Best Foods Near You for Your Gut Health
Gut health is all the rage these days. And the best way to take care of the good microorganisms in the gut. According to doctors and research, nourish them with healthy foods. To compile a list of some of the best foods for gut health, 24/7 Wall St. consulted registered dietitians and nutritionists and reviewed several studies on what benefits certain foods may have on the gut microbiota. Here is a list of the best foods near you for your gut health.
Legumes in general benefit gut health due to protein and carbs they contain. Beans, in particular, offer a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, according to Gorin. Fiber is great for stimulating digestion, as well as feeding gut bacteria. White and kidney beans, for example, are used in a variety of dishes. These include salads, stews, soups, and grain bowls.
Dark chocolate helps gut health not because of something in the sweet treat. But because of how good bacteria living in our gut interact with antioxidants and fiber in cocoa. It contains polyphenols, which are compounds with antioxidant properties, that help the production of healthy microbes in the colon.
“However, the amount of cocoa tested to produce these results was a rather large amount. Which means the harmful effects of all the sugar and fats would likely outweigh any real gut health benefits,” Fitzgerald said. It can still be enjoyed in moderation. “Look for higher percentages of cocoa as that means it contains less sugar.”
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Bananas are one of the best sources of prebiotics, which can be thought of as the food for probiotics. They contain resistant starch, which ferments in the large intestine and basically becomes food for the good bacteria in the gut. Thus improving gut health.
Peas are a good source of soluble fiber, Fitzgerald said. Soluble fibers “help to add bulk and move food through the gut.”
Other benefits of soluble fiber include lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugars, and feeding healthy gut bacteria, she noted. Fiber stimulates the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. There is evidence that people on fiber-rich diets have more indolepropionic acid. Its an anti-inflammatory chemical made by gut bacteria, which may help prevent diabetes, according to a recent Finnish study.
This may not be enough to win over broccoli haters, but there is evidence. According to Penn State University researchers, cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, contain an organic compound called indole glucosinolates that breaks down in the stomach. They help the gut flora maintain a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria. Broccoli also helps reduce inflammation in the colon.
In general, one of the best sources of fiber, other than fruits and vegetables, are whole grains, Fitzgerald noted. Whole grains contain indigestible fiber. Which is fermented by the gut microbiota, producing fatty acids that help maintain proper gut health. Whole grains help reduce the amount of Enterobacteriaceae. Bacteria found in the intestinal flora that can trigger inflammation, according to a 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, which research has shown to protect against colon cancer. Dietary fiber is not digested in the small intestine. The fiber makes it to the colon, where it promotes healthy composition of gut microbiota. Antioxidants in purple sweet potatoes stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. These two probiotic strains that also play a role in preventing and treating certain infections.