Which Foods Support Great Gut Health?
Lori Skurbe, RD
You may have heard in the news that the microbiota in our digestive system (gut), along with the bacteria in our intestines, play a crucial role in our health. We are just beginning to learn how much our gut health impacts our overall health. Having healthy gut bacteria leads to a better immune system and less inflammation. Let’s explore some of the food we can eat, and actions we can take to support our gut health.
Probiotics are the living bacteria found in fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut. They help keep the balance of good bacteria in check so the gut does not get overrun by the bad bacteria. When the gut gets overrun with bad bacteria it can lead to diabetes, weight issues, mood disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.
However, it does not end there, because we must also replenish the good bacteria. You will want to prioritize incorporating these fermented foods into your diet on a daily basis. In addition, you want to “feed” the good bacteria. In order for the health promoting bacteria in our gut to flourish, it needs proper nourishment through the intake of fiber. Fiber which supports gut health is referred to as a “Prebiotic.”
The bacteria in your gut make enzymes that help to break down the fiber. This process creates a substance called short chain fatty acids. It is currently understood that an increase of these fatty acids changes the pH inside the colon, thus making it harder for the bad bacteria to thrive.
Which foods contain prebiotics?
Black beans, bananas, apples, pears, asparagus, kale, collard greens, onions, almonds, soy and whole grains (brown rice, wheat, whole corn). You’ll notice here that these foods are that which health experts encourage people to consume on a regular basis. There are many other health benefits included in eating these foods, as they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Additionally, many of these foods are also low in calories.
What foods decrease gut health?
Diets that contain high amounts of added sugars, high fat and animal meat promote a toxic environment for healthy gut bacteria, thus changing the balance of your gut microbes.
If we want to create a healthy gut, it is important to minimize added sugars, fats and animal protein, and increase the consumption of prebiotics and probiotic foods to ensure we have a healthy digestive system.