How does the gut react to foods?
The gut is lined with cells that are constantly renewing themselves. When we eat, the food comes into contact with these cells, and the gut responds in a number of ways. For example, the gut may secrete enzymes that break down the food, absorb nutrients from the food, or regulate the movement of food through the digestive system. But the gut responds differently to different foods, let’s find out how.
- Low fiber food – When a person consumes low fiber food, you notice that the food particles cannot travel in your body smoothly. You do not visit the washroom daily or may face severe problems while passing stools. You feel congested inside your own body. Your gut calls for more fiber by showing it through irregular bowel movements. Moreover, not eating enough fiber also causes an unfavorable impact on your immunity and cardiovascular health as well.
- Highly acidic food – It is a theory that when a person eats more acidic foods, it leads to a number of gastrointestinal and chronic diseases. Acidic foods refer to oily and spicy foods and gravies and can even include high-amount of citrus foods. So, when your gut already has an issue and cannot digest heavy foods, acidic meals could result in indigestion and gas. You will also suffer from heartburn, burping, belching, vomiting, and other symptoms that aggravate gut health issues if you continue the acidic diet.
- No probiotic and prebiotic foods – When you do not consume foods with prebiotic and probiotic values or with less of the same, you are not thinking about your gut flora balance. Not considering the importance of prebiotics and probiotics can tamper with the number of bad gut bacteria in your body and increase its number, and the healthy gut bacteria get tampered with as well, which reduces in number. As a result, the number of bad and unhealthy gut bacteria surpasses that of the good ones, and it can impact your gut flora balance. Yes, you need to be cautious at this stage, as some of the unwanted symptoms must have already come to the surface.
What makes an item qualify as a Digestive Superfood?
We are all aware of the term superfoods. As the name indicates, a superfood is loaded with essential nutrients to let your body function properly and ensure overall well-being. You don’t have to look around in specialty stores for them, as superfoods are the foods that are available in the local market, but we tend to ignore them. These days, you can find many brands claiming certain foods as superfoods, but they are expensive. People buy these foods blindly, thinking that they are taking care of their health.
But it is not the case. Superfoods do not have to be expensive and marketed heavily. They need to be inclusive of certain traits, as given below. When you are in the market for shopping superfoods, answer specific questions to yourself and ensure that they meet the given criteria. We have discussed the four pointers you need to look for in a superfood.
- Fiber Content – A superfood is fibrous in nature or contains an optimal amount of fiber in it. Fiber is necessary for gut health as it enables regular bowel movements smoothly. Fiber is good for digestion as well. When you suffer from constipation, it has an impact on your mental health as well. In such situations, you feel mentally fatigued and confused and cannot find clarity in your thoughts. You also become irritated.
- Prebiotic/Probiotic Contribution – Of course, a superfood needs to have a proper content of prebiotics and probiotics, or else it doesn’t help at all. Prebiotics and probiotics are the vital substances that ensure an appropriate gut flora balance and ensure that the healthy gut bacteria in your body are taken care of and increased in number. When you consult a medical health expert, they will surely acquaint you with the prebiotics and probiotics and suggest you increase your intake.
- Plant-Based Foods – We all know animal meat has an unfavorable reputation for gut-health-conscious people. Fish could be better sometimes, but lean meat and red meat are hard on your stomach, can lead to digestive issues, and can also make the gut suffer. Hence, it is better to look for plant-based foods as superfoods and not vice versa. Plant-based food is not heavy on your gut and facilitates better digestion as it contains other valued traits as well.
- Low Saturated Fats – Fats are hard to digest, plus they result in imbalanced weight and other malfunctions in the body. Healthy fats are good, but too much-saturated fat can block your arteries and increase the risks of cardiovascular disease. Hence, superfoods need to be low in saturated fats. Superfoods should balance out the amount of good cholesterol in your body. Just like the gut flora balance, the cholesterol in your body also needs to be balanced, and a low intake of saturated fats guarantees that.
The Top 7 Digestive Superfoods
A superfood doesn’t have to drain your wallet or be the most expensive and rarest item on supermarket shelves. Also, it does not have to be the rarest and most exotic fruit in the world. Superfoods are easily available and can suit any layman’s pockets. So, here is a list of the best digestive superfoods you should add to your routine. Ensure that you consume them regularly and not once in a blue moon.
