It is no secret that your diet directly impacts your health. The body receives the required nutrients and minerals from food. But have you ever thought about the impact of foods on the tiny beings living in your gut? Yes. We are talking about gut bacteria. They play an important role in digesting food. They are key to the general health of the body because lack of good gut bacteria will stop the digestive system from breaking down food properly. New studies have found that gut bacteria even produce neurotransmitters that regulate the production of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. Which means the absence of gut bacteria can contribute to mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Including few gut-friendly foods in the diet will take good care of the microbes. Here are 10 foods that you can easily incorporate to your day.
Yoghurt is a food that is literally alive because it has bacteria in it. This gut-friendly food is made by fermenting milk with live bacteria culture at an optimum temperature that encourages the growth of good bacteria. The probiotics (the active bacteria) in yoghurt is great for the intestines. Some studies suggest that probiotic bacteria in yoghurt can protect pregnant women from the effects of heavy metal exposure. Frozen yoghurt is the best alternative for ice cream which is full of sugar.
Bananas are great for gut health due to the high fibre content. But it is also high in resistant starch that has prebiotic properties. Resistant starch is hard to digest and functions similar to soluble fibre. They can improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar, and reduce appetite. The resistant starch ends up in the large intestine without digesting. This is good news for good bacteria as they can feed on it. It is high in pectin too which can lower the chances of colon cancer.
Ginger is another gut friendly food commonly used in Indian cuisine. It is known for its spicy scent and warming effect. Ginger has at least 14 compounds in it that can enhance your health. One such compound called zingerone can bind to pain receptors and reduce digestive discomforts. Drinking ginger tea after a heavy meal will lower the risk of heartburn. Ginger can also reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, cell death, and risk of stomach ulcers. It also fights off the growth of infectious bacteria in the gut.
Garlic is one of the natural prebiotics (food for gut bacteria). There are up to 3 kg of bacteria in the human body. Feeding them is equally important for your well being. Adding garlic to every diet will eliminate the requirement of prebiotic supplements. Bloating is one of the signs that your gut bacteria are starving. Garlic has high prebiotic fibres than other foods because it is high in inulin which is a functional fibre aka non-digestible carbohydrates. It has the ability to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and prevent the growth of pathogens at the same time.
Also Read: Nine Foods That Help To Ease Constipation
Miso is a staple in Japanese cuisine and has become popular in Asian cuisine too. Miso is a flavourful paste made from fermented soybeans. Japanese begin their day with miso soup to wake up the body and stimulate digestion. Since it is fermented, it is rich in gut-friendly bacteria. Bringing more good bacteria will enrich the intestinal flora. Try to buy unpasteurised miso that is rich in enzymes as they have a higher content of beneficial microbiome. Miso can boost the immune system and improve overall health too.
Kimchi is another Asian gem. This Korean dish tops the list of gut-friendly foods. Kimchi is a pickle-like, spicy, fermented cabbage dish. Koreans have been making Kimchi for centuries and it has become a staple food. It is slowly gaining a superfood status globally. Similar to yoghurt, it is alive with active probiotic culture. Kimchi will improve digestion and immunity. It also lowers the amount of free radicals and pro-oxidants in the body. The probiotics in Kimchi can eliminate toxic substances in the colon which contributes to the ageing process.
Also Read: Nine Foods That Cause Constipation
Sourdough bread is in vogue right now. Health-conscious social media influencers and food enthusiasts are in love with sourdough. The fact is that it doesn't need kneading has contributed to this popularity. But it is one of the most gut-friendly foods. The starter of sourdough which is the raising agent is rich with a range of wild gut bugs including lactobacillus strain (a popular good bacteria). The starter is given some time to work on the dough (made of flour and sugar) before baking. The bacteria present in the starter feed on the sugar and starch during this period and grow in number.
This probiotic drink is one of the most popular gut-friendly foods. Kombucha is a fermented tea that is rich in probiotics and antioxidants. Kombucha can be made at home once you have a SCOBY - the culture. The drink forms a mushroom-like film on the surface, which is the living symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. It can improve digestion and fight inflammation. This healthy beverage has acetic acid, which is formed during fermentation. This can kill disease-causing bacteria in the gut. It is also known to detoxify the system and boost immunity.
Almonds are also great for nurturing the gut bacteria. It is a prebiotic food that acts as a fuel for the growth of intestinal flora. Almonds are one of the easily available foods of gut health. It is rich in vitamin E, which is good for gut bugs. But the almond lipid is particularly good for the growth of beneficial bacteria. Almonds are good at improving digestion too, which in turn increases the rate of good bacteria.
Mediterranean diet is known to be the healthiest one in the lot. And olive plays a major role in it. This plant-based fat also happens to one of the gut-friendly foods. Sitosterol in it prevents the small intestine from absorbing cholesterol and stimulate the absorption of calcium and iron. It enhances bacterial diversity and optimises insulin sensitivity.