More and more research points to the important role your gut plays in your overall health and well-being. In addition to helping you digest food, the ‘good’ microbes that live in your gut help keep you healthy by producing vitamins, supporting the immune system and fending off harmful bacteria. Did you know more than 70% of your immune system resides in your gut? Your gut health is linked to numerous things such as your mood, weight and risk of disease. So what are the best foods to support a healthy gut?
Aim for a minimum of two serves of fruit per day. Keep the skin on wherever possible as it contains a lot of fibre which is food for your good gut bugs and aim for a variety throughout the week. Fruit is a valuable source of fibre and plant chemicals which are beneficial for gut health.
Include a minimum of 5 serves of vegetables per day. Aim for three different colours per main meal to make sure you are getting a variety of nutrients. Fresh or frozen vegetables are completely fine! Try and jazz yours up by making a nice salad dressing with balsamic and extra-virgin olive oil, stir-frying them in sesame oil, onion, garlic and some soy sauce or roasting them with herbs and extra virgin olive oil. The more the better!
These are also known as pulses. Include legumes at least three times a week such as chickpeas, beans and lentils and aim for ½ to 1 cup cooked for each serve. They are a wonderful source of plant-based protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals and are also a source of prebiotics (food for our gut microbes) which can contribute to a healthy and happy microbiome (the trillions of bacteria living in our gut). If they make you bloated try tinned lentils or chickpeas and rinse them thoroughly. Start with a small amount and work your way up. They can be added to a curry, stir-fry or salad or why not try one of the many vegetarian meals Activate Foods has that feature lentils or chickpeas? Our favourite is the vegetarian lasagna that features lentils.
Include a minimum of three servings of whole-grains per day such as rye, seeded or sourdough bread, rolled oats, quinoa, couscous, wild/brown rice, wheat pasta or grainy crackers. Whole grains contain several types of fibres and plant chemicals that increase diversity of gut bacteria, support good gut health and reduce the risk of bowel cancer
Include 30g of nuts and seeds per day to help supercharge your gut. Opt for unsalted and raw nuts wherever possible. Research suggests nuts and especially nut skins could benefit your gut health thanks to their high fibre levels and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. You can add cashews or peanuts to a stir-fry, add natural peanut butter to a smoothie, or sprinkle some seeds on your morning muesli
Include fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir and kimchi. Humans have been consuming fermented foods and beverages for thousands of years. Fermented dairy such as Kefir has evidence for benefiting heart health, bone health, digestion and weight management
This is basically a fancy name for a group of plant chemicals. Research shows they may help promote the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. The majority of polyphenols are not absorbed in your small intestine (due to their complex structures) – so they make it to the large intestine where your friendly gut microbes live. These friendly bacteria then turn them into other beneficial compounds – that our body can absorb and use and have been linked with cancer and diabetes prevention, heart, brain and mental health.They’re found in a wide range of foods including tea and coffee, plums, cherries, berries, pomegranate and apples, olives and extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, cocoa products and vegetables such as tofu and legumes. , Drink tea + coffee (if you enjoy it). Don’t ditch them because of the latest ‘bikini body challenge.’
Keep your plant foods diverse
Research shows we should be aiming for 30-40 different plant-foods per week. This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, herbs and spices. The more diverse/varied the plants are in your diet, the more diverse the bugs in your gut will be which is key to good gut health!
Need help with your gut complaints? Book in with one of the dietitians at Eatsense by calling 0243113623 or booking online at eatsense.com.au