Whether you are lactose intolerant, or a gluten-intolerant person, you can pick packets of oats and fill up your pantry with them easily. You can make a great variety of recipes using oats for breakfast and even lunch. You can eat them daily.
Oats are great for gut health; experts have mentioned it long back. It makes you feel full after breakfast, and you don’t notice your stomach bloating during the day. When you feel full, you don’t have to munch on foods all the time, and so your digestion happens smoothly.
However, stay far from the processed oats and other ready-to-cook options available in the market because they might contain Trans-fat. Buy the original version of oats and use your creativity to cook different dishes for breakfast.
The old saying that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ might sound cliché in this post, but certainly, apples are excellent for a healthy gut. They are full of prebiotic fiber, which is converted into pectin and then, subsequently, into short-chain fatty acids. As a result, your microbiome becomes healthy. It also contributes to good skin health and an active immune system.
It is better to eat a whole apple and not squeeze the juice out of it, as mixing it in a blender with water will drain its fibrous content. You can add the chopped slices and pieces in yogurt or spread peanut butter on it. Eat an apple daily; your gut will be happy and healthy with its supply.
#3. Chicory root powder.
Are you a coffee person, and are you proud of it? Well, the news is that coffee is tampering with your sleep schedule, gut health, and overall well-being. But it doesn’t mean you have to give up on the coffee taste. Substitute your coffee beverage with chicory root powder. It contains vital minerals such as folate, calcium, and phosphorus. It also contains prebiotic fiber and is beneficial for your good gut bacteria.
It has a regular coffee flavor, but its drawbacks aren’t present in it. You can roast and ground it in a powdered form and make a nice cup of coffee out of it. Your local grocery store will have this product, or you can even find it online.
It is true that flaxseeds do not appeal to people in terms of taste. But these are a boon for your gut health, and you will always notice that they are mentioned in the list of digestive superfoods. It has rich fibrous content and reduces gut inflammation. It produces sufficient mucus in the digestive tract and keeps the gut barrier and intestinal lining healthy.
Flaxseeds are tasteless; we agree with that fact too. But you can add it to smoothies in a grounded, powdered form and salads and soups.
It is strong in taste, but it is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent and improvesthe aroma and flavor of your recipe. It is good for muscle pains, acidity, and motion sickness as well. It enables smooth movement inside your digestive system. You can munch on a little bit of ginger before eating to get rid of acidity, burps, and heartburn. You can add it to teas and gravies or toss it in a dip for maximum taste and benefits.
Who can forget this powerhouse of Vitamin C? But apart from strengthening your gums, kiwis are great for people who want to stay away from constipation. In a 2021 study, it was reported that kiwis are much better in curing constipation in patients than regular psyllium. The side effects are nil and are easy to digest.
The last one on this list is yogurt, which is a natural supplier of probiotics to your body without any unfavorable effects. In a 2021 study, it was observed that yogurt safeguards the microbiome after consumption of antibiotics and hence is 100 percent beneficial for the gut. It is good for digestion, immunity, and inflammation issues as well.
In addition to these, add more fermented foods such as Korean pickled cabbage, fibrous foods, freshly cooked meals, and seeds and nuts to your diet. Reduce the consumption of processed foods, and your gut will be unhampered.
How are Superfoods Nutritious for us?
Superfoods have a higher nutritional profile. You can find more nutrients per food calorie, and the number of calories is also lesser than in other foods. As a result, it is better to consume superfoods and no other foods that are packed with more calories and lesser nutrients.
- Superfoods Facilitate Weight Loss – When you are on a weight loss, you need something that is more nutritious but does not add to your body weight. In such cases, superfoods come to the scene. Some fermented foods also are helpful in weight management and contribute to good gut health.
- Superfoods Help Cure Ailments – Superfoods can help heal and treat certain health conditions such as PCOS in women, diabetes, hypertension, hormonal imbalance, and others. Well, we don’t say that you need to rely only on superfoods, but you should seek maximum health benefits from these superfoods.
- Superfoods also contain Antioxidants and Amino Acids – Our bodies need antioxidants, and the more we consume, the more it is beneficial for our health. Superfoods contain antioxidants, and so reduce inflammation, thereby protecting your gut microbiome. You can absorb the ingredients in your food easily.
