In last week’s blog I talked about why you should love your gut – all it does for you and how it impacts the health of your entire body. This week I want to give you some additional tips on categories of foods you can choose to help nourish your gut the best that you can.

Two of the categories are foods you can add and two are foods you should avoid as much as possible. I will point out again, because I think it is so very important, that research shows within 1-3 days your diet can significantly alter the composition of your gut microbiome. Every day you can make choices to love your gut!

Add Polyphenols

What is a polyphenol? It is a plant chemical – a compound found in plant foods that has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help to protect cells from damage. Having a diet rich in antioxidants and rich in polyphenols is very beneficial for disease prevention and overall good health. Research in the journal Anaerobe in 2013 and the journal Molecules in 2015 both describe a modulation of gut bacteria caused by dietary polyphenols. We know that this rich antioxidant intake protects cells, but also intake of these nutrient rich foods may be altering your gut bacteria.

Where do you get polyphenols in your diet? Polyphenols may be found in seasonings, fruits or vegetables in the diet. The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition identified the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols by weight. Cloves, peppermint, oregano, sage and rosemary were found to be rich sources of polyphenols. When seeking out antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables I recommend looking for foods vibrant in color. The identification was consistent with that as the highest content was found in fruits including chokeberry, elderberry, blueberry, plums, cherries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries. The richest vegetable sources of polyphenols include olives, artichokes and red onions. Though fruits and seasonings contain the highest source of polyphenols. Antioxidants will also be found in many other vegetables including broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens, and leeks.

Add Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates contain fiber and fiber feeds the intestinal microbiome. Fermentation of dietary fiber in the gut produces short chain fatty acids. One function of these short chain fatty acids is to provide an energy source for the cells that line the colon. It is believed that some of these short chain fatty acids may also be responsible for the anticancer properties of dietary fiber. In particular apples, citrus fruits, legumes, corn and oats are rich sources of these fibers.

Remove Fried Foods

When animal foods that are rich in fat and protein are cooked at high temperatures or cooked in dry heat a compound is produced called advanced glycation end products (AGE’s). When AGE’s are formed they create inflammation which may exacerbate permeability in the intestinal lining allowing for molecules to enter the bloodstream that don’t belong. Avoiding fried foods, or grilling or broiling in a healthier manner will help to reduce AGE’s. For example, marinating meats before cooking will reduce exposure to AGE’s. Also, adding moisture to cooking helps – methods such as steaming, stewing, poaching, braising or blanching.

Remove Refined Foods

Evidence discussed in the journal Nutrients in 2012 described changes in gut bacteria with changes in dietary carbohydrate intake. Diets rich in complex carbohydrates are believed to produce fewer pathogenic species of bacteria while diets rich in refined sugars may mediate the overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria.

I understand, it can feel overwhelming to try to make sense of all the information regarding nutrition and promotion of good health. Take it one day at a time, one meal at a time and make the best choices you can. Do what you can to add foods that nourish and remove foods that don’t. Your gut will thank you.

If you are ready to heal your gut so you CAN lose weight, gain energy and feel great again, click here to contact Lynda today!

There is no one size fits all approach to nutrition and healthy living. Recommendations given are not intended to replace the personalized guidance of a health professional.