Our overall health is primarily determined by the health of our gut. It’s not only about what we eat but about what we digest.
Choosing to eat a Clean diet that contains healthy amounts of all the macro and micronutrients is vital in supporting all of the functions in our body. But if we aren’t able to break foods down properly into their nutritional components due to impaired gut health, then we aren’t going to be able to maintain a healthy body and mind.
Many of us are dealing with symptoms of poor digestion such as occasional constipation, bloating, or heartburn. Others have more severe issues such as IBS, ulcerative colitis, candida overgrowth, SIBO, or leaky gut syndrome. These issues can show up because of a diet filled with excess sugar and processed foods, stress, repeated antibiotic use, or a viral or bacterial infection.
But there is good news! Our gut flora changes quickly when we change our diet, and the cells lining our gut rapidly regenerate meaning that we essentially have a new gut lining every two-three weeks! It may take more than a couple of weeks to heal fully, but when we opt for a nutrient-dense, Clean Eating diet that utilizes the following gut-healing foods, we will reap the benefits of a healthy gut soon enough.
1. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and tempeh are gut-health superstars. When foods are fermented, probiotics are created as well as other beneficial acids and B-vitamins. All of these nutrients help to improve digestive function by assisting in the production of healthy stomach acid levels and pancreatic enzymes.
The probiotics in these foods are especially important since our gut is home to billions, if not trillions, of bacteria. These beneficial bacteria play a significant role in our overall health, especially our digestive health. Keeping them happy and abundant is vital so consuming foods that are rich in probiotics is an excellent choice for improving gut health.
2. Wild Caught Seafood
Wild caught seafood is rich in minerals, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. By consuming the proper amount of omega-3s, we can reduce inflammation and help prevent digestive issues including diseases linked to gut health such as IBS.
The key here is choosing wild caught. Unfortunately, farm-raised fish can wreak havoc on our gut health thanks to all the antibiotics farmed fish are given. Be sure to choose wild-caught seafood that contains low levels of mercury such as salmon, oysters, scallops, cod, and trout to support gut healing further.
Try this oven-baked salmon with lemon cream sauce for dinner!
3. Bone Broth
This healing food can help soothe the digestive system and provides important nutrients and amino acids that can help heal the lining of the gut. You’ll remember from science class that amino acids are building blocks. When our digestive tract is impaired in some way such as with leaky gut syndrome, amino acids are just what we need to rebuild.
One such amino acid found in bone broth is Glutamine. Glutamine is a vital player in the intestinal wall. Consuming foods containing it can help seal up the gut lining and help us maintain healthy gut flora. The collagen in bone broth can act as a prebiotic for our gut flora, and the gelatin can help reduce inflammation. And we know, when inflammation is reduced, healing takes place.
Give this slow cooker homemade bone broth a try and reap the soothing benefits.
4. Coconut Products
The medium chain triglycerides or MCTs found in coconut are excellent for gut healing. MCTs, help reduce inflammation and improve the integrity of the gut lining. Coconut products are also high in lauric acid which is praised for its ability to kill off harmful bacteria and yeast such as candida.
Lauric acid also stimulates the release of cholecystokinin which is a hormone that stimulates the release of digestive enzymes and bile needed for fat and protein digestion. When we digest these foods properly, we are less likely to suffer from digestive issues or bacterial overgrowth.
Coconut oil isn’t the only beneficial coconut product though! Try coconut flour as a grain-free baking alternative. It’s rich in fiber which will help feed the good bacteria in your gut. Coconut butter or manna is incredibly creamy and can be used anywhere you might you use nut butter. And of course, coconut milk is great for curries or chia puddings.
Here are 3-morning chia breakfast bowls with coconut to try!
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar or ACV offers so many benefits when it comes to digestive health. The acid in the vinegar helps boost the production of stomach acid. This allows us to properly break down and absorb nutrients such as protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and B-Vitamins.
Along with boosting stomach acid levels, apple cider vinegar can also kill excess candida in our gut which is known to cause many health issues. Once you remove the bad guys, the stomach can heal, and ACV contains probiotics and enzymes to help the body do just that.
Try drinking 1-2 TB of ACV in a bit of water about 20 minutes before a meal to boost digestive juices and improve digestion.
Well known for its ability to soothe an upset stomach and prevent motion sickness, ginger is a must when it comes to gut health. This healing root contains compounds that have antiviral, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal properties. In addition to being able to kill off the bad guys in our gut that can harm us, ginger is a powerful inflammation fighter and immune booster. When inflammation is reduced, and our immune system is strengthened, complete gut healing can take place.
Some ways to enjoy ginger including sipping on ginger tea either before or after a meal or grating ginger root into a mug of bone broth.
7. Soups & Stews
What’s more comforting than a warm bowl of your favorite bowl of soup or stew? I can’t think of much! Soups and stews can be a great way to calm an irritated gut. For many people with leaky gut or SIBO, raw vegetables can be tough to digest, further inflaming the gut. But we still need our vegetables! That’s where soup comes in. By cooking a batch of veggie-filled soup or stew, we can still get all the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals needed to promote a healthy body while giving our digestive system a bit of a break.
You can customize soups and stews to fit your needs and your taste. Using healing spices such as turmeric and ginger can further enhance the gut-healing benefits of soup.
Here are a few soups & stews to try!