Try to eat organic whenever you can to help eliminate the harm pesticides and chemicals can do to the digestive tract.
1) Apples contain soluble and insoluble fiber helping to relieve constipation and diarrhea . The soluble fiber and insoluble fiber work together to bulk up the stool but make it soft and easy to eliminate. So the saying is true: an apple a day keeps the doctor away!
2) Pineapple is full of bromelain, an important enzyme that promotes healthy digestion. It is also an anti-inflammatory. Pineapple should be eaten alone in between meals. Otherwise, the enzyme will work to digest the food it is eaten with.
3) Almonds are concentrated in dietary fiber and contain probiotics which helps with digestion, detoxification and promotes healthy bacteria in the gut. (Source: Dr. Axe) Eating almond butter is a great alternative to eating raw almonds. However, make sure to find products that do not have added sugars.
4) Quinoa not only contains insoluble fiber like apples, but it also has Thiamine (B1) and Glutamine. Thiamine is essential for the production of hydrochloric acid. Glutamine is the primary source of energy for the cells in the intestinal tract and keeps the lining healthy. (Source: Livestrong)
5) Asparagus contains inulin which helps promote good bacteria in our gut. When we have a large amount of good bacteria in the gut, bad bacteria have a hard time colonizing. This keeps our digestive tract happy.
6) Basil is an anti-inflammatory which means diseases such as inflammatory bowel conditions benefit from its healing properties. Plus, it is antimicrobial which will protect you from bacteria such as E-coli.
7) Ginger has been shown to speed up emptying the stomach of people who have chronic indigestion. Plus, ginger helps lower the risk of infections and inhibit the growth of different types of bacteria making it beneficial to supporting the health of the digestive tract. (Source: Healthline)
8) Avocado is packed with fiber and essential nutrients, avocados promote healthy digestive function and is less likely to cause gas. (Source: Hopkins Medicine)
9) Blueberries are a great source of dietary fiber, blueberries promote healthy elimination. Blueberries also contain tannins which reduces inflammation in the digestive tract that causes loose bowel movements.
10) Broccoli contains phytonutrients that can eliminate the bacteria responsible for peptic ulcers. One study found that by eating broccoli every day for two months can markedly decrease stomach damage.
11) Spinach is high in fiber and water content which helps prevent constipation and promotes a healthy digestive tract.
12) Banana's protect the stomach from ulcers and ulcerative damage. They help the stomach lining to produce thicker protective mucus barrier against stomach acids. Also, they help eliminate the bacteria that causes ulcers.
13) Oats are known for healing the lining of the small intestine and keeping the immune system healthy. If you are gluten-intolerant, the immune system tends to be reactive. Eating oats solves for the overactive immune response.
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Note: Information on the healthiest foods for our gut also came from The World's Healthiest Foods.