Keeping your gut healthy and happy can go a long way to keeping the rest of your body in good health – many diseases and problems can stem from an imbalanced gut, so it pays to keep things running smoothly in your stomach.
One way to do this is by eating foods that help to repair and strengthen the gut lining, and also by eating prebiotic and probiotic foods to increase the number of good bacteria in your digestive system.
Probiotics are the bacteria that keep our gut healthy, and prebiotics (indigestible fiber) acts as food for the probiotics.
Here are 10 foods to aid digestion, heal our gut and keep our digestive system working properly.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, and is a favourite dish in Germany. It provides the body with a lot of good bacteria, and because cabbage is high in fiber, it helps to fight indigestion and bloating by keeping your gut happy.
Try to buy (or make) fresh sauerkraut, instead of buying canned.
Asparagus is a prebiotic, as it contains lots of indigestible fiber called inulin. It feeds the healthy bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli that live in our gut.
Asparagus also contains high levels of B vitamins and antioxidants. Eat asparagus raw with other crudités and dips for the most powerful effect.
Pineapple is rich in an enzyme called bromelain, which helps to break down protein from larger food molecules into smaller peptides.
It has been suggested in studies that bromelain helps to counter pain and reduce inflammation in the body (particularly in the sinuses), and it reduces the production of cytokines that can damage the gut lining and cause inflammation.
Eat pineapple whole or add it to smoothies and juices.
Raw onions are rich in prebiotics and also contain the antioxidant quercetin, which helps to fight damaging free radicals in the body. Onions can also boost insulin production because of the chromium they contain, and vitamin C supports a strong immune system.
Dice onions and add them to salads, dressings and sauces, and slice to top burgers.
Raw garlic is a prebiotic, and contains high levels of inulin as well as nutrients such as manganese, vitamin B-6, vitamin C, selenium and allicin.
Allicin is created after garlic is crushed or chopped, and research is showing that it may be a powerful disease-fighting substance.
Add garlic raw to guacamole, hummus, dressings, and sauces.
6. Bone Broth
Bone broth supports the immune system and aids a healthy inflammatory response. It contains minerals and healthy compounds such as gelatin, collagen and amino acids like proline, glutamine, and arginine. These substances help to seal the gut lining, fight inflammation, and boost the immune system.
Try this recipe for bone broth soup to make a big batch:
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-inch ginger root, peeled and minced
1/2-inch turmeric root, peeled and minced
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups chopped broccoli, including stems
one 32-oz. container of organic chicken bone broth (or vegetable broth, if preferred)
1 cup of filtered water
2 Japanese yams, peeled and cubed
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. paprika
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste
fresh curly kale, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
fresh parsley, chopped
In a large stockpot, sauté onion in olive oil for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and turmeric. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add celery, carrots, and broccoli and sauté for 5 minutes, then add bone broth and 1 cup of filtered water to the pot.
Bring to a boil, add yams and the rest of the seasonings.
Lower heat to a low temperature and simmer for 40 minutes with the lid on.
Turn off the heat and add chopped kale, then cover for a few minutes to allow the kale to wilt.
Squeeze lemon juice into the soup and season with additional salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Ladle into a bowl and serve with chopped fresh parsley.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar stimulates the digestive juices and increases stomach acid production, which helps us break down and digest our food better.
It is also an antiviral and antimicrobial agent, and it reduces the amount of harmful bacteria living in the gastrointestinal tract. It also helps to get rid of excess yeast in the body.
Add apple cider vinegar to salad dressings or vegetables before roasting them.
As with sauerkraut, it’s the fermentation process of the vegetables used to make kimchi that produces the active probiotic cultures that promote gut health.
This Korean favorite side dish contains large amounts of fiber as well as powerful antioxidants. Try a dinner of rice with veggies and a helping of kimchi.
Ginger has long been known to relive nausea, calm the stomach and help alleviate gut issues. It contains vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese for an extra health boost.
Add peeled ginger to smoothies and teas to give them a warming kick.
10. Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens are full of nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and prebiotics that help keep the gut healthy.
They also contain vitamins A and K, as well as calcium and iron, and make a great addition to an inflammation-fighting green juice.