Gut health has become a trendy topic recently, as you can read in our blog posts on Gut Microbiota and Probiotics. It can mean different things to different people. For some it’s alleviation of constipation, or perhaps bloating after eating; for others, it may be acne or lethargy that can be linked to poor gut health.
Many trendy foods promise gut health benefits, but they aren’t always the easiest products to lay your hands on, or incorporate into your diet. The following, more accessible options can help.
Kefir is a great breakfast or snack option to support your gut. It may seem sour at first, but you’ll soon become addicted! Kefir is produced by adding special grains to milk. The grains then ferment and produce bacteria (bugs), such as Lactobacillus. These bugs are believed to make it to your gut alive, and once there may stay forever and colonise, or simply pass on through. They produce compounds known as metabolites, that help our bodies in a whole host of ways, from bolstering our immune system to improving our mental health.
Kefir is sold in most supermarkets, making it an accessible and affordable good gut food. There are even kefir options for vegan and lactose intolerance diets, making it even more accessible. Simply pairing kefir with a high fibre granola and chia seeds can be a quick and tasty way to fuel your gut bugs.
Chocolate is often demonised when it comes to healthy eating and gut health due to its high sugar content. However, if you’re looking for a scientific reason to enjoy chocolate regularly, look no further than dark chocolate. It contains 10g of fibre per 100g, which is as much as a bowl of bran flake cereal.
Dark chocolate is also very high in polyphenols - compounds high in antioxidants that help combat certain forms of stress within the body. These polyphenols act as fibre in the body and feed gut bacteria such as Lactobacillus. Moreover, it’s a great option for a sweet choice.
Far less known for its gut health benefits, kiwis are a much loved snack by a lot of people, mainly for their tangy taste. But what people often don’t realise is that kiwis are great for helping with gut motility, i.e., they can ease constipation, as they contain a lot of soluble fibre. Scientists also believe kiwis contain an enzyme called Actinidin which helps to speed up gut movements. Both these processes are thought to help bulk out, soften and speed up stools.
A scientific study found that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who consumed two kiwis a day were less constipated. And while you don’t need to eat two kiwis a day to feel the full benefit of this fruit, adding just a little to your diet may help relieve constipation symptoms.. It will also help diversify your diet and give your gut microbes a variety of foods to feed on.
Alice Morgan is a third year nutrition student at Oxford Brookes University, with an interest in all things gut health. You can find Alice on LinkedIn at alicemorgan99.
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