We eat many foods, but if you want to improve your gut health, try adding these 10 simple and effective foods to your diet.

Do you find that whatever foods you eat you end up with bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, stabbing pains, acid reflux and nausea, these are some of the signs and symptoms that your gut is not digesting foods and absorbing them properly.  By eating the right kind of food you can heal the gut at a cellular level.  If you are finding that you just don’t know what to eat anymore you have come to the right place! 

Top 10 Foods Good For The Gut

Why is gut health so important?

The gut, also known as the digestive system or alimentary canal is a long tube that is approximately 9 meters long (30 feet), running from the mouth to the anus.  The gut is responsible for breaking down and absorbing nutrients and eliminating waste products from the food we eat, from the moment we put the food in our mouths to when we eliminate waste through the urine or faeces.

Fortunately, though there are many foods that are good for the gut and can help improve our digestive health.  In this blog, we will explore the top 10 foods that are good for the gut, that help support the proper functioning: so that the nutrients can be broken down and absorbed properly.

Top 10 Foods Good For the Gut:

Water Good For The Gut

1. Water

Our body is 70% water, if our body is not hydrated enough then the cells cannot function properly.  The water that we drink and consume in food is an essential carrier, bringing nutrients into the cells and taking waste away.  Drinking plenty of clean, pure water every day is one of the simplest ways to improve your gut health. Water is essential for digestive health, it helps keep the digestive system hydrated and promotes regular bowel movements. Drinking enough water can help prevent constipation and other digestive problems.  Staying hydrated is essential to life in general and the health of the gut.

How much water?

It used to be that the gold standard of how much water to drink was 8 glasses, but what that does not take into consideration is your gender, weight, diet, medications etc. you get the gist!  A good guideline is to drink half your body weight in ounces is now thought to be a better guideline, but it still has its flaws. Most people are dehydrated because of our nutrition and lifestyle nowadays, so increasing your intake is a good place to start….

Foods High In Water:

Cucumber                                             96.7%

Watermelon                                          91.4%

Romaine Lettuce                                  95.6%

Strawberries                                          91.0%

Radishes                                                95.3%

Raspberries                                           87.0%

Courgettes                                             95.0%

Kiwi                                                         84.2%

Broccoli                                                  90.7%

Apples                                                    84.0%

Just by adding a few berries to your water, or lemon, lime and herbs not only tastes better but helps hydrate the cells at a molecular level.

Fibre rich foods that are good for the gut

2. Fibre-rich foods

Fibre is an important nutrient for digestive health as fibre intake is critical for gut ecology, because of its role as fuel for the microbiome.  Foods that contain fibre contain a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibre.  The soluble fibre becomes gel like and is fermented by friendly bacteria in the large intestine to make short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s).  Insoluble fibre is indigestible, it is important for bulking the stool and better gut mobility.  Fibre helps keep food moving through the digestive system and promotes regular bowel movements. Fibre also feeds the good bacteria in the gut, which can help maintain a healthy balance of gut flora.

Foods Containing Fibre:

The best sources of fibre are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.  Eating a wide variety of all these different types of food, enhances the diversity of the microbiome and this is good for the gut.

Examples of Amount of Fibre in Select Foods:

Apples (raw with skin)                  4 g

Broccoli (cooked) ½ cup            2.5 g

Kidney Bean ½ cup                      8 g

Oats      ¾ cup                                3 g

Almonds   (23)                             3.5 g

Chia Seeds  (28g)                      10.0 g

Probiotic Foods - Foods good for the Gut

3. Probiotic-rich foods

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and help maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms. They can also help improve digestion and boost the immune system. Eating foods that are rich in probiotics can help support a healthy gut.

Some of the best sources of probiotics include:

  • Active-culture yogurts
  • Cheese
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut

These foods contain live cultures of beneficial bacteria that can help populate the gut with good microbes.

