Right now, there’s a party going on inside your body. The guests? Meet Your Microbiome---about 100 trillion bacteria. I am currently obsessed with everything related to gut health — and for good reason! After all, a healthy gut is directly related to essential functions in the body, including the immune system, body weight, appetite, mood, inflammation and brain health.
A balanced and diverse microbiome = better health overall.
A less diverse or less balanced microbiome = a negative impact on health.
Many factors contribute to the health of your gut, including your environment, the amount of exercise and sleep you get, and stress. BUT…the #1 factor effecting your gut health is diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh, raw, organic fruits and veggies potentially increase the diversity of your gut microbiota. The good bacteria in your gut prefer to eat nutrients called prebiotics, facilitating bacterial growth. Apples, grapes, lettuce, peaches, peppers, leafy greens, carrots, sprouts, asparagus, celery and tomatoes are known to contain large prebiotic populations.
Eating organic fruits and vegetables, minimizes pesticides, which are very disruptive to our gut and one of the reasons so many people struggle with gut issues in the first place.
Curcumin is one of the main active ingredients in turmeric, which has powerful properties to support a healthy, normal inflammatory response. Inflammation is the source of many problems in the body, and specifically the gut. There are so many ways to incorporate turmeric. Experiment with your favorite curry recipes or try making turmeric tea, a creamy turmeric drink with the adaptogen ashwagandha, or this trendy kale and turmeric smoothie part of your routine.
Green tea contains wonderful antioxidants called polyphenols. In the gut, polyphenols seem to act as a prebiotics, which increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut. Learn more about green tea's health benefits.
Garlic & Onions
They provide prebiotics, which give the good gut bacteria the food they need to grow and flourish inside your gut.
Probiotic-Containing and Fermented Foods
Yogurt, Sauerkraut, Kefir, Kombucha, Kimchi
When it comes to yogurt, if you have concerns about gut health, buy plain, unflavored dairy products so you aren't eating added sugar. The extra sugar feeds the bad bugs in your gut, which you don't want to do. If your gut troubles are extreme, or you suspect leaky gut, you'll likely benefit by ditching dairy to improve gut health. Great non-dairy yogurt options are usually made from coconut or almond milk, and if you're really ambitious, consider making your own yogurt with a culture starter.
Here's a great starter kit if you want to make your own kefir, a delicious probiotic drink.
Good quality fats are an important part of a healthy gut diet.
- Grass-Fed Butter
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut oil
- Nuts & Seeds
Seaweeds and Microalgae
One of nature’s most biologically active resources, they possess a wealth of bioactive activity, such as antibacterial activity, antioxidant potential, anti-inflammatory properties, anti-coagulant activity and anti-viral activity. They’re also rich in dietary fibers, which good bacteria in the gut love to feed on.
Chia seeds are a gut health standout. When mixed with liquid, they swell and become gelatinous, creating the texture of this gel but also creating a consistency that will help line your gut and sweep out excess waste from your intestinal lining.
The gelatin and collagen that comes from the bones makes this a nutrient powerhouse for our guts. Include a half cup to a cup per day to heal your gut and promote general good health.
Collagen powder has much of the same gut-boosting qualities as bone broth. Simply scoop some into a glass of water or add to a smoothie. It’s completely flavorless and dissolves really easily.
Investing in a healthy gut means investing in overall health and happiness!
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods