What are the best foods for gut health?
Good gut health not only plays a crucial role in ensuring we have a healthy digestive system, it also contributes to a number of other aspects of our health that are often over looked.
A healthy gut ensures we are able to absorb nutrients from the foods we eat, improves our immunity, modulates signals to the brain and even impacts our mood. Research is showing it can also affect other areas of our health like how we store fat, regulate blood glucose levels, control appetite, and even play a role in determining our disease risk.
Your gut microbiome refers to the trillions of microorganisms (and their genetic material) that live in your intestinal tract. These microorganisms are mainly bacteria. Many things can affect how your microbiome is formed and research is showing that having a large variety of strains of beneficial bacteria is positive for our health.
Our microbiome is formed during early childhood – this is why it’s so important that children eat a healthy and varied diet and are encouraged to play outdoors and be exposed to as many environments as possible. Other things that can affect our microbiome are illness, medications and stress. These factors continue to shape our gut microbiome throughout our lives – did you know that changing your diet can result in positive changes to your microbiome in as little as a couple of days?
So it is fair to say that building up ones gut microbiome with beneficial bacteria should be a key consideration with our diets. Below are some foods that have been shown to be great for gut health;
- A variety of different coloured vegetables and fruits, legumes, wholegrains, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds – these foods contain high levels of fibre, antioxidants and polyphenols.
- Oily fish, nuts and seeds – they have a healthy fat profile higher in omega-3 fats.
- Yoghurts and kefirs that contain live cultures and probiotics.
Although there are plenty of products and supplements available now, ensuring the bulk of your diet is full of the above wholefoods is the best approach to optimal gut health.