Hey Angels and Alphas,
One of the best, most productive things you can do for your nutrition and overall health is to give yourself a gut health check. With approximately 70 percent of your immune system located in the gut, it’s safe to say that if you have a healthy gut, you’ll likely be healthy too.
Your gut microbiome is home to trillions upon trillions of bacteria that thrive off the foods you eat. They play a role not only in your digestive health, but in your mental health, too!
There’s emerging evidence that there’s a connection between the gut and the brain which is basically a whole set of neurotransmitters that reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
But what does this all mean for you?
Healthy food stimulates healthy bacteria in the gut. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest it can alter and modify this “second genome” which has been directly linked to the foods we eat.
A study led by Harvard University discovered that your diet can alter a big part of the population of human gut bacteria in just as little as a day.
As with anything, the reverse is also true. Diets that are low in fiber, high in processed foods, and refined sugars have been linked to lower bacterial diversity and conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
But a diet that’s rich in fruits and veggies helps heal your gut lining and prevent bad bacteria from entering your bloodstream.
So how do we go about getting more of these healthy bacteria in our diet? Here are 5 foods that have been labeled superfoods when it comes to gut health.
Kefir is similar to liquid yogurt that’s naturally effervescent. It’s cultured up to 8 times longer than yogurt, giving all its healthy bacteria plenty of time to multiply. It contains more than 12 strains of healthy bacteria as opposed to the 2 strains found in regular yogurt. Not only that, but it has up to 11 grams of protein per cup!
Kimchi is a spicy Korean side dish that’s created by mixing cabbage and other veggies and herbs such as chili peppers, ginger, garlic, and even fish sauce – all of which has been set aside to ferment for a certain period. Fermentation is a natural process that breaks down natural sugars to form lactic acid. Lactic acid is a preservative that prevents bad bacteria from growing and even bumps up the contents of good-for-you vitamins in foods.
Fermentation is similar to a form of pre-digestion which makes nutrients that are typically hard to digest more bioavailable. It also adds pungent and sour flavors to foods.
Yogurt is full of active cultures that help with digestion, but it also helps us absorb nutrients from the foods we eat. The FDA requires that there must be at least two strains of bacteria in all yogurt, although manufacturers can freely add more. Yogurt is also packed with protein and one cup delivers up to 30 percent of your daily calcium needs which is even more readily absorbed due to the probiotics.
This nutty, savory paste is made of fermented soybeans. It’s loaded with the umami flavor and it’s very rich in probiotics. Its concentrated salt content (which is about 500mg per tablespoon) will help protect your healthy bacteria from contamination. And there’s even a balanced sweetness that makes the flavor much milder than that of other fermented foods. Miso is also super versatile – it’s a great addition to soups, dressings, and glazes for roasted veggies.
In its most basic form, sauerkraut is essentially just cabbage and salt. But as a bonus, you get millions of good-for-you bacteria similar to the ones found in yogurt.
When they are sealed airtight, they convert their natural plant sugars into lactic acid which aids digestion, increases the bioavailability of vitamins, and gives sauerkraut a pleasantly sour taste. Radishes and cucumbers are often mixed with it. Choose refrigerated varieties instead of typical canned varieties because the process of pasteurization essentially kills probiotics.
A word about prebiotic-rich foods.
Prebiotics work as “food” for all those healthy bacteria we want to flourish inside our gut. We use prebiotics to stimulate our probiotics. Prebiotics are very high in an indigestible fiber also known as inulin. It further enhances the gut’s production of friendly bacteria. Food sources include whole wheat, cabbage, leeks, artichokes, flaxseed, seaweed, and more.