FOODS FOR A HEALTHY DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Scientists are still studying the fascinating gut-brain connection and how the two affect each other. Mental distress can cause upset stomach and intestinal issues, just as a diseased GI tract can cause depression, anxiety and lack of sleep. Therefore, keeping both brain and gut health in check is key for overall well-being.
We know that having a diet rich in fiber, nutrients, and phytochemicals is important for health and disease prevention. A lot is yet to be discovered about our digestive tract, but recent emerging studies are focusing on the importance of the microbiome – the collective of good and bad bacteria, fungi and yeast in our body and how it affects our health.
Our gut microbiome is constantly changing and the food we eat affects the diversity and health of the bacteria in our gut. An unhealthy diet may cause bad bacteria to develop and reproduce and consequently leads to many digestion problems. Similarly, a healthy diet can help replenish the gut with good bacteria (a.k.a probiotics) which may reduce inflammation in the GI tract, improve digestion and the absorption of nutrients and consequently improve our immunity, mental state, and overall well-being.
Below are the recommended foods to include in your diet to improve gut health:
Fermented foods like Kimchi, pickles or miso
These plant-based fermented products have the good bacteria in them, as well as essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, A, selenium and iron.
High fibre foods like artichoke, asparagus and beans
These foods contain insoluble fiber that travels to the large intestinal intact where it becomes a good food source for healthy bacteria and helps it multiply. They are also rich in nutrients that help fight free radicals and protect against disease.
Organic yoghurt with live cultures
Not all yogurt products have those live bacteria in them. Choose well while reading the label to get the best product. They are also a good source of protein, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Polyphenols containing foods such as green tea, dark chocolate and olive oil
These compounds are found in a lot of fruits and vegetables as well as green tea and dark chocolate. They have a protective effect towards the cells of the mucosa lining the intestines and it seems that they act as prebiotics or food source for the healthy bacteria.
Anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric and ginger
These roots have been used for years to help heal and protect against disease. Their anti-inflammatory properties protect the gut and make it an optimal environment for probiotic growth.