Pre-biotic Foods - Foods good for the gut

4. Prebiotic-rich foods

Your microbiota and prebiotic rich foods evolved together and work in synergy to perform.  Prebiotics are a type of fibre that feed the good bacteria in the gut. They are found in many different types of foods and can help support a healthy balance of gut flora.

Some of the best sources of prebiotics include:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Oats
  • Apples

 These foods contain a specific type of fibre called inulin, which is particularly beneficial for promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Bone Broth - Foods Good for the Gut

5. Bone broth

Bone broth is easy to digest, soothing to the digestive tract, has a unami taste that is satisfying, and it’s probably one of the most healing foods you can consume! For centuries, across all cultures, mothers, doctors, and chefs have used nutrient-dense bone broths as a classic folk remedy to heal, nourish and deepen the flavours in food.

Bone broths provide collagen, gelatin, glucosamine, chondroitin, actin, amino acids, and peptides. Bone broth provides some calcium, phosphorus, and to a lesser degree, magnesium, sulfur and potassium. It’s often used for conditions that affect connective tissues, boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Bone broth is a nutrient-rich liquid made from simmering bones, vegetables, and herbs. It is a good source of collagen, gelatin, and amino acids, which can help support digestive health.

There is no specific clinical research demonstrating bone broth healing effects on gut permeability but in practice, we see it’s nurturing and healing effects on the gut health.  For further information on bone broth benefits and recipe, read more.

Ginger - Top 10 Foods for the Gut

6. Ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a native plant to Asia.  First cultivated in China and has been used for 3,000 years.  Ginger contains a compound called gingerol which has a sedative, and anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  Ginger is most commonly used to settle an upset stomach, prevent motion sickness and help with morning sickness.  Because ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory it can help soothe the digestive system and reduce symptoms of nausea and bloating.

Whole, unpeeled ginger pieces can be added to stews for more depth of flavour, and then removed just before serving, or added stir fried with leafy greens like kale, bok choy or broccoli.  You can make a juice by mashing or grating in a food processor and then squeezing it through a cheesecloth or nut bag to produce a juice to add to marinades or by adding lemon or lime and honey it makes an invigorating tonic.  Ginger is a common ingredient in kombucha.

Gut Healing Recipe:

Grate a teaspoon of fresh ginger in a glass of boiling water, cooled and then drunk, is the most reliable cure for an upset stomach.

    Turmeric - Top 10 foods for the gut

    7. Turmeric

    Turmeric is an ancient Indian medicinal spice that nowadays is used for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.  Turmeric is another powerful anti-inflammatory herb that can help reduce inflammation in the gut. It contains an active compound called curcumin, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, at the molecular level.  Unfortunately, you need to consume large quantities for it to work, using in capsule form along with a bit of black pepper (which contains the absorption-enhancer piperine.

    Adding turmeric to your diet can help reduce inflammation in the gut and support a healthy digestive system. It can be consumed in many different forms, including fresh turmeric root, turmeric tea, or as a spice in cooking.

    How To Use Turmeric:

    Turmeric though related to ginger and also a root, turmeric is brighter in colour.  Turmeric can be bought fresh, but is more commonly used as a powder in cooking.  In the kitchen it is rather a heavy spice to be used on its own, so better blended with other spices in a curry powder, blending all the different spices and flavours together beautifully and gives curry its distinctive colour.  Add to rice along with the water to give a golden coloured dish.  Can be added to eggs, a yoghurt dip, or a cream sauce to pour over broccoli or cauliflower

    Garlic - Top 10 foods for the Gut

    8. Garlic

    Garlic is one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops.  The name garlic comes from garleac, an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “spear leek”.  Garlic is thought to be descended from Allium longicuspis, a wild strain of Asian garlic but its origins are still in question.  It is from the lily (Liliaceae) family and related to onions, leeks, chives, and shallot.

    Garlic is a potent prebiotic that can help feed the good bacteria in the gut. It also has antimicrobial properties that can help reduce the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut.

