I’m going to assume that many and most will have heard at least a passing comment or three in regards to the importance of gut health.
With danger of massively over simplifying a complex and still emerging area of science, I’m going to attempt to give a quick summary as to what all the big deal is about.
So in that tummy of yours there’s a pretty amazing collection of microbes. Although you have microbes all over your body, the ones in your digestive system are particularly powerful. There’s billions of these lil lovelies and they play a powerful role in both your physical health and your mental and emotional well-being.
The links between the microbes found in your gut and other systems in your body can’t be overstated. For instance, the gut and the brain are connected by the vagus nerve. Many powerful neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which influences both mood and gastrointestinal activity, are made in the gut, (ever had a ‘gut feeling’, ‘butterflies in your stomach’ or a ‘sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach’??).
Ok, so they’re mega important and getting it right can impact everything from your mood, memory, and learning, to your energy levels and capacity to recover from the rigours of life. Getting it wrong has been linked to obesity, depression and less we forget, your capacity to digest food properly!
I’m going to present a simple list of foods and drinks that can promote a healthy gut and therefore, a healthy you. This list was provided by Dr Joanna McMillan on her super accessible and absolutely free (?!) podcast series only available (to my knowledge) on audible – Gutfull: what to eat for a happy gut.
- Amaryllidaceae family – onions, garlic, leeks
- Cruciferous family – cauliflower, kale, sprouts
- Legumes – kidney beans, chick peas, lentils
- Whole grains – bread, pasta, rice
- Fermented foods & drinks – sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, yogurt, kombucha and kefir
- Berries and cherries
- Teas, herbal teas, coffee & cacao
- Leafy greens
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Nuts & seeds – unsalted & raw are best
These foods combine a host of gut friendly compounds such as probiotics; food for microbes in your digestive system, and probiotics; which can introduce new healthy bacterial strains. These are alongside polyphenols; plant components that act as antioxidants that protect against inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
Now a quick word of caution from Dr Jo. She makes a super important point on these foods. There are some here which straight away you may well associate with making you, well, fart. A lot.
If this is the case for you,don’t despair. It could likely be that your lil gut microbes just aren’t used to these often fibre dense food choices and it may take some time for them to adjust. Don’t be put off though and just take it slowly by introducing them literally a spoonful at a time in your meals.