- Superfoods Eliminate Nutritional Deficiencies – When you suffer from a nutritional deficiency, you can see the symptoms in your body. You might witness the breaking of nails often or severe hair loss, or your knees making a cracking noise when you walk. And one can overcome all such issues with superfoods as they are loaded with nutrients. Your nutritional deficiencies are settled, and your body functions smoothly. You don’t have to depend on frequent supplementation or take injections to restore the nutritional content in your body. The superfoods do the job wonderfully.
Do superfoods help in gut health?
Of course. The gastrointestinal tract sustains your overall health, and one of the ways to nurture and enhance its stability is to consume more amounts of fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics while simultaneously staying away from unhealthy fats and heavy meals, and animal meat.
Breaking news! Superfoods contain all of these elements, and hence, they are excellent for your gut health. With superfoods added to your diet, your healthy bacteria receive a boost, and the fiber content in the superfoods enables better and smooth bowel movements, and the prebiotics and probiotics content ensure the balance of microrganisms.
So, you can be 100 percent sure that superfoods enhance good intestinal bacteria; hence adding them is a good thing you can do for your good bacteria.
For are the discomforts for which one can turn to superfoods?
- Constipation, or discomfort and pain while emptying your bowels – If you have this issue, it is because you don’t consume enough fibrous foods. Fiber ensures great digestive health.
- Leaky gut syndrome – Superfoods help in healing a leaky gut and ensures healthy gut microbes. You should note that studies have shown that a balanced diet helps in reducing symptoms of leaky gut. So, ensure to add these foods, depending on your suitability to the same, and also make sure to avoid foods that aggravate leaky gut symptoms, check out the list of leaky guts food to avoid.
- High acidity levels – If you have frequent heartburn or you experience acidity symptoms (and note that there are several of them), you need to skip the oily and acidic foods and focus on these superfoods. It will balance the alkaline and acidic content in your body, and help you live without feeling any discomfort in the future.
- Issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Superfoods need to be added to your routine if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or autoimmune disorders. They are like a natural cure to such aggravating issues, and the symptoms will start subsiding when you add these foods to your routine regularly.
Certain Lifestyle changes that can aid Superfoods
We know superfoods are a blessing to your gut microbiome, but how can you add value to your routine and improve your health to its optimum level in the following ways:
- Move around – Move your body, exercise, participate in a sport, dance, or go for long walks in nature, or at your residential block, whatever seems feasible. Here are some Exercises For Gut that you can learn about. Your gut needs some movement, too, as lack of mobility can restrict bowel movement, leading to problems such as indigestion, gas, and constipation. So, as you consume healthy and wholesome meals, pay attention to whether you have moved your body or not.
- Get good sleep – We flaunt our busy lifestyles and feel like we have committed a sin when we rest. Or some of us are so addicted to Netflix that we prefer binging watching rather than giving our body some rest. Ensure that you get a sound sleep of around 7-8 hours a day, depending upon your body’s need for sleep. Some people need more sleep, while others do well even with 5 hours of deep slumber. Also, switch off the gadgets and do not drink and sleep. You can meditate, talk to your family members or read something light before you go off to sleep.
- Be mindful while eating – This is one of the best lifestyle changes you can make. Your gut will thank you when you pay complete attention to what you are eating. Don’t eat while watching TV or using your mobile, and don’t talk excessively when you are chewing your food. Just enjoy the flavors and aromas of your food, and don’t forget to thank the cook for making it for you.
- Plan your meals – You have got the superfoods and fiber-rich foods, but if you don’t schedule eating them, they will be in your pantry forever. Hence, we suggest investing time in meal planning every day, or whenever you seem fit, and weekends are a must. Ensure that you know the recipes and plan them out, you can also check out some Healthy Gut Diet Plan ideas from here. In this way, you will focus more on eating superfoods and not on eating based on your impulses. Plan out when you will be eating whole grains and when you should schedule your intake of fermented milk. Everything should be meticulous.
In a nutshell, when you plan your meals for the next week, we suggest adding these above superfoods into your routine in moderate amounts. We do not infer in eating these foods alone, but if you add them to your diet along with the right prebiotic and probiotic gut supplementation and other lifestyle tips, your gut-beneficial bacteria will thank you for it and show its love by nurturing your digestion and overall well-being.
Hence, never take your gut environment too casually and create an unfavorable situation, and love it by feeding it with the above nutritious foods. Also, you don’t have to compromise even a bit on the flavor, or taste as you can make plenty of tasty recipes with superfoods.