Gut health has become more and more of a hot topic these days. That’s because our gut (aka microbiome) contains a world of microbes (bacteria) that play a critical role in our physiology, keeping the body and brain happy. So, obviously, that sounds like something we should want to take care of, right?
Our gut’s trillions of microbes affect the way our body handles and stores fat, how it handles blood sugar, and how it responds to hormones that control hunger. Certain gut bacteria have been found to regulate our mood, producing chemicals in our brain like dopamine and serotonin. It’s also been discovered that there’s a sort of a “second brain” in our gut that communicates with the brain in our head. This communication plays a vital role when it comes to disease and mental health.
So, basically, the health of your body and brain are a reflection of the health of your gut.
How Can You Make Sure Your Microbiome is Functioning at its Prime?
To make sure your gut and digestive health is in tip-top shape, one of the most crucial ingredients you’ll want to keep in mind is fiber. As it turns out, only 3% of Americans are getting enough fiber per day (21-25 grams for women and 30-38 grams for men.) Fiber is what feeds the good bacteria in our gut. Our microbiome then extracts the fiber’s nutrients, vitamins, and energy which has a majorly beneficial impact on our well-being.
These trillions of tiny little microorganisms living in our digestive system thrive off of what we feed them. All you need is a healthy diet with lots and lots of fiber – no supplements needed.
The Best High-fiber Foods for Promoting a Healthy Gut
There are two types of fiber that can be found in foods: fructans and cellulose. Fructans are natural, high-fiber carbs that last a long time in your GI tract, making them great for a clean and healthy gut. Be careful though, heat breaks fructans down so try not to cook fructan-rich foods too much.
Cellulose is also known as insoluble fiber, meaning your body will not digest it, but it’s a good cleanser for your system. You’ll often find it in the tough, chewy parts of veggies like broccoli stems or asparagus stalks.
By aiming for foods that are a good balance in both fructan and cellulose, your microbiome will say ‘thank you’ in ways that you’ll notice both physically and mentally. Here are some deliciously healthy foods that are perfect for a healthy gut.
Leeks have about 10 grams of fructan per stalk. Munch on them by grilling them with olive oil and tossing in a light vinaigrette.
This yummy fruit is great for adding a bit of fiber to your diet. Enjoy some with your morning bowl of oatmeal or unsweetened Greek yogurt.
Not only is asparagus packed with fiber, but it also contains high amounts of vitamin A, K, and folate. You can either grill or bake asparagus for a healthy side dish.
#4 Jerusalem artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes (which are quite different than the artichoke you’re probably familiar with) contain 47 grams of fructan per cup. They’re a superhero food for your gut! Shave some raw Jerusalem artichoke over your salads or as a garnish with soup.
Beans are an excellent source of fiber. Whenever you find the chance, toss in black beans, kidney beans, or red beans to your wraps, salads, and bowls.
It’s a well-known fact that garlic goes with everything. Not only that, but it’s wonderful for your microbiome. Add it to stir-fry, baked fish, or sautees each time you’re cooking
Bananas are incredible at restoring happiness within our gut. They’ll help reduce bloating and aid against inflammation. Nosh on one for a snack or add a frozen banana to your morning smoothie for added creaminess and a fiber boost.
The Bottom Line
A helpful hint when choosing fiber-rich foods is to always think “real, whole foods.” Reach for beans, legumes, and whole grains, as well as whole fruits and veggies. Shifting your diet from one that is meat-focused with lots of processed foods to a diet that is rich in plants can have a significant impact on your health and happiness. Add more fiber to your diet and see what effects it has on you!