With all of the pumpkin spice products being sold right now, I got to thinking, could pumpkin support a healthy gut? After all Medical News Today states that pumpkin supports a healthy heart due to its high fiber, potassium and vitamin C content. All of these nutrients help regulate blood pressure. Plus, pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, just like carrots, which may help prevent prostate cancer. Since pumpkin is already known to keep other parts of the body healthy, why couldn't it help support a healthy gut? The key nutrients that pumpkin is high in such as folate (folic acid), fiber, potassium and vitamin C all play a role in a healthy gut.
#1: Fiber is the most important nutrient to keep the gut healthy. Fiber helps keep the digestive tract flowing by keeping bowel movements soft and regular. When eating more fiber, it is imperative that you drink more water. Bowel movements are waste and water. Without water, constipation occurs. A good rule of thumb for how much water to drink everyday is half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 100 pounds, drink 50 ounces of water everyday to help keep things moving.
#2: While most people think of taking vitamin C to keep their immune system healthy during cough cold or allergy season, it also supports a healthy gut. How? Vitamin C keeps teeth and gums healthy. Our digestive system starts with chewing our food. Chewing food slowly, so the food is broken down into small particles helps the rest of the digestive tract continue the process.
When we eat quickly and swallow large chunks of food, it can cause indigestion and acid reflux because the rest of our body is being asked to do the job of our teeth. Another benefit of chewing food slowly is our saliva excretes enzymes which also helps break down food particles and gets them ready for digestion. Pumpkin is high in Vitamin C making it a perfect way to ensure your gut is healthy.
#3: Pumpkin is high in folate, which is a B vitamin that helps digestion. It can help ease or prevent constipation by stimulating the formation of digestive acids. As we age, it gets harder for our bodies to produce digestive acids. This causes trouble for our digestive system because we need the acid to help breakdown food. When our digestive acids have been low, eating foods high in folate, such as pumpkin, can help speed up digestion and move stool through the colon.
Pumpkin is part of the winter squash family which also contains butternut squash and acorn squash. I wish I had time to cook squash because it is really great stuffed with a quinoa, spinach and dried cranberries. But I don't. So I have to rely on canned pumpkin when I want to cook with pumpkin. Pumpkins are nutrient dense making it a great substitute for butter or oil in recipes. However, make sure to use pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling - which will have added sugars and syrup.
Below are some really great pumpkin recipes. I am going to have a hard time picking which ones to make so I think I will have to try them all!
Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Rolls. WOW! This is a yeast based recipe so you need time to be able to get it all together but what a great idea! The recipe says they freeze well. I can imagine serving this with roast beef or roasted chicken. Click here for the recipe.
Pumpkin Granola Bars. I like making snack bars so I can control the amount of sugar that are in them. These are Gluten-free and dairy-free, this recipe combines pumpkin puree with oats and all the spices to make you crave this snack on any chilly autumn day. Click here for the recipe.
Chipotle Pumpkin Veggie Burgers. This has lunch-time written all over it. This recipe is vegan as it uses a flax egg as the binder. Plus, the recipe states they are easy to freeze. If you are gluten-free or just watching carb intake, serve this over a mixed green salad. The recipe also suggests a chipotle mayo and smashed avocado for toppings. Click here for the recipe.
Pumpkin Risotto. Creamy, rich and savory. A great meatless dinner for any cool evening complimented with a mixed green salad. Risotto is a labor of love but so worth it. Use vegetable broth to cook the risotto and skip the butter to make this vegan. This recipe calls for diced pumpkin. Click here for the recipe.
Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi. Who doesn't love Gnocchi? This recipe uses pumpkin puree and reminds us that Gnocchi needs to be boiled in small batches. The ricotta helps to keep the gnocchi fluffy and light. Top with some fried sage and dinner is served! Click here for the recipe.
I hope this post inspires you to incorporate pumpkin into your healthy living routine this fall. Especially if you are working on restoring your gut health. If you have been diagnosed with a digestive health disorder such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or Colitis, or you just know something is not right with your gut health, book a call with me today.
I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist specializing in helping people like you overcome digestive health issues.
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