Have you ever wondered about the bacteria in your gut and what foods it takes to make them happy?
This is what I call the Gut Loving Diet. These foods feed your good bacteria and starve out the bad bacteria. They are whole foods, not too expensive, readily available. You also don’t have to be a Cordon Bleu Chef to be able to whip them up in your kitchen.
These are really unfashionable right now with the Paleo movement in full swing but bacteria love wholegrains especially in the form of oats, rye and wholegrain rice. If you have a dodgy gut rinse and soak overnight in acidulated water (lemon juice or apple cider vinegar added) before rinsing again and cooking the next day to get the best from them.
Are the most abundant antioxidants in the diet and are generally found in plants. Only a small percentage of polyphenols are broken down in the small intestine and the rest make their way to the large intestine where they act as a prebiotic for the gut bacteria.
They increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut and they inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Some foods that have polyphenols; apples, blueberries, black currants, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, black grapes,pomegranates,plums, red wine, green tea and peppermint tea.
Are again rich in polyphenols. They are loaded with insoluble and soluble fibre which helps prevent constipation. The insoluble fibre absorbs water and expands as it moves through the digestive tract. It has a bulking and softening action decreases pressure inside the intestinal tract which can calm the symptoms of IBS. Green leafy vegetables have been shown to boost a pathway in the intestinal tract which helps produce a type of cell that repairs the lining of the gut and balances both good and bad bacteria. Ensure you have lots of different varieties with as many colours. Think about all the colours of the rainbow – red, blue, purple, yellow, orange, white, green to get the most phytonutrients from your food. Have them easily accessible in your fridge.
Nuts and seeds
Are super high in fibre. Phytic acid can stop you from absorbing their goodness. Activation is the best way to improve their digestibility. Soak them in acidulated water then dehydrate until dry. Almonds, pistachios, chestnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, flaxseeds(need to be cracked to be of benefit), sesame seeds, peptitas, sunflower seeds.They can cause trouble for some, so start slow and a small handful is enough.
Are short and medium chain sugar molecules that our body can’t digest (aka fermentable fibres). They pass through the digestive system and also become food for good bacteria and yeast. They stimulate the growth of good bacteria and they reduce pathogenic bacteria, a true prebiotic. These are generally high FODMAP foods and they can cause discomfit for many people. So tread with caution. The ones that are mostly used are jerusalem artichoke, yacon tubers, chicory roots, dandelion roots, garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus and globe artichokes.
Generally do not cause the same level of discomfit in people with gut issues or SIBO. They too stimulate the protective bacteria and limits the growth of the bad guys. Useful as they improve intestinal mucosa and villi function. They can cause problems for some with Intestinal Permeability. Bloating and gas can be side effects of adding these foods into the diet. This side effect doesn’t usually last more than a few days. Some of my favourites are legumes, Brassica family vegetables(Brussels Sprouts, cauliflower, collards, cabbage, kale, kohl rabi, Chinese cabbage, Chinese veggies, turnips, mustard greens fresh beans, beetroot, rye sourdough(if not gluten intolerant), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, LSA mix(Linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds).
Again not something we can digest. It is not a fermentable fibre but it has very similar actions. It travels through the digestive tract untouched as it reaches the colon and this is where the bacteria go crazy for it. Again reduces pathogenic bacteria and increases beneficial bacteria and some great sources are legumes, red lentils, kidney beans, adzuki beans, green bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, cassava, sweet potato, taro, rye bread, cashews and oats(higher amounts found when uncooked).
Other prebiotic like foods
brown rice, orange carrots, black currants, cocoa, olives and good healthy oils like olive and coconut oil.
The Gut Loving Diet is easy to follow. No special foods, a little preparation is needed to make sure you include the foods that improve your gut. You will experience a small amount of gas and bloating when adding some of these foods. This should be a short term problem only. If it’s an issue you may need to do some gut healing work before you eat some of the harder to digest groups like the FOS and Inulin.
Your gut bacteria will thank you with continued good health if you feed them well everyday.
If you are interested in finding out more information on what foods work for you or how to repair your gut. Contact me to get you started.