Gut Healing Foods
Important for your digestive health and wellness.
Let’s talk about your gut, and the gut healing foods that may prove beneficial to you.
First of all, what do we mean by “your gut”?
The gut is another name for your gastrointestinal system, also known as the GI tract, and it’s more than just what’s in your belly.
Your digestive system starts at your mouth and includes your esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, gall bladder, colon, and rectum.Yeah, you’re covering a lot of territory here.
Common signs of GI Tract issues include:
- upset stomach, including nausea or vomiting
- acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD
- problems with gas, including belching, bloating or flatulence
- unexpected weight changes (gaining or losing weight for no reason)
- food sensitivities
- bowel problems including IBS, diarrhea, or constipation
- problems with sleeping or constant fatigue
If you are having gut issues, there are some things you can do to help your body repair itself. One of those is eating foods that help promote healing.
So, it is time to hit the grocery store and stock up on the following twelve gut-healing foods.
These meats, fruits, vegetables, and spices all have properties that can help you feel better, heal your gut, and promote overall well-being.
12 Gut Healing Foods to Promote Digestive Health
1. Green Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, spinach, watercress, and kale
There are so many reasons to have vegetables in your diet. For example, there have been countless studies showing that a diet high in fruits and vegetables leads to lower inflammation and better health. Human trials show that a diet high in fruits and vegetables leads to reduced levels of inflammatory markers. (Source)
Why does this matter? Your intestine has a barrier that prevents microorganisms, toxins, and undigested food particles from entering your bloodstream.
But, it also needs to allow nutrients to flow through. This delicate balance is called permeability. Stress, some drugs, infections, and certain foods can weaken the barrier, allowing particles to flow into your body.
When foreign matter enters your body, your immune system is alerted. It sends inflammation-promoting molecules to fight the invader.
This system is normal and usually works well. However, the continuous production of pro-inflammatory molecules can lead to chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can delay healing and, if left unchecked, cause many severe diseases. So we want to decrease inflammation so healing can occur, and the situation doesn’t become worse.
Fortunately, vegetables are high in nutrients that can help your GI Tract. They contain flavonoids, which help to inhibit the early stages of inflammation.
Vegetables also have two other properties that heal your gut – digestive fiber and polyphenols. Your gut microbiome metabolizes polyphenols and uses them for fuel.
Fiber is the primary energy source for colonic fermentation. (Source) In other words, it helps your digestive system function properly.
So, which are the best green vegetables for digestive health? Our top four include Brussels sprouts, spinach, watercress, and kale.
Why? Because these four vegetables also contain inflammation-fighting Omega-3s. You usually think of omega-3s in fatty fish, but these vegetables have them as well.
2. Berries: blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, red raspberries, and strawberries
Like vegetables, fruits contain polyphenols and fiber, both of which are beneficial to your gut.
Berries also contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are what give dark berries their vibrant color. These compounds are metabolized in the intestine and the liver and have an antimicrobial effect. (Source)
Berries also have an antioxidant, anti-neurodegenerative, and, most importantly, to healing your gut, anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have even looked at berry extracts from blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, red raspberries, and strawberries for their ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. (Source) That is a lot of great nutrition in such a tiny fruit.
Other than berries, another fruit you will want to add to your diet is pineapple. Fresh pineapple.
Pineapple contains bromelain. Bromelain has long been part of traditional medicine in the warm climates where it grows and, like berries and vegetables, has significant anti-inflammatory effects. (Source)
And not only are these tropical fruits delicious, but they also are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while supplying a generous amount of antioxidants.
Pineapple also contains malic acid. Malic acid boosts immunity and helps maintain oral health.
These additional benefits, plus the hefty dose of Vitamin C you get from pineapple, enables you to help your digestive system heal.
Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory that is used in cooking and has a long history in ancient traditional medicine. In Indonesia, red ginger is used for relieving the symptoms of arthritis, a disease caused by inflammation of the joints. (Source) (Source)
Here is another excellent reason to love ginger. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger is an antioxidant.
It helps to slow or stop the creation of free-radicals. (Source) Plus if you have an upset stomach, ginger is known as a home remedy to reduce nausea.
Like ginger, garlic has been used as a spice and medicine for centuries. Garlic has antibiotic, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. (Source)
Since inflammation is frequently spurred by bacteria and fungi in the body, these properties are very valuable. Not only that, but garlic reduces the densities of triglycerides and cholesterol in your blood. (Source)
Garlic also has antioxidative properties and has been studied for its antitumor properties. (Source)
Garlic is easy to grow in most climates and is fun to have in a home garden.
