7 Excellent Foods for Gut Health
Gut health is all the rage right now, from detox teas to weight loss programs marketed by diet culture. As functional medicine doctors, the importance of gut health isn’t news to us. We’ve been helping patients heal their guts for years!
When it comes to helping patients heal their gut bacteria, diet is one of the number one areas that Five Journeys addresses. We start by assessing a patient’s current eating habits to see how their diet is supporting or inhibiting their body’s healing and functioning processes.
After this assessment, our doctors provide dietary recommendations to better support gut health, including these excellent foods for gut health.
Why Gut Health Matters
At Five Journeys, we love to educate our readers and patients about the importance of gut health for their overall health. That’s why we talk so much about gut health on our website.
Gut health is central to the health of your entire body. Your gut microbiome affects many systems in the body, from your immune system to nutrient absorption to mental health.
Your gut microbiome is teeming with different types of bacteria. Much of the bacteria are beneficial for your health, but some bacteria have negative effects on the body. Your gut is meant to maintain balanced levels of bacteria, but sometimes these bacteria become imbalanced. This is often due to high stress levels, trauma, toxins, poor diet, and other lifestyle habits.
Poor gut health impacts the body in many ways. The immune system is located in and around the gut, which makes up over 70% of your entire immune defenses. When the immune system is weakened, it likely means that your gut bacteria aren’t functioning properly.
Linked directly to the brain through the gut-brain axis, your gut bacteria affect brain chemicals that regulate your mood and energy levels. If you find yourself feeling anxious or depressed, poor gut health may be the culprit.
Also, your gut is responsible for absorbing the nutrients from the food you eat. If your gut isn’t working properly, you may suffer from malnutrition or deficiencies of key vitamins and nutrients. This makes it even harder for your body to get back to a base level of health and start thriving again.
What to Eat for a Healthy Gut
The good news is, poor gut health can be reversed. For most people, making dietary changes will result in significant improvement in gut bacteria. Here are several types of excellent foods for gut health to start incorporating into your diet, as advised by a functional medicine doctor.
Foods high in probiotics contain bacteria that benefit, heal, and boost your gut microbiome. Probiotic-rich foods are usually fermented, which adds microbe bacteria. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria are most common in foods high in probiotics.
Here are several foods rich in probiotics:
Keep reading about probiotic foods: 8 High-Probiotic Foods to Restore Gut Health (That Actually Taste Good).
Some foods contain prebiotics, a special type of soluble fiber beneficial to your gut health. These prebiotics help nourish and sustain probiotics in the body.
Bananas, blueberries, oats, soybeans, onions, asparagus, and garlic are some foods rich in prebiotics. It’s also recommended to pair probiotic and prebiotic foods to benefit gut health even further. For example, the combo of yogurt (probiotics) and banana (prebiotics) boosts existing gut bacteria and inserts more beneficial bacteria—all in one fell swoop.
The American diet consists mainly of Omega 6 fatty acids, which often contribute to imbalances and inflammation in the body. Omega 6 fats are often found in vegetable oils, margarine, and processed snacks.
Omega 3 fats, however, are more nourishing for the body. We recommend incorporating more Omega 3 fatty acids, such as:
- Fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines)
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds (hemp, chia, flax)
- Coconut oil
- Grass-fed butter
Contrary to what diet culture preaches, fats aren’t bad for you. We just want to make sure you’re getting a balance of healthy, nourishing fats in your diet.
We all know the health benefits of incorporating more vegetables into our diets; specifically, leafy green vegetables. But did you know that dark leafy vegetables are an excellent food for gut health?
Dark leafy greens are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They benefit your bone health, gut health, and even your DNA. The insoluble fiber in these vegetables promotes healthy bowel movements, which helps clear the gut and intestines of waste products.
Kale, swiss chard, lettuce, arugula, spinach, dandelion greens, and mustard greens fall into the dark leafy green category.
High Fiber Foods
Fiber is a plant-based nutrient broken into two categories: soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are beneficial for gut health: they promote healthy digestion, prevent constipation, and promote a healthy weight and cholesterol levels.
We recommend incorporating more of these whole sources of fiber:
- Oat bran
- Beans and lentils
- Whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, barley)
- Dried or fresh fruit
- Nuts and seeds
- Artichokes, winter squash, and potatoes
By incorporating more of these excellent foods for gut health, you’ll be on your way to better balanced gut bacteria.
Get Gut Help for Good
At Five Journeys, we specialize in treating poor gut health through a functional approach to healthcare. In addition to helping our patients incorporate these excellent gut health foods, we conduct testing and genetic research and come up with a custom treatment plan. Click here to book a free 15-minute discovery call with our practice.