Your gut—previously thought of as the body’s waste disposal system—is actually an influential biological ecosystem that has a significant say in your overall health. Feeling sluggish, stressed out, or experiencing physical discomfort like bloating could all point to an out-of-balance microbiome (the bacterial ecosystem in your gut).
Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that interact with almost every cell in your body; influencing everything from digestion to brain health to your immune system (and more!). So how do you keep your gut’s ecosystem healthy, ensure the “good” bacteria thrive and the “bad” are kept at bay? While you probably know that sugary and fried foods aren’t your gut’s best friend (bad bacteria and yeast love processed foods and sugar!), incorporating some of the below gut-friendly foods is one of the best ways to support and maintain optimal gut health:
1. Fermented Drinks & Food
Probiotics are the "good bugs" that your gut needs to help your body function optimally. By eating probiotic-rich foods you are adding good bacteria to your gut and helping keep your gut bacteria in balance. Fermented drinks like kvass, coconut or water kefir, and kombucha as well as foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and coconut yogurt are all powerful ways to inoculate your gut with good bacteria.
2. Bone Broth
Once you've got good bugs in your gut, you need to feed them “prebiotics” so they can continue to flourish and keep making more good bacteria. Lightly-brewed bone broth (a broth that is brought to a boil, then reduced to a simmer, covered, and cooks for at least 10-12 hours) is the pinnacle of most gut health protocols. Bone broth is a source of minerals, like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s also rich in gelatin—which literally acts to seal the gut from “leaking” bacteria and toxins through the intestinal wall.
3. Leafy Greens & Avocados
Leafy greens and vegetables provide your gut bacteria with the prebiotic fiber they need to grow and do their jobs effectively while killing off the “bad” bacteria. Avocados are also great for gut health because they’re high fiber which improves metabolism while they also contain a source of healthy fats.
Turmeric’s long list of natural benefits include being anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting. Since inflammation is at the root cause of so many ailments (including a compromised gut) turmeric is a powerhouse at nurturing the body by targeting temporary, occasional discomfort.
5. Soft-cooked Vegetables
There are many great starchy root vegetables that help build a diverse gut microbiome. Artichokes, sweet potato, radicchio, garlic, lentils, and olives are strong contributors to gut health since they are a good source of prebiotics that feed existing beneficial gut bacteria. Pro tip: soft-cook and puree vegetables like sweet potato to make them easier for your gut to digest.
Your body contains trillions of microbes, most of which are beneficial. Incredibly, the most dense population of these microbes is found in your gut where they’re critical to your digestion, immune function, and weight regulation. What you eat isn't just nutrition for you, it also feeds the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut which is why incorporating gut-loving foods like these is an immensely important component of giving your body’s overall functioning and wellbeing a much-needed boost.