Updated: Aug 18, 2020
Load up on foods that help good bacteria thrive — your brain, skin, and every other part of your body will thank you!
A balanced gut microbiome is essential for optimal digestion, absorption of nutrients, and elimination. It also supports a healthy inflammatory response and keeps our immune system strong. Translation: Your gut matters.
Many diseases can actually be traced back to an imbalance of the gut — so how do we make sure ours is in good shape?
Start by eating foods that can repair and strengthen your gut lining. Also load up on sources of pre- and probiotics so you have plenty of the good bacteria.
Think of probiotics as healthy gut bacteria, while prebiotics (indigestible fiber) is food for the probiotics. Just like us, probiotics need fuel to do their jobs properly.
Let’s look at how some of these powerful foods can help heal our gut, aid in digestion, and create a healthy ecosystem so we can look and feel our best!
Sauerkraut (“sour white cabbage” in German) is fermented cabbage that provides the body with lots of good bacteria. The high fiber content of cabbage combats bloating and indigestion by keeping your digestive system running smoothly.
Pro Tip: Look for fresh sauerkraut rather than canned.
Asparagus works as a prebiotic: it contains high levels of the indigestible fiber inulin, which feeds healthy bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Asparagus also has high levels of B vitamins and inflammation-fighting antioxidants.
Pro Tip:Try eating it raw with other crudités and dip for maximum prebiotic effects.
Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which works as a digestive aid, helping to break down protein from large food molecules into smaller peptides. Studies have suggested that bromelain counters pain and inflammation throughout the body (especially the sinus tissues) and reduces secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines that can damage the gut lining.
Pro Tip: I love eating pineapple whole and adding it to smoothies and juices!
Raw onions are a great source of prebiotics and contain quercetin (a strong antioxidant) that fights damaging free radicals in the body. Onions also contain chromium (which boosts insulin production) and vitamin C (which supports a strong immune system).
Pro Tip: Dice onions and put them in salads, dressings, and sauces, or slice them to place on salads or veggie burgers.
Raw garlic is another excellent prebiotic food with high levels of inulin, which fuels the good bacteria in the gut. Garlic is loaded with tons of nutrients, including manganese, vitamin B-6, vitamin C, selenium, and many active compounds, like allicin. Allicin is a powerful disease-fighting substance created after garlic is crushed or chopped.
Pro Tip: Add raw garlic to guacamole, hummus, sauces, and dressings!
6. Bone Broth
Bone broth helps heal the lining of the gut, which in turn supports immune system function and a healthy inflammatory response. Bone broth contains a variety of minerals and healing compounds such as gelatin, collagen, and the amino acids proline, glutamine, and arginine, that help to seal the gut lining, reduce permeability, fight inflammation, and boost the immune system.
Pro Tip: Cook up a big batch of delicious Bone Broth Veggie Soup etc and pack it for lunch or sip throughout the day.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar helps us break down and digest food by stimulating digestive juices and increasing stomach acid production. It also has antiviral and antimicrobial properties, reducing growth of the bacteria we don’t want living in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and helping to rid the body of excess yeast. These important roles support a healthy microbiome and immune system.
Pro Tip: Try adding apple cider vinegar to salad dressings or veggies before roasting!
The fermentation process of vegetables used to make kimchi not only enhances its flavour, but also produces the live and active probiotic cultures that promote gut integrity. This Korean side dish delivers large amounts of fiber and powerful antioxidants, and it naturally detoxifies the body.
Pro Tip: Integrate this delicacy into your next lunch or dinner bowl. Rice plus veggies plus kimchi equals one delicious dinner!
Ginger helps to calm and relax the stomach, relieve nausea, and alleviate gut ailments. Not only does it provide a natural source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, ginger also aids in digestion and helps prevent bloating.
Pro Tip: Adding peeled ginger to teas and smoothies gives them an extra flavourful kick.
10. Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens are one of the most detoxifying foods to eat, and they’re chock full of nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and prebiotic benefits that can help keep us strong and healthy.
Packed with vitamins A and K, calcium, and iron, these leafy greens are one of my favorite additions to powerful detoxifying, inflammation-fighting green juices.
Start incorporating some of these foods into your daily regimen. A healthy body and mind starts with a strong gut!
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