6 foods to support gut health
Find out how you can improve your gut health by eating these 6 foods
Talk of gut health is everywhere – and for very good reason. The health of our gut is paramount to our overall state of being, affecting everything from digestion and inflammation, to hormone and blood sugar balance. Hippocrates himself stated that “all disease begins in the gut”, and as most of our immune system is located here, it’s hardly surprising that it has such a huge impact on our wellbeing. To keep the gut in top condition, it’s vital to nourish it with the right foods. Here are my top 6 foods to support gut health:
1. Organic meat
Why? Organic meat is a great source of L-glutamine. L-glutamine is a powerful amino acid which supports the integrity of the gut. It has been shown to regulate the tight junctions between the cells of the gut lining, reducing ‘leaky’ gut, and acts as an anti-inflammatory by dampening down pro-inflammatory activity, promoting overall healthy functioning of the gut.
How? Include high-quality meat such as organic beef, chicken or turkey into your meals at least a few times a week – organ meats count too and are incredibly rich in essential minerals. For a veggie alternative, try organic tofu and eggs, or supplement with L-glutamine.
2. Beans and pulses
Why? Beans and pulses, such as lentils, black beans, kidney beans, black eyed peas and chickpeas, are superfoods in their own right, thanks to their high fibre content. Fibre is vital for reducing systemic inflammation through a number of mechanisms; it feeds the beneficial bacteria living in our guts, is a crucial component for stool formation and elimination, and helps to keep the walls of our gut healthy.
How? Add beans and pulses into soups, stews and curries, blend them to create delicious summer dips or toss with a zingy dressing and throw them into salads.
3. Bone broth
Why? One of the most nutrient-dense foods going, bone broth is rich in l-glutamine, minerals, collagen, glycine, proline...the list goes on! Collagen is a major component of the protein in our bodies, especially in connective tissues, so it’s essential for keeping the gut lining in-tact. In addition, gelatin is associated with improvements in gut health, by enhancing gastric acid secretion, and helps to ensure a healthy mucosal lining in the stomach. You can buy organic bone broth in most health food stores, but you can easily make your own at home too LINK TO BONE BROTH RECIPE.
How? Replace stock for bone broth in recipes, use it as a base for a silky homemade soup or simply enjoy it warm from your favourite mug.
Why? Eggs are another fantastic protein source, so provide the body with the amino acids glycine, l-glutamine and proline; as well as the benefits mentioned above, they also help the body to produce its own collagen, supporting the health of the gut lining. Eggs also contain choline, a nutrient which supports muscle function (your gut is a muscle!) and are an essential component of cell membranes, including those that form your gut.
How? Eggs are one of the most versatile foods in the world! Eat scrambled, fried or boiled, create omelettes, frittatas and tarts or use as a binder in a sweet bake – like my Apple and Olive Oil Almond Cake LINK TO RECIPE.
Why? Kefir is just one of the many fermented foods available - yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and kombucha are also great choices to support gut health – but why? Fermented foods are teaming with beneficial bacteria called probiotics, which promote the population of healthy microbes, while inhibiting the growth of harmful pathogens, helping to create a healthy microbiome in the gut.
How? Include fermented foods into your diet whenever and wherever you can! Kefir can be used in place of your regular milk in smoothies, desserts or on cereal, while kimchi and sauekraut make a delicious tangy addition to savoury dishes. Just be sure not to expose fermented foods to a lot of heat, as this will kill off the beneficial bacteria.
6. Olive oil
Why? Cold-pressed olive oil is as nutrient-rich as it is delicious! It promotes the production of short-chain fatty acids, which act as the main ‘food’ source for gut cells, supporting their growth and repair. Olive oil is also rich in polyphenols, a branch of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals which help to soothe the gut lining and in turn, calm the immune system and reduce systemic inflammation.
How? Olive oil makes a great all-round cooking oil, thanks to its medium-high smoke point – use daily for frying, baking or sauteing; extra virgin olive oil makes the perfect base for a variety of salad dressings, pestos and marinades.