Gut bacteria is at the forefront of many important conversations about health, as more and more research is finding gut bacteria so crucial to so many key aspects of overall health- like digestion (which you may already know), brain health, mood (a BIG one), acne and skin health, weight management and so much more.
When we think about gut bacteria we often think that it’s just about the bacteria that’s literally in our gut, however the bacteria encompassed in our microbiome (the term that includes all of the bacteria we have) includes bacteria both inside our bodies and on the surface too. In numbers, the bacteria we have in/on us actually outnumbers the amount of cells our bodies are made up of (actually at about a 10:1 ratio- the 10 being the bacteria). In short, it’s super important!
A lot of how we keep the bacteria living healthfully inside/on top of our bodies has to do with lifestyle choices, including stress management, environment we exist in, and food we eat (to name a few). In particular, the food we eat can both positively and negatively influence how the bacteria in our bodies are able to live (or not able to live healthfully there). Certain foods contain probiotics (the actual bacteria itself- like yogurt and other fermented foods), and certain other foods contain prebiotics- which are actually the food for the bacteria- which they live off of to help keep them healthy and living. Prebiotic foods are ones we need to eat more of, every single day.
Prebiotic foods help to nourish and provide food for the bacteria to live healthfully inside our bodies, and without properly providing food for survival, the bacteria cannot flourish and help us to be our healthiest selves. Some of the foods on the list below get a bad wrap (ahem, bananas) for being too sugary or not good for you- but in most cases it’s all about portion control; however, these foods all contain healthful components that can help the bacteria in your gut to be healthy and flourish and therefore should be included!
9 Gut healthy foods you should eat today:
#1) Bananas: Bananas are top of my list, because they get a bad wrap for being high in sugar, but they’re actually a source of gut healthy prebiotics. Try adding 1/2 banana some days or most days.
#2) Onions: Onions can also be tough on digestion for some, but a source of gut healthy prebiotics and contains a component called FOS that helps to strengthen gut flora. Onions are also anti-cancer too.
#3) Garlic: Another pre-biotic rich food, though tough for some of us to tolerate. Try to incorporate it when you can, it has so many other anti-cancer and overall healthy properties! Specifically garlic helps to promote the growth of bifidobacterium- a type of key healthy gut bacteria.
#4) Asparagus: A natural diuretic (clients love that!) in addition to a source of prebiotic fiber. Raw always contains more prebiotics, but cooked are still great for you.
#5) Greens: Greens, in particular dandelion greens contain pre-biotic healthy fibers. Load up on greens whenever you can.
#6) Oats: A personal favorite! Oats (due to a component called beta glucan) are a source of prebiotic fiber, and though better to consume them uncooked for the fiber, there’s still some benefit raw or cooked.
#7) Mushrooms: Love me some mushrooms! They’re so great for so many things including for nourishing the gut bacteria. Include them raw or cooked as a part of a meal or a snack!
#8) Apple cider vinegar: ACV is so popular for so many reasons and I personally love it in salad dressings! ACV may help with digestion and nourishing gut bacteria since it’s a fermented food.
#9) Chicory root: Perhaps my least favorite on the list, yet still a key one, chicory root is great for helping to promote digestion and nourishing the gut bacteria. It also has a coffee flavor and can be a coffee replacement too.