(Digestive health is a critical player when it comes to your overall health. Learning which foods can help keep you well and positively improve everything from your mood to how your body absorbs nutrients. Staying well is the focus for the sixth part in our series on the nine benefits at the core of FoodTrients® and all of our recipes. What you eat matters, which is why we’ll explore one of these incredible anti-aging benefits each month and show you how they help fight the diseases of aging.)
You may be familiar with the phrase “gut health,” but in order to truly understand the complexity, we need to discuss everything from the gut microbiome to pre- and probiotics and the types of foods that make your digestive system the happiest and healthiest. We’re going to explore this important topic today because gut health plays a role in so many aspects of the body from your mood to immunity to the way you absorb nutrients and detoxify.
The ‘gut’ is an important portion of the digestive system that is responsible for processes like nutrient digestion and absorption. Understanding how this system works and which foods your body — and the beneficial bacteria within your gut — desires is the first step to supporting a healthy gut. In this article, we will explore which FoodTrients® can support gut health.
You’re likely not aware that your gut contains beneficial bacteria — more bacteria in fact than there are human cells in the body. This is referred to as the gut microbiome. Probiotics are good bacteria that we eat, often from fermented foods that help support a healthy gut microbiome. Studies show that probiotics are active microorganisms (e.g. live bacteria and yeast) that have health benefits when consumed. These microorganisms communicate with the rest of the body, sending messages to the brain. This connection is referred to as the “gut-brain axis”.
The goal with gut health is to support the good bacteria there through fiber, or prebiotics which “feed” the probiotics, as well as to support more good bacteria through fermented foods (think yogurt or kimchi). There is plenty of evidenced-based research on how maintaining balance of good and bad bacteria can contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases, create a healthy immune system, support mood and brain function, and help with healthy aging.
Luckily, there are many foods that can help create and nurture a healthy microbiome.
Here’s the best foods that include fiber and good bacteria (or both!) through foods that support your gut health. Consider planning out your diet so that you get these types of foods every day.
Foods that contain insoluble fiber (bulks stool) and soluble fiber (absorbs water and grabs bacteria) are the foundation of a healthy gut.
High fiber foods include vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. Some of the best sources include:
Foods that the body cannot break down and instead get fermented by the good bacteria in your gut have special fibers that are referred to as prebiotics.
Some of the best sources include:
Foods that contain living microorganisms similar to those naturally produced in the gut are called probiotic foods. They are generally either fermented or cultured.
Some of the best sources include:
Foods that contain both probiotics and prebiotics are a perfect combination for your gut health. Try these pairings for the best of both worlds:
While nutrition is important, the combination of lifestyle and nutrition interventions play the biggest roles in overall health. In addition to consuming a variety of whole, nutritious foods, the microbiome typically thrives on regular exercise, stress management, and quality sleep. With that being said, the decisions you make in your day-to-day life can play a significant role in the balance, or imbalance, of the gut microbiome.
What foods could you incorporate from our list that could help with your gut health?