6. Nuts: Walnuts
People who eat nuts have lower inflammatory markers. Nuts contain polyphenols, polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, and tocopherols, which help prevent inflammation. (Source)
Some studies even show that people who eat nuts 1-4 times per week have a lower risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. (Both conditions are linked with inflammation.) (Source)
Of the many types of nuts, we recommend walnuts. Walnuts also contain Omega 3s, which are anti-inflammatory. Besides, walnuts have the highest amount of protective antioxidants. (Source)
And although nuts are a calorie-dense food, they are being studied for helping to reduce blood lipid levels. 21 g of walnuts a day was shown to reduce bad cholesterol levels in subjects. (Source)
So, walnuts can help heal your digestive tract and lower cholesterol levels.
7. Teas: Green Tea
Teas possess flavonoids called catechins. Catechins are a significant component of green tea and are anti-inflammatory.
The other anti-inflammatory compound in tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been found to suppress the molecules that signal inflammation to begin and inflammation-related enzymes. (Source)
Tea is also an antioxidant, reduces vascular tension, and protects your endothelial cells, which are part of your heart and blood vessels. (Source)
Mild green teas can aid in digestion, which is also essential as you heal your GI tract. Green tea does contain caffeine. Part of healing your gut is reducing stress and getting plenty of sleep, so make sure not to drink tea too close to bedtime.
8. Fatty, Wild Caught Fish: Salmon
Fatty, wild-caught fish are all high in Omega 3. Omega 3 impacts inflammation in several ways.
One unique way is that they decrease the activity of your cells that move inflammation around your body. (Source)
Studies also show that eating salmon helps people suffering from ulcerative colitis. (Source)
Colitis is an inflammation of the colon and very painful. Eating salmon reduced their inflammatory markers.
Though several fish have these properties, including herring and mackerel, animal studies show that salmon may be the best choice for managing your weight. (Source)
Since extra weight can also lead to inflammation, that makes salmon a great choice. Plus, salmon is high in all of the B Vitamins. B vitamins are great for your brain and nervous system. They also help you digest and metabolize food.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermenting apples, and it is very easy to make yourself.
It is microbial and an antioxidant. But apple cider vinegar has another significant effect. It delays the stomach from emptying and lowers blood glucose. (Source)
Also, fruit vinegar like apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help reduce weight gain. In animal studies, consumption of fruit vinegar significantly reduced inflammatory biomarkers. (Source)
Some people drink apple cider vinegar daily, but it also makes an excellent digestive health salad dressing when combined with walnut oil and fresh ginger.
10. Fermented Vegetables: sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh and miso
A leaky gut allows food antigens, toxins, and microbes like lipopolysaccharide endotoxin (LPS) to enter the bloodstream from the intestine.
These toxins, like LPS, can elevate inflammation. Fermented foods are a natural way to improve your gut biome and strengthen and protect your intestinal barrier. (Source)
Fermented foods also help lower inflammatory cytokine production, prevent stress-induced changes to your microbiome, and come with a lot of nutrition, like Omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Because dairy can sometimes cause food sensitivities, we recommend fermented vegetables over fermented dairies, like kefir and yogurt. However, those are good options as well, if your body can tolerate them.
Here’s one more reason to love fermented foods – they have anti-obesity effects as well. Saurkraut is another fun fermented food that can you can make at home.
Peppermint oil comes from the peppermint plant. You might be most familiar with it as a flavoring for gum and toothpaste.
However, it has long been used as a home remedy for nausea, indigestion, and headaches. Since the 1970s, it has been studied in clinical trials to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome and help with the pain from indigestion. (Source)
Peppermint has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and inhibits the growth of cytokines IL-6 and MCP-1. (Source)
Researchers have studied peppermint oil for its anti-cancer effects. Though more research needs to be done, initial studies show that it significantly affected human lung carcinoma, leukemia cells, and gastric cancer. (Source)
Peppermint oil can be taken on its own, or added to tea.
Interestingly, coconut oil can help both acute and chronic inflammation. Coconuts also contain cytokinins, which have anti-aging and anti-cancer effects which makes it helpful for healing your digestive system. (Source)
Coconuts are also high in manganese. Manganese is necessary for your antioxidant system and helps you regulate your blood sugar. (Source)
Importantly, it also activates the enzymes that assist in your metabolism. It enables you to digest proteins and use vitamins C and E and is a cofactor in your immune response.
These twelve gut healing foods not only help you heal your GI tract, but have many nutritional benefits. Add these powerhouses to your diet to help improve your digestive system and for overall good health. You will get essential vitamins and minerals through these twelve foods, plus natural inflammation-fighting compounds that will help ease digestive issues.
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