Nutrition: Foods You Should Eat NOW to Support Gut Health

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Why the gut is so important.

About 80% of our immunity lies in our gut, making its integrity a huge precursor to so many happenings in the body!

For example, gut health has a major impact on the body’s cardiovascular, nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. If you want to change your health and you’re not sure where to start, begin with the gut.

Did you know?

Your gut is only one cell thick. While prone to damage from inadequate chewing, food allergies, and other factors, it’s simple structure is easier to repair. Consuming foods that line your gut and fortify it with beneficial bacteria protect intestinal health and function.

Foods to start eating NOW to support your gut.

Below is a list of foods I recommend most often to address general gut health with clients. These are foods you will most likely have in your pantry.

Dark leafy greens

Dark leafy greens such as arugula, kale, chard, spinach, lettuce fortify your gut with good bacteria. When choosing greens, choose vegetables that are grown locally and seasonally to maximize nutrient content. Dark leafy greens are loaded with vitamin C, carotenes, vitamin C, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2 and more! Start with the freshest you can buy and go from there.

Probiotic foods

Foods such as yogurt and pickled vegetables will provide your gut with a diverse array of beneficial bacterial. Again, source the best you possibly can. You can even make your own kefir. Non-dairy yogurt will work just as well for those avoiding dairy.

When choosing pickled vegetables, make sure you look in the refrigerated food section. Here is a great easy recipe for pickled onions,                which are a staple in our fridge.

Healthy fiber

Consume fiber in the form of two cups of veggies with two meals a day. This can be tough to do consistently. To keep it more manageable, try to consume just one cup of vegetables a day go from there. Keep in mind that when consuming any type of veggie, greater diversity from smaller amounts is better than smaller diversity of larger amounts.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are what your bacteria—a.k.a. probiotics—eat. If probiotics are not fed adequately, they can’t make beneficial byproducts in your gut. Some sources of prebiotics are garlic, onions, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, oats.

*Tip – to make sure you are consuming prebiotics and veggies regularly, try this: On medium heat, sauté half a chopped onion in your favorite fat or cooking oil for five minutes. Add an entire pound of spinach and reduce to low heat, stirring constantly. Stir until spinach is wilted. When cooled, divide vegetables amongst small, 1-2 oz containers and freeze. Pull out this mixture and add it to your meals!

Pineapple

Yes, pineapple! Pineapple contains a protein-digesting enzyme bromelain, which helps aid digestion. Make your friends jealous and sip this pineapple pina colada smoothie by the pool.

Turmeric

Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin, which protects cells from free radicals. In the colon, cell turnover is very quick, so we want to provide it with antioxidants on a consistent basis.

Add powdered turmeric to your food or hot drinks. Try my recipe for chai.

Flax seed

The beneficial fatty acids (“good fats”) in flax seed line the gut. Flax seeds feed good gut flora and help with elimination. Flax seeds also eliminate harmful estrogens in your body, which also supports hormonal health.

Sourcing is especially important with flaxseeds. Make sure you buy whole flaxseeds and either freeze or refrigerate them. When heated, flaxseeds lose their benefits. The easiest way to incorporate them into your diet is to add them to smoothies. One to 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds will provide the above benefits.

Cold-water fish

Salmon, mackerel, and anchovies are good sources of cold-water fish. Look for “wild caught” at all times. Consuming cold-water fish provides your body with essential fatty acids. These are considered essential because your body needs them but does not make them. Essential fatty acids line the gut and protect gut cells from free radical damage.

Mucilaginous plants

Okra and aloe are great examples of this. The gel-like consistency of these foods provide the gut with gentle support and protection.

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References

Murray, Michael, Joseph Pizzorno. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Atria Books.

Murray, Michael (2012). Natural Medicine. Atria Books.

Nutritional Therapy Association. (2020). Culinary Wellness Pt. 1 Student Guide [PDF Document].

Retrieved from: https://nutritionaltherapy.instructure.com/courses/202/pages/emd-%7C-

core-reading?module_item_id=12148.

Romm, Aviva. (2017). Adrenal Thyroid Revolution. Harper One.