Sarah’s Indian Kimchi recipe here.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] A[/dropcap] 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.
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.
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.
One of my favourite veggies! Bring on the Spring.
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.
Eating apples produces buutyrate which feeds our gut bacteria. They also provide regular insoluble fiber too.
Another great general fiber source.
Probiotics contain actual beneficial microbes (especially) bacteria.
Not all cheese contains live cultures of bacteria. Some that do include blue cheese, feta, gouda, cottage cheese, mozzarella, camembert and brie.
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
- The Number 1. Way to Improve Your Gut Health
- 4 Reasons I LOVE fermented foods
- How to Make Yoghurt
- An Easy Way to Make Kimchi
- Simple Sauerkraut Recipe
- Fermented Chilli Hot Sauce
- Fermented Vegetables Recipe
Other Gut Health Resources
- The Good Gut by Justin & Erica Sonnernberg
- The Clever Guts Diet Book by Michael Mosley
- The Clever Guts Website
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.
ps. Tired of deciding what to cook?
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] L[/dropcap]ooking for a weekly meal planning service where someone else comes up with the ideas for what to have for dinner?
Then check out my Soupstones Meal Plans.
For more details click here.
So timely! I just this morning googled “diet to improve gut flora”. Your list was better than any that came up; many thanks!
Great minds Karen!
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. :)
I haven’t tried fermenting leeks JEnna but imagine it would work well in a pickled onion vibe. Start with this fermented veg recipe. https://stonesoup.mystagingwebsite.com/2014/08/the-number-1-way-to-improve-your-gut-health/
Or just use the leeks anywhere you’d normlly soften an onion if you want to cook it. The flavour is similar to onion but generally milder and sweeter.
I LOVE leeks!
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.
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
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…
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.
You could add kefir to that list. Even easier to make than yogurt.
PS. I do enjoy your comments, ideas and cauliflower pizza.
I should have added that Sandor Katz is THE fermentation guru. Check out his book The Art of Fermentation …and his blogs.
I’ve seen Sandor speak and he is the master ;)
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.
Glad you find it helpful
I love the info. Would love even more to see followup posts with your simple recipes incorporating these foods. Themed posts!
Thanks for the suggestions Andrea!