It’s obvious that when your digestive system is working properly, you’re less prone to issues like constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and even more serious issues such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). When food is properly digested, your body is absorbing all necessary nutrients and energy from the foods you consume. The immune system is also closely linked with the digestive system, so if your digestive tract is impaired, it can have an impact on your overall health. The same thing can be said for mental health as well.
So what are some of the best things to eat for your gut?
Foods High in Probiotics/Fermented Food
Many would assume that digestive issues signal that our body needs a detox, but this isn’t true. Our digestive system is made up of bacteria, but it’s good, helpful bacteria that is necessary. Sometimes this balance of good bacteria can be off, especially when taking antibiotic medications. Foods that are high in probiotics are fermented with gut-loving bacteria, making them potent with probiotics.
Yogurt is probably the most well-known food that contains probiotics. However, keep in mind that not all yogurt contains probiotics, and some contain added sugar. Make sure to read the label for the sugar content and that the yogurt includes live cultures in order for it to be considered a probiotic.
Kefir is similar to yogurt, except that it is more like thick milk in texture. Kefir is a probiotic that contains a variety of strains of good bacteria and yeast that our bodies need, so it’s actually more beneficial than yogurt.
This is a popular drink that is made of fermented black or green tea. Though not as effective as yogurt or kefir, kombucha is still beneficial because of its probiotic properties.
Many people probably already know that pickles are cucumbers that have been fermented in a salt and water solution and the lactic acid that naturally occurs in cucumbers. Pickles are high in vitamin K, but also tend to be high in sodium.
Sauerkraut is essentially fermented cabbage. It’s beneficial to the digestive system because it’s fermented with good bacteria and lactic acid, but it also has other health benefits. It’s also rich in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins B, C, and K.
Kimchi is another fermented vegetable dish made up of spices, cabbage, and other vegetables. It’s also fermented with lactic acid to help benefit the digestive system.
Miso is fermented soybeans and originates from Japan. It’s traditionally used in soup and served at breakfast time. It’s also a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Foods High in Fiber
Fiber is a nutrient that our stomachs don’t digest but instead travel down to the colon to feed the good bacteria in our intestines. Fiber also gives you a fuller feeling to prevent overeating, which can also cause digestive issues.
Not to be confused with whole wheat, but whole grains contain 100% of the kernel and they’re packed with fiber. These grains also act as a prebiotic that helps with gut health alongside probiotics.
Dark, Leafy Greens
Leafy green vegetables are known to help relieve constipation. In addition to spinach and kale; broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts also contain essential nutrients and fiber to help with digestion.
Ginger is a spice that is used to treat nausea in a variety of cultures. The use of this herb can also prevent heartburn and other stomach issues, eliminating the need to use drugstore medications. This is beneficial, as the FDA recently recalled Zantac, a popular antacid because of it containing trace amounts of a harmful substance.
It’s important to note that any serious digestive issues should always be discussed with your doctor. Some of these foods may provide temporary relief for some, but there could be an underlying condition that needs to be diagnosed.