The good bacteria in your gut practically eat whatever is left in your stomach after the digestion process. Keep them healthy by consuming foods that are high in prebiotics, fibre and nutrients, and low in sugar and unhealthy fats, just like these 10 foods.
A great addition to your dietary plan, yoghurts contain disease-fighting bacteria Bifidobacterium and Acidophilus that are known to provide gut health benefits. These live microorganisms combined with other vitamins and nutrients found in yoghurt may help reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol levels, diarrhoea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and ulcers. People with lactose intolerance will also benefit from eating yoghurt regularly as it is easier to digest than milk.
When buying yoghurts, choose those that are high in calcium, low in fat and have no added sugars to maximise its benefits to your gut health.
If you want to try something new and healthy, kefir would be an excellent choice. A fermented beverage made up of diverse probiotics and grains, kefir offers more health benefits than yoghurt and is rich in protein, calcium, Vitamins B2 and B12, phosphorus and magnesium.
What makes kefir extremely beneficial to your gut is the presence of Lactobacillus kefiri. This type of bacteria can prevent the growth of Salmonella, E. coli and Helicobacter pylori, and thus help with common gut problems like IBS, diarrhoea and bacterial infections.
Kefir’s highly diverse microorganisms may also help reduce flatulence and boost your bowel function. If you are training your bowel to empty itself every day at specific times, adding kefir to your diet might help you stay consistent.
Korea’s staple side dish, kimchi is a probiotic food created mainly with cabbage, radish, cucumber, scallion, and red chilli paste. On their own, these nutritious vegetables are rich in antioxidants that help slow down ageing and fight cancer. And when mixed altogether, these vegetables make kimchi one of the most potent disease-fighting foods out there.
Kimchi contains probiotic Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB), known for its ability to improve your gut health and provide protection against toxic microorganisms. Eating kimchi regularly will not only increase the friendly bacteria living in your colon, but also help improve your gastrointestinal health over time and keep your immune system strong.
Yet another nutritious fermented dish, sauerkraut has the same probiotics that are also found in kefir and yoghurt. These probiotics promote better absorption of vitamins and minerals in your gut that your body can then use for energy and immunity against diseases.
Fibre and probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut may also help you lose weight. Foods high in fibre keep you full for extended hours so you won’t feel the need to eat often, or as much. If you are trying to keep weight gain at bay, the rich probiotic content in sauerkrauts may help.
A natural probiotic, mangoes offer a lot of gut health benefits without the pungent smell and tangy taste that many fermented foods have. It is also loaded with Vitamin C and polyphenols that may help reduce high methane levels which can be a sign of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.
A recent study showed reduced methane levels in half of the participants who tested positive for methane at baseline after consuming 330 grams of mango for 14 days.
Mangoes appear to play an important role in keeping your gut balanced and healthy but watch for their high sugar content as well. If you are overweight, avoid mango products with added sugars.
This tropical fruit is a great source of prebiotics that can help your gut-friendly bacteria grow in strength and numbers against pathogens. You can pair them up with your probiotic foods like yoghurt to boost their effectiveness in keeping your gut healthy.
A study showed that bananas can reduce bloating, which means it can provide relief from abdominal pain, too. This fruit is also low in calories, only about 105 each, so it is safe to eat multiple times a day as a snack or as added flavouring to your cereal or smoothie.
Many studies have shown that walnuts, or any other diet high in nuts, play a significant role in minimising your risk for inflammatory diseases. It contains fibre and healthy fats that serve as a food source for good bacteria in your stomach, which help break down starchy foods, absorb vitamins and minerals, and even help you feel full.
Another ideal food source for your probiotics, chickpeas contain high amounts of fibre that can support bowel function. These legumes may help control the symptoms of IBS like constipation. Chickpeas can also keep your body’s acidity level balanced so you can absorb more nutrients from your food.
Seaweed is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and fibre that your gut-friendly bacteria in the large intestine thrive on. It also contains porphyrin, a chemical compound that certain good bacteria eat, so they are able to live longer in your gut, providing you with a much stronger defence against any harmful bacteria that can attack your intestinal walls.
Broccoli is rich in fibre and chemical compounds that can strengthen your colon’s barriers against contaminants that may cause a leaky gut. It’s recommended eating up to 3.5 cups of broccoli per day to generate this positive effect on your gut flora and immune system. Alternatively, Brussels sprouts have thrice as much of these nutrients, so you’ll only be needing one cup of Brussels sprouts to meet the recommended daily intake.
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- Probiotic supplementation attenuates increases in body mass and fat mass during high-fat diet in healthy young adults – NCBI
- Mangoes helped improve cardiovascular and gut health in women – EurekAlert!
- Effect of banana consumption on faecal microbiota: a randomised, controlled trial – NCBI
- How broccoli protects your gut – Medical News Today
- Kefir – All about the health benefits, plus a recipe! – New Life Nutrition
- Health benefits of kimchi as a probiotic food – NCBI
- Yogurt and gut function – Oxford Academic