Sunday, June 3, 2018

How to eat for a healthy gut

Who knew that there are bacteria that are good for us.  It’s true, there are some bacteria that actually improve your health.   What foods provide healthy bacteria?  Some people know that yogurt has healthy bacteria.  But did you know you also have to “feed” the healthy bacteria?  What can you do to add some healthy bacteria to your day for a healthier gut? And not just your digestive system benefits.  Research is now showing that probiotics may help our health in many ways including:  “immunity, weight, heart health, and even memory”.  But skip the supplements and get your probiotics and prebiotics from real food. 

What are the “good” bacteria for a healthy digestive system?
You may have heard of “probiotics”.  According to WebMD, probiotics are “live bacteria and yeast that are good for your health, especially your digestive system”.   Probiotics are the good bacteria that promote a healthy gut.  But you not only need to eat foods that provide probiotics, your diet also needs food that feed the healthy bacteria.  These types of foods are called prebiotics.  

What foods provide probiotics? 

  • Yogurt – look at the label for “live cultures” to be sure you are getting the healthy, live bacteria.  Usually you will find, lactobacillus, a common probiotic in yogurt.   Surprising, lactobacillus helps digest the lactose in yogurt.  So many people who are lactose intolerant, can enjoy some yogurt.
Yogurt with fruit
  • Kombuchas – these are fermented beverages with probiotics.  My daughter has gotten into these drinks and tries to drink a Kombucha drink every day.
Kombucha- Gingerade
  • Olives – get the cured Greek olives and you will get some probiotics, not to mention the healthy oil in olives
  • Apple Cider vinegar – use to make salad dressings
  • Dairy products – besides yogurt, buttermilk,, and soft cheeses provide probiotics

What foods have prebiotics?  So healthy bacteria need to eat.  What do you feed them?  Fiber.  We can’t digest fiber but the good bacteria thrive on fiber. By “feeding” your healthy bacteria fiber, you promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut and promote the growth of healthy bacteria.   If you don’t feed the healthy bacteria, then they can naturally decrease in number.  Thus, “prebiotics are types of dietary fiber that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut”.

  • Vegetables – some vegetables contain prebiotics.  These include:  leeks, garlic and onions.  Add some of these to a salad with the apple cider vinegar and you will get the benefit of probiotics and prebiotics.   Other vegetables to choose are asparagus, Jicama, legumes. 
  • Grains – whole grains like oats, whole wheat, barley and rye provide fiber and thus prebiotics.  Enjoy some oatmeal, Cheerios, whole grain English muffins to add some prebiotics to your day.
  • Fruit – blueberries are not only filled with heart-healthy antioxidants, they also promote the health of your good gut bacteria.  Add some blueberries to your favorite yogurt and you once again will be getting probiotics and prebiotics.  Bananas are another good choice for prebiotics.  Apples provide pectin which has “prebiotic effects”.  The pectin in apples not only promotes growth of the healthy gut bacteria but also lowers the number of harmful bacteria in your gut.
  • Cocoa chocolate – a favorite of so many people.  “Cocoa is a tasty prebiotic food.  It contains flavanols that increase healthy gut bacteria, lower cholesterol and improve heart health.” 
  • Flaxseeds – many people sprinkle flaxseeds on their cereal or add flaxseed powder to their morning smoothie.  Or you may see “flaxseed” as an ingredient in a healthy whole grain bread.  It is the fiber in flaxseed that helps feed your good gut bacteria. 

If you would like to know more about probiotics and prebiotics, then read this helpful article, Probiotics 101.

Add some probiotics and prebiotics to your life this week.  Have some yogurt and blueberries at lunch.  Put banana slices on your morning oatmeal or Cheerios.  Make some salad dressing with apple cider vinegar.  So many easy ways to promote a healthy gut.

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