When people talk about gut health, they're typically referring to digestion and absorption of food, absence of GI illness, and normal/stable intestinal microbiota. Upset stomach, unintentional weight changes, food intolerance, skin irritation, constant fatigue, bloating, constipation and diarrhea could be signs of an unhealthy gut. It is very important to look after your gut because many studies have shown links between gut health and the immune system, mood, mental health, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, skin conditions, and cancer. Nutrition writer, Max Lugarve, said that gut health is "important for nearly every aspect of your being including your weight, metabolism, inflammation, brain function, and more.”
According to Max Lugarve, you can easily boost your gut health by incorporating these 9 foods into your diet.
Onions and Garlic
An analysis of 64 studies by King's College London found that prebiotic fibers in garlic and onions had a bigger impact on bacteria found in the body than the general types of fiber found in foods like brown rice and potatoes. The analysis found that prebiotic fibers resulted in higher levels of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus in the gut compared to other types of fiber. These two bacteria are required for a healthy digestive system to function effectively. Although garlic can act as a food source for healthy gut bacteria, if you have IBS, you may want to avoid it as it's a type of carb that some may have difficulty digesting.
Leeks are a source of soluble fiber, including prebiotics. The bacteria in leeks produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which can reduce inflammation and strengthen gut health. Research shows that prebiotics may help improve your body's absorption of important nutrients which can boost your overall health.
Also referred to as a Mexican yam bean or Mexican turnip, jicama contains dietary fiber which increases the bulk of stool and helps it move more easily through your digestive tract. Just one cup of jicama contains 6.4 grams of fiber. It also contains inulin, which has shown to increase frequency of bowel movements by 31% in people with constipation. Jicama also has a high water content which may help with constipation.
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Kale is an awesome vegetable because it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods and is very versatile. You can put kale in a smoothie, juice, salad, or even just sauté it with some salt and pepper. Kale contains a great amount of vitamin A, K, C, & B, as well as, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, and magnesium. It also contains powerful antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol. Kale is great for gut health because it also contains prebiotics and antioxidants. Research has shown that when kale is eaten, higher levels of phytochemical indole-3-carbinol appear in digestive tracks. This helps foster a better environment for stem cell development which helps regenerate the bowel surface faster. Not only that but, indole-3-carbinol can also help decrease inflammation in the gut.
Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, are root veggies that look similar to ginger. With a sweet and nutty flavor, you can sautée, purée, and roast them. Sunchokes are great for gut health because they are high in inulin which supports healthy digestion. Sunchokes contain no fat or cholesterol. Just one cup of this vegetable contains 110 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.
Some amino acids in bone broth can help aid digestion. A study in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care stated that glutamine supplementation helps heal the intestinal barrier. This has the potential to help improve leaky gut, which interferes with the body's ability to digest food. Drinking bone broth is an easy way to increase your intake of anti-inflammatory amino acids.
Turmeric is often sold in the form of capsules, teas, powders, and extracts. If you're not familiar with turmeric, it is sometimes referred to as Indian saffron or the golden spice and is a tall plant that grows in Asia and Central America. Turmeric is often recommended to help with chronic pain and inflammation. It may also help people with arthritis reduce the aggravation they feel in their joints. The Arthritis Foundation recommends taking capsules of 400-600 mg up to three times per day for inflammation relief.