Guest Post By: Lorna Frances
We hear so much about gut health these days, that it’s certainly a talking point of interest. Of course, this could be contributed to by the fact that we all live such stressful lives, and stress plays a big part in gut malfunctions and conditions. Irritable bowl syndrome might not be caused by stress at its very core, but stress certainly exacerbates it, and makes matters worse.
Whether you think you’re living a stressful life or not, it’s certainly worthwhile having a sit down and real think about whether you can reduce the amount of stress you currently have in your life. In addition to that, it’s about changing your diet too.
Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t rocket science, but the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming. We can simplify it down and make it really easy – you basically need to eat as much fresh clean food as you can, avoid processed, fatty foods, and exercise regularly. In addition to that, don’t smoke, drink only in moderation, stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep!
Of course, a lot of it does come down to the things you eat, and there are certain foods which are super-advantageous and beneficial for your gut. Some are high profile, and you’ll probably already know about them, but some might fly a little under the radar. Let’s talk about five of the most underrated foods you need to know about, to ensure positive gut health.
If you know anything about probiotics, you’ll know that sauerkraut is one of the best foods you can eat to boost your gut health. Did you know that sauerkraut comes from the cabbage family and is actually a form of the vegetable? Any type of cabbage is great for you, and you can easily incorporate it into your diet. Cabbage is high in L-glutamine, which gives the cells in your gut the energy they need to do their work and to prevent any gastric upsets from occurring, whilst helping you absorb vitamins and minerals. In addition to this, L-glutamine is a neurotransmitter to the brain, which encourages relaxation and good mood.
An apple a day! Yes, it’s true. An apple a day can be wonderful for your health and it can be wonderful for your gut too. The advantage of an apple lies in the combination of vitamins and fiber contained within it. An apple doesn’t contain a huge amount of fiber per se, but it also contains other things which are super beneficial, such as soluble fiber, and phytonutrients.
It is super-easy to incorporate apples into your day, simply munch away as a snack by throwing on in your bag, and forsake the chocolate bar or bag of crisps!
The thing which the gut loves about apples is something called polyphenols. These have a direct reduction of any inflammation in the gut and intestines, whilst also having probiotic features too. The result is an increase in bifidobacteria, which is all the good stuff you need!
The milk version of kefir is the ideal option for great gut health, and you can usually find this in probiotic drinks, the type that you have once more day.
Kefir is a wonder drink for the gut, and it contains a huge amount of different types of good bacteria, including the famous lactobacillus species. These are basically the types of bacteria which you gut loves and needs. Kefir works to coat the digestive tract in a mucous layer and this gives the good bacteria a basis on which to colonise and do its good work. Kefir is both prebiotic and probiotic!
In addition, Kefir contains many different other nutrients, as well as potassium and plentiful calcium. When you drink it alone however, it can taste a little on the sour side, so it’s best to mix it with something, perhaps adding it to your morning smoothie.
If you love Asian food, you’re in for a treat! Kimchi is actually a meal, rather than a food itself, but it is something you should chow down on to grab some serious gut health benefits. A little like sauerkraut in its benefits line, kimchi is actually a mixture of garlic, chilli, peppers, scallions, spices and cabbage, which all work together for a true taste sensation. Aside form the deliciousness of it, kimchi is a fermented food, and we know that these are fantastic for their probiotic elements.
By helping to enhance the amount of good bacteria in the gut, studies show that kimchi helps to reduce inflammation, soothes any current conditions and helps to improve them, reduces bloating and has a whole host of other benefits too. If you don’t like your food too spicy, you can omit the red pepper and still grab the same advantages for your gut.
Finally we have one of the most beneficial foods you need to incorporate into your diet for your overall gut health – resistant starch. This is not digested by the human body, so it is left to do its good work instead. Resistant starch passes through the body to the colon and it is fermented there, helping to reduce inflammation and increase overall wellbeing.
You can get your intake of resistant starch by chowing down on lentils, beans, wholegrains peas and very starchy foods.
The fermentation process of resistant starch helps to create cells that congregate and line along the wall of the gut, where they can help to reduce that inflammation we just mentioned and work to reduce any disharmony that may have been there before.
These are five foods you need to add to your dietary roster, for the good of your gut health!