We’ve got a gut feeling you’ll want to add these to your diet.
In recent years, there has been a lot of research done on gut health and how it affects your overall well-being — from your heart to your muscles. Although there is much more research to be done, we do know that there are certain foods you can eat that can help your gut health. Here’s a rundown of seven gut healthy foods and why they should be on your shopping list.
A LOOK AT THE HUMAN GUT
The human gut has about 100 trillion microbial cells, which is about 10 times more than the rest of the human body. These microbial cells include bacteria, viruses, fungi, archae, and eurokaryotes, and are collectively known as the microbiome. Researchers are studying these microbes to see how their genes may affect human health.
Your microbiome starts to develop after you’re born. By the age of 3, a toddler’s microbiome is similar to an adult’s. Your gut is composed of helpful and harmful microorganisms, specifically bacteria. Some of the bacteria are good, helping to breakdown food and some are harmful, causing illness. The digestive tract can handle a certain number of microorganisms at a time. By eating foods with live, active cultures that act as probiotics, you can add gut-friendly bacteria and reduce the number of harmful bacteria. Probiotics are fueled by prebiotics that are derived from carbohydrates that can’t be digested by humans. To maintain gut health, you should eat a combination of foods that provide both prebiotics and probiotics.
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This fermented food is a staple in Korean cuisine and is made from fermented vegetables like cabbage, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, salt and fish sauce. Through fermentation, probiotics are formed, which helps with gut health. Other health benefits include helping relieve diarrhea and constipation and helping to boost your immune system. In addition, kimchi provides the antioxidant vitamin C and fiber, which many folks don’t get enough of.
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Artichokes are a gut-friendly food because of the high amount of prebiotic fiber they provide. According to Florida-based dietitian Laurel Deininger, MS, RD, CDE, “One medium artichoke has 50% of your daily fiber needs.” Plus, the prebiotic-rich artichokes provide food for our gut bacteria. Enjoy steamed artichokes as an appetizer or toss canned artichokes into your salad.
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When purchasing yogurt (Greek yogurt or traditional yogurt) look for live, active cultures in the ingredient list. Look for names like lactobacillus, streptococcus, and bifidobacterrium. These are the good bacteria that can help with gut health including helping alleviate diarrhea or constipation and helping to enhance the body’s immune system.
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“Not only does this probiotic food help create beneficial bacteria in the gut, it adds that sought after umami flavor to foods,” explains Erin McNamara, RDN LDN, CLT, owner or Erin Dishes Nutrition. “It’s also a good source of other nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin K, copper, phosphorus and manganese.” McNamara adds it to cheese sauce, a marinade with soy sauce and rice vinegar, or uses it in an Asian-inspired salad dressing with sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and rice vinegar.
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Both registered dietitians Sarah Pflugradt, MS, RD, owner of Sarah Pflugradt Nutrition, and Melissa Nieves, LND, RD, MPH, of Fad Free Nutrition Blog, agree that onions are good for gut health. Pflugradt says onions “are extremely versatile vegetables that help feed the bacteria in your gut, which helps promote growth.” The diversity and number of good bacteria is the key to a healthy guts and “eating prebiotic foods, like onions, have been shown to increase the levels of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus,” Pflugradt explains. In addition, Nieves says that research shows that “onions are rich in inulin (a non-digestible, prebiotic fiber) and fructo-oligosaccharides, which can strengthen gut flora, helps with fat breakdown and supports the immune system by increasing nitric oxide production in cells.”
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“One of my favorite sources of naturally occurring probiotics is kefir, a fermented milk beverage that is made with a culture of yeasts and bacteria,” says registered dietitian nutritionist, Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN, creator of Solve Picky Eating and author of Simple & Safe Baby-Led Weaning. When shopping for kefir, Malkani says to look for products labeled with “live and active cultures,” to ensure that they do include probiotics and choose brands that contain the smallest amounts of added sugars. Plain, unsweetened kefir tastes amazing in smoothies and/or mixed with pureed fruit.
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Under Ripe or Green Bananas
“Unlike yellow ripe bananas, green bananas are naturally high in resistant starch – the important type of prebiotic fiber that feeds our gut bacteria to keep them healthy,” says Caitlin Beale, MS, RDN, owner at Caitlin Beale Wellness. As bananas ripen, the starch composition changes and they lose the high levels of resistant starch. Beale says that while you may not want to eat them alone (they can be bitter), green bananas are easy to freeze and put in smoothies to boost the prebiotic content.
Author: Toby Amidor
Source: Muscle And Fitness: 7 GUT HEALTHY FOODS