Story of Faith

Eating for Optimal Gut Health

Confused about what to eat and what not to eat? With so much information online about healthy eating, it can be tricky to be sure about what’s best for a healthy gut. I am so lost most of the time.

Lets first look at GOOD GUT FOOD

1. Yoghurt

Live yoghurt is an excellent source of so-called friendly bacteria, also known as probiotics. Look out for sugar-free, full-fat versions and add your own fruit for a tasty breakfast. Yoghurt drinks can contain high numbers of bacteria that are good for the gut, far more than you would find in a normal yoghurt.  Do be mindful though as they can have a high sugar content. 

2. Kefir

This probiotic yoghurt drink is made by fermenting milk and is packed with good bacteria. It originated in the mountainous region between Asia and Europe, as well as Russia and Central Asia. It also makes a great addition to smoothies and soups, or you can use it as a base for salad dressing (add lemon juice and seasoning).

3. Miso

Miso is made from fermented soya beans, plus barley or rice, and contains a range of goodies such as helpful bacteria and enzymes. A savoury paste used in dips, dressings and soup, it can also be used as a marinade for salmon or tofu. It’s a staple of Japanese cooking and suitable if you’re avoiding dairy. There is uncertainty within the research that the bacteria effectively reach the gut, nevertheless in regions where Miso is a staple food source the population have better gut health and less bowel disease. 

4. Sauerkraut

This is finely chopped cabbage that has been fermented. This great source of probiotics, fibre and vitamins is best known as a German dish, but versions exist in Eastern and Central Europe. Choose a product that has not been pickled in vinegar, as that doesn’t have the same benefits. It’s delicious served with sausages, and can be cheap and easy to make at home. 

5. Kimchi

This Korean speciality of fermented vegetables brings the benefits of probiotic bacteria along with vitamins and fibre. Use it as a lively side dish with meat, salad or eggs. It’s so popular that Koreans say “kimchi” in the same way that we say “cheese” when they have their photos taken.

6. Sourdough

This is very fashionable at the moment, but there’s a good reason for that. Made by fermenting the dough, it’s more digestible than regular bread and its energy releases slowly. It makes fantastic toast too.

7. Almonds

These have good probiotic properties, which means they are a treat for your gut bacteria – high in fibre, and full of fatty acids and polyphenols. A handful of almonds makes an excellent snack when you’re feeling peckish.

8. Olive oil

Gut bacteria and microbes like a diet of fatty acids and polyphenols. These are found in olive oil. Studies have shown that it helps reduce gut inflammation. Use it for salad dressing or drizzle it over cooked vegetables. Some studies have also found olive oil to be beneficial in easing indigestion problems and can also benefit your pancreas through lowering its requirement to produce digestive enzymes. 

9. Kombucha

We all know water is crucial for gut health, but what else can you drink? Kombucha is a fermented tea drink thought to have originated in Manchuria that is full of probiotic good bacteria. It has a sharp, vinegary taste and can be used as a refreshing drink on its own or mixed with fruit and spices. It also makes the base for great cocktails.

10. Peas

Gut bacteria need fibre to flourish, so the more fruit and vegetables you consume the better. Peas are full of soluble and insoluble fibre to help keep your system in balance. Add peas to stir-fries, soups or salads.

11. Brussels sprouts

Much more than a festive staple, they contain the kinds of fibre that good bacteria like and sulphur compounds which help combat unhealthy bacteria such as H pylori. Stir-fry with garlic and bacon for a delicious side dish.

12. Bananas

One of nature’s handiest and healthiest snacks, bananas are full of the kind of fibre that good bacteria enjoy. They also contain healthy minerals.

13. Roquefort cheese

Live, runny, smelly French cheese will give your gut bacteria a boost – but eat it in moderation. Add it to salads or spread it on your sourdough. Whilst we cannot be ensured that all of the bacteria survive digestion to be beneficial it is believed that other properties help preserve some bacteria during digestion.    

14. Garlic 

Garlic, with its antibacterial and antifungal properties, can help keep “bad” gut bacteria under control and help balance yeast in the gut. Use it as a flavouring for savoury dishes. The properties within garlic act as a fuel source to allow the bacteria to do their job better which overall improves gut function. 

15. Ginger

Fresh ginger can help in the production of stomach acid and it stimulates the digestive system to keep food moving through the gut. Add fresh grated ginger to soups, stews, smoothies or stir-fries. Pour boiling water on grated ginger to make refreshing ginger tea.

NOT SO GOOD Foods for Digestion

Fried Foods

They’re high in fat and can bring on diarrhea. Rich sauces, fatty cuts of meat, and buttery or creamy desserts can cause problems, too.

Choose roasted or baked foods and light sauces that feature vegetables instead of butter or cream.

Citrus Fruits

Because they’re high in fiber, they can give some folks an upset stomach. Go easy on oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits if your belly doesn’t feel right.

Artificial Sugar

Chew too much sugar-free gum made with sorbitol and you might get cramps and diarrhea. Food made with this artificial sweetener can cause the same problems.

The FDA warns that you might get diarrhea if you eat 50 or more grams a day of sorbitol, though even much lower amounts reportedly cause trouble for some people.

Too Much Fiber

Foods high in this healthy carb, like whole grains and vegetables, are good for digestion. But if you start eating lots of them, your digestive system may have trouble adjusting. The result: gas and bloating. So step up the amount of fiber you eat gradually.

Beans

They’re loaded with healthy protein and fiber, but they also have hard-to-digest sugars that cause gas and cramping. Your body doesn’t have enzymes that can break them down. Bacteria in your gut do the work instead, giving off gas in the process.

Try this tip to get rid of some of the troublesome sugars: Soak dried beans for at least 4 hours and pour off the water before cooking.

Cabbage and Its Cousins

Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cabbage, have the same sugars that make beans gassy. Their high fiber can also make them hard to digest. It will be easier on your stomach if you cook them instead of eating raw.

Fructose

Foods sweetened with this — including sodas, candy, fruit juice, and pastries — are hard for some people to digest. That can lead to diarrhea, bloating, and cramps.

Spicy Foods

Some people get indigestion or heartburn after eating them, especially when it’s a large meal.

Studies suggest the hot ingredient in chili peppers, called capsaicin, may be a culprit.

Dairy Products

If they trigger diarrhea, bloating, and gas, you may be “lactose intolerant.” It means you don’t have an enzyme that digests a sugar in milk and other forms of dairy. 

Avoid those foods or try an over-the-counter drop or pill that has the missing enzyme.

Peppermint

It can relax the muscle at the top of the stomach, which lets food move back into your esophagus. That can cause heartburn. Other culprits include chocolate or coffee.

Experts say you can lower the pressure that pushes the food back up if you lose extra weight, eat smaller portions, and don’t lie down after eating.

Also, learn what foods give you problems, so you can avoid them.

IF YOU ARE NOW IN TEARS LIKE I AM — I AM SORRY, But I do know that it cry more when I am sick. So my food love affair has to end. I just need to set my mind to the change and do it.

All jokes aside your gut relies on just the right balance of different bacteria to digest your food and to prevent infection and inflammation. Gut health also affects your mental health, weight, blood sugar, and liver. So let’s all just try to listen to our gut and do the best for it.

What are your favorite gut healthy food? I would love to hear from you.

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