Dahlia Marin is the Functional Registered Dietitian at the Mission Hospital Wellness Corner at Sendero Marketplace in Rancho Mission Viejo.
It’s no surprise that what you eat plays a major role in the health of your digestive system, but are you making sure to incorporate these gut-healing foods into your daily diet? Check out these whole foods built to promote and maintain optimal gut health.
Fiber plays a huge role in your body’s overall digestive health, especially when it comes to keeping things moving along. Whole food fiber feeds the good bacteria to keep the bad from taking over and causing systemic health issues. The average American only gets about half of the recommended 30 grams of daily fiber. Fiber can be found in most vegetables, including kale, jicama, broccoli, carrots, and spinach. Gradually adding more fiber to your diet will do wonders to make your body more regular, avoiding the ebb and flow of gut pains throughout the digestive process. Include a rainbow of veggies daily and stay healthy inside and out.
Dairy-Free Probiotic Yogurt
Contrary to popular belief, not all bacteria are bad. Roughly 100 trillion “good” bacteria live in your gut at any given time, and it’s important that you keep these healthy bacteria alive. By eating foods with probiotics, like dairy-free yogurt or fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, you’re increasing the amount of good bacteria in your gut, essentially improving the ratio of good-to-bad in your favor. Probiotics work by looking out for the health of your intestinal lining, particularly your large intestine or colon. This not only improves the muscle contractions, but reduces overall pain and discomfort. You can take probiotics in supplement form for more targeted effects, but should also include them daily in the form of healthy whole foods! Try coconut probiotic yogurt with no added sugar; sugar feeds bad bacteria and defeats the purpose of the yogurt. Look for plain varieties to add your own fruit, nuts, and seeds to, or brands only using fruit puree to add flavor. You can also make your own by emptying a high quality probiotic into coconut milk and simmering.
You either love it or you hate it -- but no matter how you feel about kombucha, it’s making a name for itself for good reason. This fizzy drink with the tart vinegar taste has been popping up in shops and restaurants at an unusually quick pace as people begin to learn, understand, and experience its health benefits. The thick off-white substance often seen floating around the bottom of the bottle, known as the “mother,” is actually a cluster of yeast and other healthy bacteria that ferment the tea, which is necessary for it to develop its probiotic properties. Stick to brands without added sugar.
Most fruits offer 3-4 grams of fiber each, but raspberries win the race with 8 grams per cup! Raspberries are just one of the many fruits known to improve overall gut health. They specifically work by promoting the health and harmony of the body’s good bacteria, which keeps inflammation at bay. The high levels of antioxidants found in this little dose of nature’s candy also go a long way in fighting off pro-inflammatory cancer-causing substances in the body.
Ginger is one of many herbs and spices known as a “carminative,” a food item specifically built to prevent the formation of or relieve existing gas in the digestive tract. In addition to cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and more, ginger works to heal the gut from the inside out. Ginger has long been renowned for its success as a traditional remedy for nausea or stomach discomfort, so it’s no surprise to learn that every scientific study done on ginger’s effect in the gut has turned up with glowing reviews. In fact, the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology performed a study in 2008 and discovered that when people took ginger capsules along with a meal, the food processed faster and, as a result, their stomachs emptied at a much quicker pace.