Your digestive tract is home to roughly 100 trillion bacteria that are involved in keeping your digestive tract operating at peak efficiency, and by eating a healthy gut diet, you help keep it that way. The bacteria in your digestive tract actually play a much more important role in your overall health than you think. Various studies have linked gut microbes to our weight, inflammation, and even our current mood. Collectively, the bacteria in the gut is referred to as the gut flora or gut microbiota—a complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract.
Gut bacteria help break down the food we eat, producing usable sources of energy, helping to synthesize vitamins, preventing harmful bacteria from propagating, and producing molecules that impact gut function. There are about 1,000 different bacterial strains that inhabit the intestines whose numbers are specifically balanced to ensure productivity and prevent self-harm to the gut.
It is this balance that needs to be maintained to prevent bacteria-associated complications. The food we eat or choose not to eat can play an important role in gut flora health.
Foods to add to a healthy gut diet
Apple cider vinegar: Helps the body create hydrochloric acid (HCL), which breaks down fats, carbohydrates, and protein. This helps to ensure that you are extracting all the nutrients possible from the food you eat. Apple cider vinegar can also aid in weight loss, relieving acid reflux, and soothing irritable bowel syndrome.
Kombucha: Packed with probiotics, kombucha promotes the proliferation of good bacteria in the gut. It is made from the fermentation of sugar in tea by bacteria yeasts.
Dairy or lactose-free yogurt: Many people suffer from lactose intolerance, making many dairy-free yogurts made from almond, soy, or rice milk much easier for them to digest. These products also contain gut loving live bacteria cultures that help to promote gut health.
Fermented coffee: Drinking coffee has been shown to improve athletic performance, particularly for endurance sports, as it provides you energy. However, coffee may cause digestive issues in some individuals. This is where fermented coffee can help—a relatively new innovation to this health food stores. By using fermented coffee beans, you can remove the bitter, heartburn-causing notes that regular coffee often induces.
Sauerkraut: A naturally fermented food that has the microorganisms Lactobacillus, a very important contributor to your overall gut health.
Mangoes: A promoter of good gut bacteria, mangos are not only great tasting, but are a great choice for promoting gut health. They have also been proven to help reduce body fat and control blood sugar.
Yogurt: Regular plain yogurt has a very high number of beneficial probiotics that can help repair the gut as well as be beneficial for conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Kefir: Popular in eastern Europe, this tart, liquid yogurt is great for your guts as it contains at least 10 live active strains of bacteria.
Sprouted grains: An easy to digest bread product compared to other traditional wheat based bread, sprouted grain bread makes it easier for nutrients to be absorbed into the body. This is due to enzymes found in the bread that help to break down proteins and carbohydrates.
Coconut oil: This medium chain fatty acid is an antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal. It also contains lauric and caprylic acids, which are fatty acids that help you kill off harmful yeast and bacteria.
Wild salmon: Abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are powerful anti-inflammatory substances that can aid in the healing process of gut tissue.
Garlic: Considered a prebiotic which helps to feed and fuel the existing gut flora present in your gut.
Miso: It is recommended to drink this soup in moderation, as it contains high amounts of sodium. Miso is a good source of protein and fiber. It is also rich in probiotics.
Chocolate: Probiotic variants can contain nearly 10 billion bacterial cells to support a healthy and thriving gut flora. Chocolate may be the most delicious way to get your prebiotic and probiotic fix.
Collagen: One of the largest proteins in the human body, as it helps hold cells together. Collagen in our diet on a daily basis can help heal an inflamed gut as well as slow down the aging process, both inside your body and out.
Bone broth: A stock made from the bones and marrow of a chicken or cow, usually slow cooked for about 24 to 72 hours. Bone broth is one of the most nutrient rich foods on the planet. These nutrients also help to heal and seal the gut lining of the small and large intestine.
Onions: Considered high in prebiotics, onions help to promote the growth of good bacteria. It is recommended to eat fresh onions instead of more refined onion products.
Kvass: A fermented beverage that is commonly made from rye bread. This allows it to have great digestive health benefits.
High fiber foods: These include foods such as artichokes, green peas, lentils, black and lima beans, almonds, raspberries, and apples. Fiber helps to efficiently move food through the digestive system, helping to prevent cases of constipation, hemorrhoids, and even digestive diseases.
Kimchi: A fermented food rich in probiotics. Kimchi can be especially beneficial for those suffering from stomach and bowel pain, inflammation, and even leaky gut syndrome.
Foods to avoid for healthy gut
Processed foods: Often packed with sugars, preservatives, additives, coloring, chemical, and a whole bunch of empty calories that can lead to an unbalanced gut microbiome.
Chlorinated water: Chlorine is often added to tap water to help kill off bacteria or harmful substances that can be found within. However, too much chlorine can kill the good bacteria found in your gut
Meat: Higher levels of meat intake have been linked with increases in higher numbers of less desirable species of gut bacteria
Sugar: A food source for bacteria, eating too much of it can cause an imbalance in the normal bacterial levels in the gut.
High fructose corn syrup: Found in much of the junk food and beverages we consume today, high fructose corn syrup is linked to diabetes, fatty liver disease, and other inflammatory conditions.
Artificial sweeteners: Known for causing blood sugar and insulin levels to spike, increasing your risk of insulin resistance and weight gain.
Gluten: A protein found in wheat, gluten can trigger the production of zonulin, a biochemical that opens up the tight junctions of your intestinal wall. This can lead to leaky gut syndrome.
Dairy: A common cause of bloating and abdominal discomfort, dairy can be responsible for an imbalance of gut flora.
Soy: Often considered a milk and/or meat substitute, soy can be bad for the human gut as it can be extremely difficult to digest. However, if properly prepared and fermented as they do in Asian cultures, soy may be a tolerable option.
Sample meal plan for healthy
It is recommended to speak to a medical professional before starting any sort of new diet or treatment plan that affects your health. They can also help tailor a meal plan that best fits your needs. The following are some simple recommendations that you can try today.
Water – At least 2 liters of spring water and herbal teas throughout the day.
Morning supplements – 1 serve aloe vera + Spirulina green powder + 1 serve glutamine powder in 200ml pure water + 2 fish oil capsules + 1 serve digestive enzymes
Breakfast – Quinoa and grated pear porridge cooked with almond milk and 1tbs flaxseed meal + 100g unsweetened natural yogurt
Snack – Handful raw nuts + green tea
Lunch – Mixed seasonal vegetable salad with a palm serve size of grilled organic / free range chicken seasoned with garlic, tamari soy and turmeric powder. Dressing 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar + 1 tbsp. extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
Snack – Raw vegetables + guacamole (mashed avocado, chopped tomato, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, and seasoning)
Dinner – Palm serve size of baked salmon with seasonal baked vegetables with coconut oil + side serve of kimchi
Evening supplements – 1 serve aloe vera + Spirulina green powder + 1 serve glutamine powder in 200ml pure water + 2 fish oil capsules + 1 serve probiotics