News flash...your gut does SO much more than digest food. Think of your gut as the command center of your entire body. It affects everything from how you feel to how you think! In fact, the relationship between your gut and brain health is so closely related, it’s even been described as a “second brain.”
It’s no wonder why there’s so much emphasis on gut health since your overall well being essentially stems from there. The health of your gut is determined by the trillions (yestrillions) of bacteria that reside in your digestive tract- also known as your gut microbiome. The microbes found in your gut help to break down food (especially fiber), control your immune system by interacting with other immune cells in your body, and contribute to overall brain health. In fact research has closely linked an unhealthy gut to anxiety, depression, and dementia.
Gut health and food
Since everything we eat passes through our gut, the relationship between food and gut health is very closely related. Certain foods can promote the growth of good bacteria (which is what we want!) and others can destroy or completely wipe out the beneficial bacteria we need to stay healthy. Processed foods, refined sugars, and artificial sweeteners can wreak havoc on our microbiome. Eating too much of these foods starves the good bacteria in your gut because it doesn’t provide the right nutrients it needs to thrive.
The best foods for your gut:
Fruits and veggies! They are packed with fiber that is easily digested by the bacteria in your gut and stimulate their growth. These are your prebiotic foods aka nondigestible foods that are fermented by your gut and promote the growth of good bacteria in your intestines. Some common foods that are rich in prebiotics include:
- Dried mango
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Fermented foods- think kimchi, pickles, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha! These foods are rich in beneficial probiotics (meaning live bacteria) that help improve gut health and replenish the good bacteria. Try to incorporate at least one serving of fermented foods per day!
Remember what you AVOID eating is just as important!! Foods that you should avoid/ limit if your trying to maintain a healthy gut include:
- Processed foods
- Refined sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
- Red meat