September 03, 2020 4 min read
If you grew up knowing that all microbes (germs) are bad and should be destroyed, you'll be surprised to find out that there are microbes living in the digestive system, or the gut, which help the body fight other harmful germs. It's a plot twist worthy of Professor Snape. Germs protecting you from other germs. And it doesn't end there. The good germs in your gut play an important role in your overall health. If they're not healthy, you won't be healthy, which means that you have to take care of them. Think of them as guard dogs. They need to be strong so they can guard your body against disease. So you have to feed them. Here are some foods good for gut health that you can eat to keep your gut healthy.
Before we dive into foods to improve gut bacteria, let's get some terms out of the way. Probiotics and prebiotics are words that commonly turn up when talking about gut health. Here's what they mean:
Probiotics- These are live bacteria and yeasts that live naturally in your gut and keep it healthy. Foods, drinks and supplements rich in these healthy germs are known as probiotic foods.
Prebiotics- These are a type of hard-to-digest fibre which feed the friendly gut microbes. Prebiotics also provide protection for probiotics as they pass through the harsh stomach environment to the large intestine, where they live, feed and help in digesting and fermenting food.
For a healthy gut, it is advisable to eat foods rich in both probiotics and prebiotics. Here are some examples:
Yoghurt is basically fermented milk rich in gut-friendly bacteria and yeasts. It's a great and accessible source of probiotics. However, for the best results, use yoghurt that contains little or no sugar, as sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your stomach and could weaken the probiotics.
Also, make sure that the yoghurt brand you buy actually contains live cultures. You can also make your own yoghurt at home.
Whole grains contain lots of fibre and non-digestible carbohydrates like beta-glucans. They survive digestion in the stomach and small intestine and find their way to the large intestine, where beneficial microbes break them down and use them as food.
Their high levels of fibre also protect any probiotic bacteria on its way to the large intestine from the strong digestive juices in the stomach and the small intestine.
Plenty of probiotic supplements like the Organic Muesli Probiotic Lumberjack with Apple Date and Coconut 450g contain whole grains. This supplement contains organic whole grains such as wholegrain oats and cornflakes plus additional ingredients like apples, dates, sunflower seeds and chia seeds.
Is there anything garlic can't do? It has antifungal and antibacterial properties that prevent the growth of harmful fungi and bacteria in the gut. It is also a prebiotic as it feeds the good gut bacteria and helps them perform their functions properly.
Another amazing prebiotic, ginger helps stimulate the production of digestive juices in the stomach, leading to better digestion. It also stimulates the gut to keep food moving, so the probiotic microbes get their food faster.
Ginger is also an antibiotic, preventing the growth and spread of harmful microbes and maintaining a proper microbial balance in the stomach.
Coconut oil is an antimicrobial medium-chain fatty acid with strong antibiotic properties which eliminate unfriendly microbes. It also maintains the acid balance in the stomach.
It is often used as an ingredient in probiotic supplements, such as the Amazonia Raw Pre-probiotic Powder 120g. This is a blend of probiotic strains of bacteria and fermented wholefoods which act as prebiotics. It contains prebiotic ingredients such as coconut oil, cacao powder, cacao nibs, organic peanut butter and organic cashew nuts.
One broth is simply soup or stock prepared by slow-cooking chicken or cow bones for about 24 to 72 hours. This brings out all the important nutrients like minerals and amino acids, making bone broth one of the most nutritious foods known.
These nutrients seal the lining of the small and large intestine, preventing disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and leaky gut which cause symptoms like acidity, constipation and inflammation.
A common food in Japan, Miso is made from fermented soya beans and rice or barley. It is rich in beneficial bacteria and enzymes and can be eaten as a dressing, in soup or used as a marinade for tofu or salmon. It's also a great alternative to dairy.
Kimchi is a popular Korean staple consisting of fermented vegetables. It is fabulously rich in vitamins, fibre and probiotic bacteria.
Sauerkraut is a well-known German dish that consists of finely chopped cabbage which has been fermented. It is rich in vitamins, probiotics and fibre, so it's ideal as a food for gut bacteria.
High fibre foods such as green peas, almonds, raspberries, apples and artichokes help the food move easily along the digestive tract and protect probiotic bacteria from harsh digestive juices. This also prevents digestive disorders like constipation.
Probiotic supplements normally contain a blend of different probiotic microbe strains and prebiotic foods. For example, the Eden Healthfoods Ultimate Pre/Pro Biotic Powder 80g contains 15 different probiotic bacteria strains, which also include soil-based organisms (SBOs).
SBOs are probiotic bacteria that live naturally in the soil. They are more resistant than the regular probiotics, hence have higher chances of getting to their destination in the large intestine. The powder also contains 5 different types of fibres which improve the digestive process and ensure that the probiotics make it to the large intestine in one piece.
Taking care of your gut health is a great way of preventing disease. With more research on probiotics, it is becoming clear that the destruction of the delicate balance between beneficial and harmful microbes in the gut is a major factor in a lot of disorders of the body. Don't wait for that to happen. Eat lots of probiotic and prebiotic foods, and give your body the boost it needs with our range of premium organic gut health supplements.