What is gut health?
The medical literature and the food & nutrition industry have dawned with the realization of the critical organ Gastrointestinal Tract (GI tract) and its health benefits.
Popularly known as the ‘Gut Health’ in this modern era, the gut microbiota plays an important role in the health and well-being of the person.
The food travels from the mouth to the stomach, it absorbs the nutrients in the body, stores energy and excretes the substances from the body in a timely manner.
The gut microbiota holds multiple health benefits in the aspects of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). The GI tract aids in effective digestion, absorption and excretion of the food from the body, improved gut health and decreased illness.
Good gut health maintains the immune system and well-being of a person. Taking good care of the body is essential in today’s world. The one who nourishes his body wins life! Let us look at why maintaining gut health is important.
Importance of gut health
In recent years, many researchers and scientists have looked at the bigger picture of the GI system that is even bigger and complex than its previously known importance.
The GI tract is full of trillions of gut bacteria that not only help us process food but that also help our bodies maintain homeostasis (state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by living systems) and overall well-being.
The experts have mentioned that the key may lie in the microbiome (the makeup of bacteria) and other microorganisms in the stomach and intestines.
There are few generalities when it comes to healthy gut microbiota. Every individual has a unique microbiome developed in his or her gut.
Healthy gut involves a various array of microorganisms in the gut like most bacteria, some include fungi, viruses and other microbes as well.
Animal experiments and some human data have shown that the gut communicates with bacteria that support digestion by their enzymatic capacity.
Impact of gut health on your body
The GI microbiome prevents colonization by pathogenic microorganisms, provides energy for the gut wall from undigested food. The GI system also regulates the immune system, serving as an important source of immune stimulators.
Some of the bacteria fight inflammation while some promote it. When your gut is healthy, it can lead to good mental well-being defeating the anxiety, stress and depression and to neurological conditions like schizophrenia and dementia.
How to Improve Gut Health
Here are some tricks and foods to help you clean your gut at home.
Food for Gut Health
Diet and gut health is closely linked. Avoiding high-fat foods, processed foods, and foods high in sugars is extremely important to maintaining a healthy microbiome, as these foods destroy good bacteria and promote growth of damaging bacteria. There are also a number of foods you can eat that actively promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, contributing to your overall health. These foods include:
High-fiber foods for Gut health
High-fiber foods in other words foods high in fiber content such as green leafy vegetables, legumes, beans, peas, oats, asparagus have shown a positive impact on gut health in numerous studies.
Garlic and onion for Gut health
Garlic holds a high place in the list of foods for stomach and is also known to cure acid reflux. Garlic and onion may have immune system-enhancing properties as Garlic is naturally high in inulin, a type of non-digestible carbohydrate or “functional fiber” that feeds the good bacteria in your digestive system. Ph levels of garlic help improve gut health.
Fermented foods for Gut health
Fermented foods are great dietary sources of probiotics. Probiotics play a very vital role in cleaning the gut. Following are some fermented foods:
Sauerkraut often found as a topping on hot dogs predominantly comprising of cabbage and salt, is a fermented food that is sure to deliver a healthy dose of probiotics and fiber. This garnish can be easily prepared at home or bought off the supermarkets.
Sauerkraut’s Korean cousin, this fermented cabbage dish often deemed as the pickle of the east. A specialty in the Asians kitchens, this pickled cabbage does way more that merely tickling your taste buds. Eat it on it’s own or try it as a burger topper or atop tacos.
Tempeh or tempe is an Indonesian soy product prepared from fermented soybeans. Tempeh is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a delicious and wholesome cake like dessert.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that tastes like drinkable yogurt. Kefir is full of calcium and probiotics. Just like yogurt, probiotics in kefir help break down lactose which is a complex sugar found in milk that is usually difficult to digest . Kefir is delicious in smoothies or by itself.
Collagen foods for Gut health
Collagen-rich foods such as bone broth and salmon may be beneficial to overall health and gut health specifically. Many of these benefits are anecdotal conclusions and further research could be done. You could also try to boost your body’s own collagen production through foods. Try adding a variety of foods, like mushrooms, good dairy, or certain meats
Yogurt for Gut health
Yogurt, a afermented food naturally contains lots of probiotic cultures that strengthen the digestive tract. Some Greek yogurt also contains probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei that may help increase the good bacteria in your gut. Add fresh fruits, seeds, nuts and a little granola to a bowl of plain yogurt for a filling breakfast or afternoon snack.
Buttermilk (Chaas) for stomach
Buttermilk- that one drink that unites most indian states be it in the northern part of India as “Chaas” or Kachimoru down south- is one power packed drink that your gut is sure to love. Buttermilk is a lighter and more digestible version of the otherwise full fat and cream laden Greek Yogurt and Curd and can be consumed by all. This is the most ideal way of absorbing the probiotics off of curds without the added calories. To make this drink- simply dilute 2 tbsps of curd with water and add salt, ginger powder as per your taste.