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20 Best Foods to Improve Your Gut Health

sarahs-indian-kimchi-recipe

Sarah’s Indian Kimchi recipe here.
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A few months ago I had a big Saturday night out on the town. No, I didn’t go to any fancy wine bars. No, I didn’t check out the latest hot restaurant.

I went to see a scientist speak.

What can I say. As a girl with two science degrees (food science and wine science), there’s no escaping my inner nerd.

The ‘scientist’ in question was Dr Michael Mosley, one of my favourite authors and documentary makers. He spoke about his latest book ‘The Clever Guts Diet – How to revolutionize your body from the inside out.’

I was in heaven!

20 Best Foods to Improve Your Gut Health

GENERAL GUT-HEALTH FOODS

1. Fruit & Vegetables
Bring on the fiber! More on this below.

2. Olive oil
Olive oil is wonderful for reducing inflammation everywhere including the gut. Plus including more fat from oil means you’re less likely to reach for processed sugar and carbs.

3. Oily fish
Great for your gut for the same reason anti-inflammatory reason as olive oil.

4. Cocoa
The best news is that chocolate is good for you! The flavanoids and polyphenols (types of antioxidants) found in cocoa powder and dark chocolate are loved by your gut bacteria too. Win win!

5. Red Wine
Of course too much alcohol will quickly decimate your gut microflora. But 1-2 glasses of red wine can actually be helpful.

6. Spices
Turmeric is the best because not only is it an anti-inflammatory, it can also protect the wall of the intestine by inhibiting the growth of disease-causing bacteria. Ginger is another anti-inflammatory.

FIBER-RICH FOODS – INULIN
Inulin is a special type of fiber that our gut bacteria thrive on.

7. Onions, leeks & garlic
Some of the best sources of inulin. Now you know why so many recipes begin with ‘soften an onion’.

8. Witlof or endive
Great for adding inulin to your salads

9. Dandelion Greens
Not something I’ve tried myself but keen to check them out!

10. Jerusalem Artichoke
Have a reputation for causing gas. All that inulin means happy gut bacteria which means you-know-what.

11. Asparagus
One of my favourite veggies! Bring on the Spring.

12. Bananas
Contain moderate amounts of inulin and resistant starch (see below). I avoid them because they’re not Low Carb.

FIBER-RICH FOODS – RESISTANT STARCH
Resistant Starch is another special type of fiber that looks and tastes like starch (hello pasta!) but isn’t able to be digested like normal starch so it passes to the gut to feed our bacteria.

13. Pasta, Potatoes, Rice
By cooking, cooling and reheated these carbs you can convert some of the regular starch into resistant starch and do your gut bacteria a favour. Good news for the carb lovers among us.

FIBER RICH FOODS – OTHER

14. Barley & Oats
Contain another type of soluble fiber called Beta-glucan which as been linked with lowering LDL cholesterol levels.

15. Linseeds (Flax seeds)
Great source of insoluble fiber called cellulose.

16. Apples
Eating apples produces buutyrate which feeds our gut bacteria. They also provide regular insoluble fiber too.

17. Seaweed
Another great general fiber source.

PROBIOTICS
Probiotics contain actual beneficial microbes (especially) bacteria.

18. Cheese
Not all cheese contains live cultures of bacteria. Some that do include blue cheese, feta, gouda, cottage cheese, mozzarella, camembert and brie.

19. Yoghurt
The most famous probiotic. And really fun and easy to make at home.

19. Fermented Vegetables
My favourite sources of probiotics including sauerkraut, kimchi, other fermented veg. A great alternative if you need to avoid dairy

20. Apple Cider Vinegar
Reduces blood sugar spikes by inhibiting one of the digestive enzymes which breaks down sugars.

Are These Foods Good for Everyone?

Unfortunately no. If you suffer from Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS), many of these foods can actually increase your symptoms. If this is you, I’d recommend checking out the FODMAPS diet developed by Monash University in Australia.

More Food + Gut Health Resources on Stonesoup

Other Gut Health Resources

Did you enjoy this article?

Or are you more interested in simple recipes? I’d love to hear what you’d like more of. Just leave a comment below.

With love,
Jules x

ps. Tired of deciding what to cook?

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Karen 22 November, 2017, 4:06 am

    So timely! I just this morning googled “diet to improve gut flora”. Your list was better than any that came up; many thanks!

    • jules 24 November, 2017, 10:45 am

      Great minds Karen!
      Thanks

  • Jenna 22 November, 2017, 4:30 am

    Great article, Jules. I’m always looking for new ideas, especially for cultured veggies. Got any good recipes with leeks? I’ve got one sitting in my fridge from our produce box. :)

  • Susan 22 November, 2017, 4:48 am

    Very interesting information, nicely and clearly summarized. I love making fermented foods, and have succeeded with one batch of sauerkraut, while ruining 3 batches of fermented carrots. The recipe for Indian kimchee sounds wonderful, even though I’m not fond of the Korean kind.

    • jules 24 November, 2017, 10:43 am

      Great Susan!
      This kimchi is quite different to your usual pungent Korean ones. And I love that you can control how much fermented funky flavours you get when fermenting yourself
      Jx

  • Barbara Murphy 22 November, 2017, 8:02 am

    This is a great list, Jules, and I have a lot of these growing in my garden! We are in the process of changing a few things about the way we eat so we will be following your tips.
    I made sauerkraut last year, managed to eat one jar but the other is languishing in the fridge still. What are ways to make it more edible? I love bitter leafy greens but struggle with sour…

    • jules 24 November, 2017, 10:42 am

      Lucky you with your garden Barbara!

      If you struggle with sour, creamy things tend to balance acitity as do sweet flavours. Sweet kraut might be a bit weird but adding to to something creamy like mashed potato or mashed cauliflower or even a coconut milk creamy based dish can help. And next time you can pop it in the fridge earlier so you don’t have as much acid produced.

      Jx

  • Jill den Hertog 22 November, 2017, 8:38 am

    You could add kefir to that list. Even easier to make than yogurt.
    PS. I do enjoy your comments, ideas and cauliflower pizza.

  • Jill den Hertog 22 November, 2017, 8:41 am

    I should have added that Sandor Katz is THE fermentation guru. Check out his book The Art of Fermentation …and his blogs.

    • jules 24 November, 2017, 10:39 am

      Yes Jill!
      I’ve seen Sandor speak and he is the master ;)

  • Liz 22 November, 2017, 10:49 am

    Thank you so much for lots of interesting information. I like the way you offer substitutes for certain ingredients. This is very helpful for many people who have food sensitivities.

    • jules 24 November, 2017, 10:38 am

      Thanks Liz!
      Glad you find it helpful

  • Andrea 22 November, 2017, 11:45 pm

    I love the info. Would love even more to see followup posts with your simple recipes incorporating these foods. Themed posts!

    • jules 24 November, 2017, 10:36 am

      Thanks for the suggestions Andrea!

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