The gut microbiome refers to the colony of microorganisms living within our large intestine. A healthy gut microbiome is altered by many different factors such as diet and medications. Gut health can also impact many aspects of health including appetite and immunity. Have you wondered, how you can make your gut healthy through diet? You’ve come to the right place! Let’s look at the top 5 plant-based foods for a healthy gut.
Top 5 plant-based foods for a healthy gut:
Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that’s high in probiotics. Probiotics are living organisms that when consumed, have positive effects on the host (you). There are two main strains of bacteria found in food or supplements. One of the more common strains is Lactobacillus, which is what’s found in kefir. Different strains will have different positive outcomes for the host.
Kefir contains yeast and over a dozen different bacteria that have been linked to lowering cholesterol, preventing diarrhea, regulating the immune system, and blocking some microorganisms. Probiotics block dangerous bacteria by competing for the same absorption pathways in the large intestine. This helps to prevent bacterial infection. All of these things make for a healthier gut! Try adding kefir to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning to start it can have a strong taste for some people. Unsweetened plain kefir is always your best choice, but choosing flavored kefir with small amounts of sugar is a good place to start if you’re feeling apprehensive about the taste.
2. Whole Grains
Whole grains like whole-grain bread, pasta, quinoa, etc; are high in fiber and this is beneficial for a healthy gut microbiome. Fiber is a type of prebiotic because they act as food for the probiotics (living organisms) in our guts. The fiber found in food is fermented in our colons to short-chain fatty acids which are the fuel for healthy bacteria.
This creates a healthy balance of bacteria in our colon. High fiber intake can also lead to a reduction in type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Try to incorporate more fiber into your diet by making at least half of your grain sources whole grain. Your gut microbiome will thank you!
Prebiotics aren’t just found in whole grains. The non-digestible portion of carbohydrates called Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) is found in a number of different vegetables and roots. The most common type of FOS is called inulin. Inulin is found naturally in asparagus, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, and tomatoes. Just like fiber in whole grains, inulin has positive effects on the diversity of our gut microbiome which leads to improved health overall. It’s important to include fruits and vegetables at each meal. For a healthy gut, add garlic or onions to your favorite dishes and try including more inulin-rich vegetables as sides.
Tea contains compounds called polyphenols which act as antioxidants. The polyphenol found in the highest concentrations in tea is flavonols. Flavonols are beneficial for the gut microbiome because they help to protect the intestinal barrier from pathogens and bacteria. These effects lead to lower markers for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk. Not all teas will have the same amount of polyphenols as others. Green or white tea will contain more polyphenols because they’re less processed. Try switching out a cup of joe for a cup of white or green tea for an added antioxidant boost!
Berries are also important foods for a healthy gut! Berries are another great source of polyphenols. They are packed with a polyphenol called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins will have the same or similar health benefits as the flavonols found in tea. Similar to tea, the polyphenols in berries help to lower markers for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. These polyphenols are found in the bright skin of most berries. This means it’s important to eat the whole fruit, rather than just the juice, to receive all the possible benefits. Try including blackberries, blueberries or black currants in your diet as these berries have the highest concentrations of anthocyanin than other berries. Add some berries to your smoothies, on top of your yogurt, or your oatmeal in the morning!
Our gut microbiome can be altered by multiple factors. Want to make some quick switches in your diet for a healthy gut? Try eating more probiotic-rich foods like kefir which are living organisms that enrich the gut microbiome. Prebiotics found in fiber and inulin, which provides food for the bacteria to consume. Polyphenols found in tea and berries help to protect the intestinal wall from bacteria and infection.
What are your go-to foods for a healthy gut? Let us know in the comments below!
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