There are a wide range of ways we can use food to boost the health of our gut – from avoiding too many fatty, processed foods and drinks, to consuming a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and wholegrains – not to mention fermented foods and probiotics.
Here, naturopath Sharon Hespe outlines her top five foods that are especially good for gut health.
Fantastic for your gut health because it can help to prevent indigestion. Sharon says it’s the perfect natural anti-inflammatory for your gut.
“Turmeric may help to improve intestinal barrier function as well as increasing enzyme activity, helping to digest your foods.”
“I recommend using it as you would garlic and ginger when cooking. You can use fresh or powdered (ground) turmeric. It’s one of the main ingredients in a curry. Also think ‘golden lattes’ – made with turmeric and coconut milk,” Sharon says.
Bone broth supports your gut health by providing essential nutrients to repair the gut lining, and are also important for building up bacteroides, an important species of health-promoting gut bacteria, Sharon says.
“Bacteroides help your gut process carbohydrates, initiating the breakdown of fibre from fruits and vegetables.”
It is easy to incorporate meat stock into your diet; simply slow cook any type of meat with the bone included for a few hours in water.
Not a fan of meals with bones included? Slow cook them in water, remove the meat from the bone for eating, and reserve the liquid as stock for soups or risottos.
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Probiotics - for more than just your gut health
This spice helps your gut move food through the intestine so it does not sit and ferment, bloat and cause pain, Sharon says. “Ginger stimulates the migrating motor complex, which is when your gut starts to move the food through your digestive system.”
Ginger tea is a great way to get more ginger into your diet – simply gut a few slices of fresh ginger, pour boiling water over the top and you have the perfect ginger tea. You can also add ginger to the cooking process as ginger really adds to the flavour of many foods.
Flaxseeds contain lignans that your gut metabolises to enterolactones.
“Certain medications may lower the levels of enterolactones you need, which leads to poor immunity and poor gut health,” Sharon says.
Flaxseed meal is easy to get into your diet, you can buy it in most supermarkets and health food stores, and can be added to a breakfast smoothie, sprinkled on the top of your porridge or added to your fave baked good recipe (switch up white flour for wholemeal for an even healthier, fibre rich, gut friendly food.)
Sharon recommends quality olive oils because they increase enzyme activity in the gut. That, in turn, ensures your food can be digested properly. Olive oil can help prevent gut dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) and decrease gut permeability.
Olive oil can be used to make salad dressings, drizzled onto cooked vegetables, or stirred through pasta before adding your preferred topping.