Whenever we decide to get out of a rut or make new resolutions for ourselves, one of the very top priorities we have on our minds is taking care of our health. We make a mental (or actual) checklist of taking care of our body as well as mind. We resolve to work out every morning, drink more water, journal, and what not! However, one thing that we are rarely mindful of is remembering to take care of our gut health, which essentially means consuming a group of foods that help in balancing the gut microbiota. The biome in our gut helps us to absorb and break down nutrients better, improve metabolism, and immunity. This means that whatever we eat gets a better opportunity to reach the bloodstream and healthily serve us. The words and ‘probiotic’ are thrown into the air without us heeding any attention to what these terms mean and why such groups of food are important!
Here are five types of foods that will Kickstart and maintain your gut health at its most optimum level-
- Prebiotics are food substances that induce the synthesis of gut bacteria like Lactobacilli in your gut. Such foods are first degraded by the gut microbiome, thus essentially feeding them, and the degradation products (particularly fructo-oligosaccharides or trans-galacto-oligosaccharides) are then released into your bloodstream. As microbes consume these prebiotics as “food”, they gain their energy to survive and multiply. Examples of foods with prebiotics include asparagus, artichokes, banana, and garlic.
- Probiotics are basically healthy microorganisms (commonly live bacteria and yeast) that are intended to improve your gut health. The most common (and important) groups of bacteria that are included in probiotics are Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. These bacteria have a plethora of actions ranging from improving your immunity to improving digestion. The main types of probiotic foods include fermented foods, constituting yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, and miso.
- Synbiotic foods are food groups that combine prebiotic and probiotic food groups. Along with fuelling the existing microbes in the gut, synbiotics also provide you with an abundant supply of healthy microbes to keep your microbiota balanced, inhibit pathogen growth, and boost immunity. Combinations of yoghurt and honey, asparagus and pickles, and yoghurt with oats have proven to be good synbiotic foods.
- Foods with a higher fibre content– fibre is a form of non-digestible carbohydrate that has the potential to modify the composition and functioning of the microbes in your gut. Additionally, as fibres are not digestible, they tend to keep you fuller for a longer time and increase the bulk of stools. Raspberries, banana, barley, pear, and quinoa are foods rich in fibre.
- Anti-inflammatory foods– chronic inflammatory conditions like IBD cause your gut to flare up in an attempt to fight an unknown (sometimes virtual) invader. Foods or beverages that attempt to alleviate chronic inflammation are known as Anti-inflammatory foods, and these include tomatoes, olive oil, green vegetables, and nuts. Additionally, these foods prove to be a rich source of antioxidants like lycopene and polyphenol and certain other substances that reduce the risk of heart diseases.