    How To Use Garlic:

    Adding garlic to your diet can help promote a healthy balance of gut flora and support digestive health. It can be consumed raw or cooked and is a flavourful addition to many different dishes. Baking garlic reduces garlic’s spicy bite and creates a subtly flavoured paste.  Whole cloves can be added to stews and stir frys.  The smaller garlic is minced the stronger the flavour.  When cooking with onions, add the garlic after as it burns and gives a bitter taste.  Garlic can be added to mayonnaise, mashed potatoes or to butter to make garlic bread.

    Fermented Foods - Top 10 Foods for the gut

    9. Fermented vegetables

    Naturally fermented foods are getting a lot of attention these days from health experts because they may help to strengthen your gut microbiome – there are 100 trillion or so bacteria and micro-organisms.  More research is very much needed as this is a relatively new science and more strains of the different bacteria and micro-organisms are being discovered. 

     Fermented vegetables are a great source of probiotics and can help support a healthy gut. They are made by allowing vegetables to ferment in a saltwater brine, which encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria.

    Some of the best fermented vegetables include sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles. These foods can help populate the gut with good bacteria and improve digestive health.  As a word of caution when purchasing jars of pickles off the shelf at the supermarket, be aware that these maybe pickled using vinegar and not the natural fermentation process using live organisms, which basically means they do not contain probiotics.  To ensure fermented foods you chose do contain probiotics look for the words “naturally fermented” on the label, and when you open the jar look for bubbles in the liquid that signals that the live organisms are inside the jar.

    How To Make Simple Fermented Vegetables

    You can ferment any vegetables, some examples are:

    Cauliflower

    Dill

    Carrots

    Cabbage

    Radishes

    Green Beans

    • Make a solution of brine from 2 pints of water mixed with fine sea salt.
    • Some vegetables like dill you can keep whole, for the bigger firmer vegetables, chopping or shredding helps the brine penetrate the vegetables
    •  Pack the vegetables in a sterilized jar as compact as possible, all the way to the top.4. Add brine and leave on the counter for 72 hours and then transfer to the fridge and leave up to 14 days if you can!

    Garlic, herbs and spices can be added for flavour, these are best added at the bottom of the jar.

    Omega 3 Foods - Top 10 Foods for the Gut

    10. Omega-3-rich foods

    Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties. Eating foods that are rich in omega-3s can help reduce inflammation in the gut and support a healthy digestive system.  Recent research has also connected eating a diet high in Omega 3 rich foods with more microbiome diversity of good bacteria, which helps break down foods properly leading to better absorption.

    The best source of omega-3 rich foods for the gut, are from fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, tuna and sardines.  Some other good sources of omega-3 rich foods for the gut are flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts

    Adding these foods to your diet can help improve digestive health and reduce inflammation and microbiome diversity in the gut.

    What Our Nutrition Expert Has to Say:

    When working with clients with gut issues, it is important to find the right balance for that person as an individual as we are all unique in our body makeup.  Finding the right balance to bring about overall balance can take some digging.

    As mentioned, in the above blog there are many things you can do to improve your gut and overall health. One client may respond very well to a high fibre diet but another may find it too much on their digestion and it can cause irritation and inflammation which can lead to discomfort, bloating and pain.  Building up fibrous foods slowly is key, as with any dietary change.

    Equally, some people may do well with fermented foods, but another may struggle with them.

    Getting to know your body takes time and what it likes and dislikes is personal to you.  

    In conclusion: Eating a diet that is balanced, hydrating and unprocessed is key.  Foods should be in their natural form not adulterated with preservatives, stabilizers and colouring, the body has not evolved to know what to do with them.

    Finding a Nutritional Therapist, like myself, who can help you discover what foods work well with your body and which ones do not can take the pain out of the process and maybe see some connections that you may not be able to see yourself.  If you would like a free 15 minute exploratory chat please click here.  

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