Food that heals the gut: what should be in your diet?
Things you’ll learn in this blog
Your gut might seem innocuous, but it can have a significant impact on your health. It can help you build a robust immune system, improve cardiovascular health, help you sleep better, improve mood, make it easier to digest food and even prevent certain autoimmune diseases and cancers.
You can do a few things to help improve your gut's health, but one of the most foolproof ways is eating a healthy diet. Not only will this improve your gut, but it will have a knock-on impact on other factors of your health.
So, if you want to heal your gut, boost your digestive system, and become an expert on gut-friendly foods, you’ve come to the right place. So, grab your notepad and let’s get started.
Why Your Diet is Important
“You can’t out-train a bad diet.”
It’s true, no matter how rigorous your exercise regime if you eat an unhealthy diet, you’ll not reach your goals.
And it’s the same for gut health - you can implement an exercise regimen and other things to improve it, but if you don’t take care of your diet, you’ll find it difficult to improve.
Suppose you eat a healthy diet and stick to it. In that case, you can experience benefits such as
- Lower risk of obesity
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Stronger bones
- Healthier skin, teeth, and eyes
- Increased mood
That’s barely scratching the surface, though, as plenty of other benefits come with this. Although following a healthy diet can be challenging, the pros far outweigh the cons.
- Related content: Exercise for gut health: 4 things you should be doing
What is a Healthy Gut?
But what exactly is gut health?
And - more importantly - is it possible to eat food that heals the gut?
Gut health refers to the overall health of your gut. Specifically, gut health is defined by functionality, the balance of bacteria, digestive health, and the absence of diseases like inflammatory bowel disease.
A healthy gut will have a nicely balanced combination of good bacteria (beneficial bacteria) and bad bacteria.
Conversely, an unhealthy gut consists of too many bad bacteria.
Remember, your gut has over 100 trillion microorganisms inside it. As soon as there’s an imbalance of bad bacteria, it can lead to various health-related problems, such as discomfort, heartburn, abdominal pain, and leaky gut syndrome. An unhealthy gut can even impact your body’s serotonin levels, which is the chemical that makes you happy and feels good.
Many things can throw off the balance in your gut, including; stress, lack of sleep and antibiotics. However, one of the most significant factors is diet.
- Related content: How to improve gut health
How Does Your Diet Affect Your Gut?
Your diet significantly influences your overall well-being and how healthy your gut is.
According to one study with Healthline, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables keeps a gut healthy while preventing the growth of some bacteria that causes diseases. In the medical field, it’s also universally agreed that a diet high in fiber usually contributes to a healthy gut microbiome.
However, if your diet contains excessive alcohol, sugary foods, and drinks, as well as foods that are high in saturated fats, your gut health will likely be poor.
Knowing this, it’s essential that you track and monitor the foods and drinks that you consume.
Can Foods Heal Gut Health?
The short answer is yes.
The good news for anyone with poor gut health is that certain foods can heal your gut health.
The first part of your health journey starts with changing your diet. Not only will this help to heal your gut, but it can also help you to achieve weight loss goals, boost your immune system, and much more.
Foods can help to improve and heal the gut by
- Building your gut microbiome
- Reducing the growth of bad bacteria
- Eliminating common problems, such as leaky gut syndrome
- Relieving digestive symptoms
- Making the gut more resilient (and less likely to be impacted by future sicknesses and bugs)
Therefore, whenever patients report gut-related problems to their doctors, they will usually be asked about their diet.
It’s the first intervention step to help improve gut health because it’s relatively cheap and easy to implement (and doesn’t require any medication).
5 Foods for Good Gut Health
If you want to start improving your gut health, here are five foods you should eat:
You probably already know that yogurts are good for improving gut health; this is because they are fermented. As a result, they contain tons of probiotics (the healthy gut bacteria and yeasts) which help to boost the gut and digestion.
Some yogurts, such as Greek yogurts, also assist in increasing the number of good bacteria in your gut. They also contain magnesium and zinc, which are both essential in bolstering the immune system.
You’ve probably heard that you should eat 5 a day. In reality, that is an arbitrary number plucked out of thin air that should be the minimum you eat per day. Adding vegetables to your diet is one of the quickest ways to improve health on multiple layers.
Because fiber is a crucial nutrient for digestion, plus they are filling so, they help steer you away from other things (i.e. sugary sweets) that you may crave if hungry.
If you want to make immediate improvements to your gut, you should be including brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and spinach.
In addition, leafy greens like spinach are excellent sources of fiber, making them incredibly good for the gut.
If you don’t like vegetables and can’t stomach including them in your diet, then you should try and get them into a smoothie or something that you enjoy eating. It’s not quite a good replacement (as your body doesn’t have to break them down and digest them in the same way), but it’s a good way to get them into your diet.
Another part of that 5-a-day is great, which is also a great way to improve gut health. Although most people prefer fruits compared to vegetables, excessive amounts of sugary fruits might not be the best for your diet, although they are still an excellent source of fiber.
One of the best fruits for an improved gut is the banana. This is because bananas are fiber-rich, which (as mentioned before) is an excellent substance for the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
In addition, these are some fruits that are good for gut health:
If you still struggle to eat a good amount of fruit, then you can use the smoothie trick discussed in the vegetable section.
The general rule of thumb is that you can’t go wrong with vegetables and fruits when it comes to your gut.
Fish is another diet essential for people who want a healthy gut. Fish works well because it helps create a robust amount of gut microorganisms via its omega-3 fatty acid content.
Research shows that this fatty acid works wonders in the gut, meaning it’s time to stock up on the fish in your fridge freezer.
Although all types of fish are good, salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines are the preferred fish when it comes to gut health.
Last but not least, is the humble oats. They are highly underrated (and cheap) when it comes to healing the gut, and are a great digestion aid.
Oats contain a special kind of fiber called beta-glucan, which has been proven to increase the good bacteria in the gut.
Hooray for better gut health.
In terms of drinks, you should try to avoid caffeine and fizziness. Instead, go for plain water, coconut milk, and herbal teas. For example, coconut milk is a great choice and a real crowd favorite amongst health-conscious individuals.
Time to heal your gut health
So yes, gut health is incredibly important and there are many things (including exercise and sleep) that can influence a healthy gut. However, good is something that can destroy or build good gut health.
You should try to eat more fiber and foods that contain probiotics, and prebiotics (like the above examples). Without these vital components, you might find it harder to heal your gut and keep it healthy.