Do you have the guts?
Idiomatically speaking, having guts represents bravery or courage. But this blog will focus on your gastrointestinal tract, also known as the gut. From breaking down the food you eat and absorbing its nutrients to sending signals to your brain, your gut is responsible for keeping your overall health at peak.
If you have the guts, then continue reading to find out more!
The Gut Bacteria
The gut, scientifically speaking, is the digestive system’s passageway that leads from the mouth to the rear. Within the gut is the gut microbiome (aka gut flora), which contains all types of microorganisms like bacteria that play a crucial role in human health and disease.
Your gut is made up of the following:
• Small Intestine
• Anal Canal
A healthy gut contributes to a stronger immune system, a better mood, better digestive health, and a healthier heart, Gastroenterologist Dr. Sabine Hazan said.
The gut utilizes the intestinal bacteria and nerves within you to regulate gut health and even mental health. The gut-brain axis is the connection between your brain and gut. It influences your mood. The reason why you feel butterflies in your stomach when you feel excited and anxious is that your gut communicates to your brain through thousands of nerves. So, when your gut is not well taken care of, your brain might be affected.
Just like anywhere else, diversity is also important in your gut (aka microbiome diversity.) Meaning, there should be a balance of bacteria in your gut to keep a healthy microbiome, avoiding illnesses and chronic diseases.
When the gut is left unchecked, diseases like irritable bowel syndrome–a common condition affecting a person’s stomach and intestines– may occur. IBS causes abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. Moreover, it may affect your immune system, making you vulnerable to harmful bacteria and viruses, Dr. Michele Helfgott, MD, PPG - Integrative Medicine, said.
What are the Best Foods for Your Gut?
The types of food you eat play a key role in influencing the gut microbiome. A balanced diet containing a variety of fiber-rich foods is ideal for a healthy gut. Here’s a guide to the best and most accessible gut-health foods:
Surely, you’ve expected yogurt from this list of gut-healthy foods as it is famously marketed as good for the gut. Well, it's true! It is an excellent source of beneficial bacteria, namely probiotics. Probiotic bacteria are beneficial living microorganisms that naturally reside in your body. It delivers significant health benefits when consumed.
Eating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt may help you fight off bloating and stomach constipation to avoid unwanted weight gain.
Tip: You might want to look for high-protein yogurt that is sugar-free for extra health points.
Oats are a famous breakfast meal that everyone loves. Fortunately, it is gut-friendly! It is rich in beta-glucans, a soluble fiber that keeps energy levels stable due to its gel-like consistency that moves through your digestive tract slowly.
It also maintains a healthy blood sugar level to prevent the risk of insulin resistance and reduce levels of inflammation. Additionally, it minimizes sugar cravings and overeating by keeping you full.
Tip: Blending oats into a healthy smoothie is a smart idea if you are on the go. You can also add your favorite fruits as an alternative to artificial sweeteners.
Compared to traditional white bread, sourdough bread holds a higher content of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants due to its unique fermentation process. The lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough bread help reduce the amount of phytic acid-- a compound that hinders your body from absorbing nutrients. Because of this, sourdough bread makes the digestive process and nutrient absorption more effective.
Tip: It is recommended to buy sourdough bread from an artisan baker or farmer's market to ensure that it is made using the traditional sourdough method.
Just like yogurt, almonds are also a rich source of probiotics, which means your gut will love them as well. Probiotic foods are packed with other nutrients your body needs such as fiber, fatty acids, and polyphenols.
Tip: A handful of almonds instead of fried foods for a snack is enough for your gut to thank you.
Bananas might be the most accessible food on this list. Chances are you have one sitting in your kitchen. Good news: the friendly bacteria in your stomach loves bananas, hence it is nourishing to your gut.
This wonder fruit is high in healthy prebiotics called inulin. Eating a banana helps maintain a regular bowel movement, and relieves stomach aches and constipation.
Tip: Avoid ultra-processed foods and grab your overly ripened bananas to make banana pancakes or banana cake.
Sauerkraut is not your typical gut-friendly food. It has an interesting tangy taste, is loaded with probiotics, and offers many health benefits.
It is made from fermented cabbage. During the fermentation process, microorganisms eat the sugar in the cabbage and produce organic acids that make nutrient absorption in your body easier. This fermented food is similar to a Korean specialty called Kimchi, which also promotes healthy gut bacteria.
Tip: Sauerkraut is best served on a sandwich or with a sausage.
Keeping a healthy gut is vital to good overall health. Its primary function is to digest food so the body can absorb nutrients and provide energy. A healthy diet and eating nutritious foods like those outlined above play a key role in maintaining a healthy gut.
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