Foods to Improve Your Gut Health

This is the second in a series of four articles written by our Hormone Health Associate, Nigel Denby on the challenges of IBS.

Improving the health of your gut can benefit your physical health overall and also help to alleviate symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, and painful bowel conditions.

We all have trillions of gut bacteria, and it is believed that bacteria in our gut (our gut microbiome) is influential to our physical health and especially our digestive health.   The connection between our brains and our gut is crucial to ensure our digestive system works correctly.

The bacteria in our gut can be affected by several factors including our diet, any medication we are taking such as antibiotics, and the levels of stress we experience.

If you are keen to improve your gut health then a good place to start is to focus on introducing foods that are known to be beneficial. You may feel overwhelmed by claims of wonder foods that will provide miracle cures so we want to provide you with information on some readily available foods that you can easily incorporate into your diet.

Dark chocolate

Music to the ears of all chocolate lovers and those with a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is a good choice to improve gut health due to its high fibre content. It contains 10g of fibre per 100g, similar to a bowl of bran flake-style cereal.

Dark chocolate is very high in polyphenols which are compounds high in antioxidants that help combat certain forms of stress in the body. Polyphenols act like fibre in the body and feed gut bacteria such as Lactobacillus.

dark chocolate

Kefir

Kefir is sold in most supermarkets making it a readily available and affordable option for improving gut health. Kefir is produced by adding special grains to milk. These grains then ferment to produce bacteria such as Lactobacillus. It is believed that this type of bacteria will arrive in your gut alive and may then stay forever and colonise or simply pass on through. They produce compounds such as metabolites that help to boost our immune system and improve our mental health.

Kefir may taste sour initially but soon becomes a favourite. It can be added to high fibre cereals and chia seeds for a quick and easy breakfast or snack. Some brands of Kefir are suitable for vegan and lactose intolerant diets and so it is a great option for many people.

Kiwi fruit

Kiwi fruit is a great choice of fruit simply because they taste great but they have other benefits too.

Snacking on Kiwi fruit helps to ease constipation as they contain a lot of soluble fibre. Scientists also believe they contain the enzyme Actinidin which helps to speed up gut movements. This was confirmed by a scientific study of people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which found that eating two kiwis fruits a day resulted in fewer people suffering from constipation. Most people don’t need to eat two each day but it is sensible to include kiwi fruits on your weekly shopping list.

Kiwi fruit

Article written by Nigel Denby, BSc Hons, RD Registered Dietitian

@menopause_dietitian
Founder of www.harleystathome.com