The best 10 gut health foods
Whether it's a ready-to-eat pizza, crisps or chocolate croissants: In our stressful everyday lives, a lot of "heavy food" that burdens your gut and digestive tract ends up on our plates. Even if no one likes to talk about it, many people suffer from bloating, nausea or just a heavy feeling after eating a meal. Fortunately, in most cases they are "only" functional, i.e. there are no real illnesses behind them. So making a few diet changes by looking at what goes on your plate and what you should stay away from can promise immediate relief.
But already, here’s a quick list of foods you should prioritise for your gut health:
- Yoghurt (yes, even vegan ones!)
- Olive oil
- Brussels sprouts
The key to a healthy microbiome and gut health is to maintain the balance between the nearly 1,000 different species of bacteria in your gut. There are two ways to improve this balance: You can either help your own bacteria grow by providing them with the right food (prebiotics) or add live, friendly bacteria to your diet (probiotics). Sounds scientific but no worries, those two digestive helpers can be easily found in staple foods (if you know where to look). Ready to heal your relationship with your gut? Then let’s have a look at prebiotics and probiotics and how they work.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are foods that are high in fibre and therefore promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Many fruits and vegetables contain prebiotics, especially those with complex carbohydrates such as dietary fibre and resistant starch. These carbohydrates cannot be broken down by human cells, but are only converted through biomechanical processes involving bacteria.
The following high-fibre foods belong to your gut bacteria’s favourites: Legumes, such as beans and peas, oats, bananas, berries, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, garlic, leeks, onions.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live, healthy strains of bacteria that naturally reside in your gut (e.g. bifidobacteria) and help maintain the balance of your gut microbiome.
Like prebiotics, probiotics can be naturally found in foods. The best known probiotic food is yoghurt. The bacteria used to ferment the milk remain in the final product – and make their way to your gut.
Other examples of probiotic foods are: Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea, tempeh, kefir (dairy and non-dairy), pickles (unpasteurised), pickled vegetables (unpasteurised).Some of these foods, like kefir and sauerkraut, are even synbiotic, meaning they are both probiotic and prebiotic!
To keep the healthy bacteria alive, it is important to support the intake of probiotics with prebiotics.
Recipes to support gut health
So now you know all the theories around gut healthy foods, let’s use them in recipes! And just like always, we want to make things as simple as possible - because as we all established in the beginning, we’re way too busy sometimes to cook chickpeas for an hour and ferment homemade sauerkraut. And what is easier than drinking to your gut health? Cheers to a happy gut and a happy you!
- Tropical Smoothie: Say hello to paradise in a glass with this tropical smoothie recipe loaded with delicious tropical super fruits. And that’s not all: sip by sip, this smoothie will actually be beneficial for your gut!
- Vegan Mango Lassi: Latte or yoghurt? Lassi! This trendy drink from India has taken the world by a storm; with this simple recipe, you can easily whip up a vegan mango lassi at home and support your gut health.
- Lemon, Cucumber & Mint Water: Be ready to feel refreshed with this lemon, cucumber and mint detox water - a summer favourite with inulin and digestive enzymes for a happy belly.
The worst foods for gut health
You’re eager to add all the gut friendly foods to your diet but sadly, some have to take a back burner to keep your gut happy. That does mean restriction or punishing your body by depriving you of what you want. However there are a number of foods that, when eaten in excess, upset you stomach and gut. And looking out for them might help you in preventing the next stomach cramp, bloat or mid afternoon slump (especially when you know that you need to bring your A game!). The following are particularly detrimental to healthy digestion:
- High-fat meat and sausages
- High-fat cheese
- Smoked or cured meat
- Highly salty foods
- Hydrogenated fats (e.g. in ready-made products, biscuits, cakes)
- Low-fibre white flour products (bread, pastries, pizza)
- Foods high in (artificial) sugar
As with everything, it's the quantity that counts. So enjoy a few pieces of chocolate and have a slice of cake at the party - but avoid heaping all kinds of hearty food on your plate during times of stress.