Want to lose weight and boost your well-being? Then you need to eat these top 8 gut-friendly foods and include them in a healthy gut diet.
Chances are, the only time you actually think about your gut is when there’s something wrong with it. But, this year, all that’s going to change. ‘The gut is probably the most exciting subject in health right now,’ says Amanda Hamilton, co-author of The G Plan Diet.
A mountain of research now shows that gut health is the key to good digestion, your weight, energy levels, immunity, brain health and well-being. ‘Healthy bacteria in your gut help you digest food, protect you against pathogens, provide nutrients, enzymes and hormones, and train your immune system,’ says Amanda.
1. Nuts and seeds
Not only are they an amazing source of unsaturated essential fats, protein, fibre and minerals, nuts are also probiotics and known to enhance the diversity of the microbiome. Studies suggest our microbes feed off the fatty acids and polyphenols in nuts (and in olive oil), breaking them down into smaller compounds that help to lower lipid levels and boost your immune system,’ says Amanda.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink. It has a slight fizz, a clean, vinegary taste and is teeming with so many probiotics, you feel instantly virtuous sipping on it. It’s traditionally brewed at home using black or green tea and sugar, with a starter culture called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). This ferments to produce an acidic ‘functional beverage’ that has also been found to contain polyphenols, enzymes, amino acids, B vitamins and vitamin C.
3. Live yoghurt
It’s naturally teeming with probiotic ‘live’ bacteria, such as lactic-acid bacteria (particularly Lactobacillus acidophilus), which can make it through the digestive system to set up home in your large intestine and increase your levels of healthy bacteria.
‘You already know they’re the perfect energy snack. But did you know bananas are a probiotic powerhouse?,’ Amanda says. Give the good bacteria in your gut a good start to the day by having a hearty breakfast of a banana-based smoothie. The fibre-rich banana also tops up your potassium levels, making them the perfect pre- or post-gym snack.
Garlic is a valuable probiotic – a source of indigestible fibre that helps feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. The bulb is also packed with protective vitamins andplant chemicals, including vitamins B6 and C, manganese and selenium,’ says Amanda. It’s an antioxidant and also contains a compound called allicin, linked with good circulation and heart health, as well as boosting immunity and reducing colds.
Another probiotic fibre provider, these delicious spears deserve a regular place in your diet. They’re also rich in the B vitamin folate; antioxidant vitamins C and E; vitamins A and K and chromium,’ says Amanda. And they have diuretic properties, so they can help with water retention and bloating.
Pronounced ‘kee-fer’, kefir is like a live yoghurt drink with as much as three times the probiotic power. It’s made by adding kefir ‘grains’ to any dairy or plant/nut milk. The grains provide a live colony of bacteria and yeast and these ferment with the milk, producing lots of bacteria species known to benefit the microbiome. As well as the friendly bacteria, it has many other nutrients such as protein, calcium, potassium, folic acid, lactic acid, biotin, vitamins K and B.
This Japanese seasoning is made from fermenting soya beans, barley and brown rice, so it gets another cheer from your large intestine, which loves the probiotics it provides. It gives dishes that delicious, savoury taste.
Read the full article in your July issue of Fit Life.