DIGESTIVE NEWS & REVIEW:
Have you ever wondered about the bacteria in your gut and what foods it takes to make them happy. This is the Gut Loving Diet. These foods feed your good bacteria and starve out the bad bacteria. They are whole foods, not too expensive, readily available. You also don’t have to be a Cordon Bleu Chef to whip them up in your kitchen.
These are unfashionable right now with the Paleo movement in full swing, but gut bacteria love whole grains especially in the form of oats, rye and wholegrain rice. For this reason, whole grains have made it into the gut loving diet. If you have a dodgy gut, rinse and soak overnight in acidulated water (lemon juice or apple cider vinegar added) before rinsing again and cooking the next day to get the best from them.
Know as the most abundant antioxidants in the gut loving diet; polyphenols are present in plants. Only a small percentage of polyphenols are broken down in the small intestine, and the rest make their way to the large intestine where they act as a prebiotic for the gut bacteria. Plus, they increase the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, and they inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Some foods that have polyphenols are apples, blueberries, black currants, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, black grapes, pomegranates, plums, red wine, green tea and peppermint tea.
Veggies are again rich in polyphenols and essential to the gut loving diet. These contain insoluble and soluble fibre which helps prevent constipation. The insoluble fibre absorbs water and expands as it moves through the digestive tract. It has a bulking, and softening action decreases pressure inside the intestinal tract which can calm the symptoms of IBS.
Green leafy vegetables have been shown to boost a pathway in the intestinal tract which helps produce a type of cell that repairs the lining of the gut and balances both good and bad bacteria. Ensure you have lots of different varieties with as many colours. Think about all the colours of the rainbow – red, blue, purple, yellow, orange, white, green to get the most phytonutrients from your food. Have them in your fridge for easy access.
Nuts and Seeds
All nuts and seeds are super high in fibre. However, phytic acid can stop you from absorbing their goodness. Activation is the best way to improve their digestibility. Soak them in acidulated water then dehydrate until dry.
Almonds, pistachios, chestnuts, and pecans, as well as hazelnuts, and flaxseeds need to be cracked to be of benefit. Other seeds that are ideal are sesame seeds, pepitas, and sunflower seeds. But, these seeds can cause trouble for some people. So, it is important to start eating them slowly; a small handful is enough.
Fructooligosaccharides(FOS) are short and medium chain sugar molecules that our body can’t digest (aka fermentable fibres). They pass through the digestive system and also become food for good bacteria and yeast.
FOS stimulate the growth of good bacteria, and they reduce pathogenic bacteria, a pure prebiotic. These are high FODMAP foods, and they can cause discomfit for many people. So tread with caution. The ones mostly used are Jerusalem artichoke, yacon tubers, chicory roots, dandelion roots, garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus and globe artichokes.
Generally, Galactooligosaccharides do not cause the same level of discomfit in people with gut issues or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). They too stimulate the protective bacteria and limits the growth of the bad guys. Useful as they improve intestinal mucosa and villi function. These can cause problems for someone with Intestinal Permeability.
Bloating and gas can be side effects of adding these foods into the diet. This side effect doesn’t usually last more than a few days. Some of my favourites are legumes and members of the Brassica family (vegetables) such as Brussels Sprouts, cauliflower, and collards, along with cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, and Chinese cabbage. Chinese veggies, turnips, and mustard greens, as well as fresh beans, beetroot, and rye sourdough. If you’re gluten intolerant, then try sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and LSA mix (Linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds).
Resistant starch is not something we can digest. It is not a fermentable fibre, but it has very similar actions. It travels through the digestive tract untouched as it reaches the colon and this is where the bacteria go crazy for it. Again this gem reduces pathogenic bacteria and increases beneficial bacteria. Some excellent sources are legumes, red lentils, and kidney beans, as well as adzuki beans, green bananas, and cooked and cooled potatoes. Cassava, sweet potato, and taro are also ideal, as is rye bread, cashews and oats – with higher amounts of resistant starch found in uncooked foods.
Other Prebiotic Like Foods
Some of the best prebiotic like foods are brown rice, orange carrots, black currants, and cocoa, along with olives and good healthy oils like olive and coconut oil.
The ‘Gut Loving Diet’ is easy to follow. There are no special foods to eat, and little preparation is needed. Just make sure you include the foods that improve your gut in your diet. It’s that simple.
When you first add these foods to your diet, you will experience a small amount of gas and bloating. This gas issue should be a short term problem only. If prolonged, then you may need to do some gut healing work before you eat some of the harder to digest groups like the FOS and Inulin.
Your gut bacteria will thank you for adding these foods to your diet. Over time your health will improve, especially if you eat these foods daily.
About Our Digestive News and Review Columnist – Ange Sinclair
Ange Sinclair, founder of Digestive Detective is a Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist. She has a special interest in Digestive Disorders. She helps you beat the bloat, purge your pain and find the root cause of your problem using nutrition, herbal medicine and supplements.
Disclaimer: The information published in this column are the author’s professional knowledge and opinion. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.