We’ve all heard that “you are what you eat,” and eating gut-healthy foods is a crucial part of boosting your immune system. Read on to learn how to improve your gut microbiome and feel amazing.Jump to Recipe
Eating gut-healthy foods is all the rage right now in medicine. What you eat affects your gut bacteria and your immune system. Experts call this microbe-laden environment the gut microbiome, which is a fancy way of saying, the bacteria that live in your digestive tract. What you eat directly affects the good bacteria in your digestion and your overall health.
What Is the Gut Microbiome?
Trillions of microorganisms that live in our digestive tract and directly impact our immune function comprise our gut microbiome. In fact, we can boost the good gut bacteria with gut-healthy foods.
Furthermore, according to research, several diseases are influenced by an imbalanced microbiome where beneficial microbes may be missing because of poor diet or other causes. These illnesses include cancer, autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, and even autism. The good news is, there’s a lot we can do to boost our gut-healing capacity through eating whole foods like kefir and fermented foods that help with digestive health.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Other Signs of Gut Imbalance
An imbalanced gut microbiome can lead to bloating and even mental health issues. You know something is off with your gut bacteria if you are experiencing any skin issues, bowel issues, brain fog, constipation or diarrhea, and unexplainable weight gain. In fact, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that has been linked to an imbalance in good gut bacteria. IBS is a digestive disorder that causes bloating, pain in the belly, and bowel disturbances.
According to researchers at the National Institute of Health, the gut microbes help activate over 30 different hormones in your body. So the gut-brain connection is very real. What you eat can affect your mood and your health.
Good Gut Healthy Foods for Balance
Now that you know what the microbiome is, how do you effectively feed your gut with nourishing foods that will help you live an optimal life? Gut flora starts with whole foods. If you’re eating a lot of processed white flour, switch over to whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa. Over-processed grains like white pasta, white rice, and white bread lack the fiber to feed your gut-friendly bacteria properly.
According to research, fiber is the one element that directly feeds the human microbiome. We can get fiber from various sources such as whole grains, nuts, fruit, and vegetables. The research goes on to show that diversifying your high- fiber sources builds a more hearty microbiome. In other words, being in a food rut won’t help your gut health balance. You want to diversify your fruits and veggies like you diversify a healthy financial portfolio, only this time, it’s with your food.
Health Benefits of Probiotic-Rich Foods
In addition to keeping your diet full of fiber-rich whole foods, focusing on both prebiotic and probiotic enriched foods helps beneficial bacteria flourish inside your digestive tract. Prebiotics act as food for the good bacteria living inside your gut. In comparison, probiotics are live microbes that increase the good bacteria in your microbiome. Both serve complementary functions that boost immunity and gut health.
Prebiotic and Probiotic Sources
Prebiotic foods that feed the good bacteria are onions, garlic, soybeans, chicory root, raw honey, banana, and Jerusalem artichoke. You can create your own prebiotic drink by mixing half a teaspoon of ground flaxseed with half a teaspoon of ground psyllium husk into a 12 oz glass of water. Drink this prebiotic mix every other day before dinner to add soluble fiber to your gut health.
Probiotics can be found in yogurt, kefir, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, and fermented foods. Examples of fermented foods would include kimchi, kombucha, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. Not only does probiotics aid digestion, but it also helps fight off bad bacteria that negatively impact your overall health. Think of prebiotics as feeding the probiotics that help you stay balanced.
Probiotics Promote Health
According to the Cleveland Clinic, good bacteria keeps your immune system working optimally. Probiotics also control inflammation and help with food digestion. Probiotic-rich foods keep bad bacteria from growing too much to the point where it will make you sick. Furthermore, probiotics help the body create vitamins and breakdown and absorb medications, among many other beneficial things.
Bone Broth: One of the Miracle Gut Healthy Foods
Not only do you have to care of the inside of your gut, but there are also things to help heal your intestinal gut lining. One of the easiest ways to help strengthen your gut lining is by sipping homemade bone broth. Bone broth has amino acids, minerals, nutrients, and is gelatin-rich, which helps repair the intestinal lining and reduce inflammation in digestive organs. Think of it as more than just a soup, but as a salve for your insides.
Instant Pot Gut-Healing Bone Broth
- 2 lbs Roasted organic meat bones of choice
- 2 medium carrots chopped
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp Dried Herbs of Choice (Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary) Herb de Provence will work too
- 1 bunch fresh herbs
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 8 cups filtered water Enough to come to the 1-inch below Max Line
- 1 large onion diced into wedges
Instant Pot Gut Healing Bone Broth
- Place electric pressure cooker strainer basket insert into the Instant Pot and place the bones inside.
- Add the vinegar to the bones, along with vegetables, herbs, black pepper, salt, bay leaf, and remaining ingredients.
- Close the lid and set the steam release knob to sealing position. Press “soup” setting and set timer to 240 minutes. Once cooking time is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally.
- Remove strainer basket out of the Instant Pot into a bigger bowl. Use the broth that is strained out and put it back into the Instant Pot with the rest of the clear broth. Toss the contents of the strainer away.
- Enjoy the gut healing broth through the day like a sipping soup and can be used for cooking.
Easy Ways to Add Good Bacteria to Your Meals
Many of the gut healthy foods are already in your diet. For example, opt for plain organic yogurt if you want to boost your gut health. The next time you order sushi, order a cup of miso soup, which has immune fighting probiotics. Or the next time you indulge in a cheese platter, go for the soft cheeses like Gouda, which is a great option. Sourdough bread will go with fermented cheeses wonderfully. Instead of white bread, which is inflammatory for your gut, keep baking the fresh probiotic-rich sourdough bread- and don’t forget to add pickles to your life.
Building up your gut bacteria doesn’t have to be complicated. Just start with your favorite fermented foods, a great bone broth, and even a good quality probiotic supplement if you have the green light from your physician. You can also drink kombucha, a fermented tea full of live bacteria to help your health journey. You will find that having a healthy gut means increasing whole foods that you may already enjoy!