How important is gut health?
A growing body of research suggests that your gut plays a vital role in your overall health and well-being. A healthy gut doesn’t only assist the digestion, but also strengthens the immune system. The good bacteria in your gut keep you healthy by generating vitamins, assisting the immune machine and averting dangerous microorganism.
Your gut is where different microorganism and microbes – both good and bad—reside and it can affect your health in lots of ways. So, it is important is to keep the ratio in the right balance. Having a diverse diet rich in whole foods is an excellent way to impact the type of bacteria found in your gut.
Here are some of the best foods that can help improve your gut health naturally:
- Fresh Vegetables and Fruits
High-fiber foods, like fresh vegetables and fruits, are considered as prebiotics as they promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance, providing food for gut bacteria. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and remains unchanged as it passes through the digestive tract. It speeds up waste processing and disposal, helping prevent constipation.
Blueberries, apples, artichokes, almonds and pistachios are some of the best sources of fiber that can increase Bifidobacteria in humans. Bifidobacteria are known as beneficial bacteria since they can improve gut health and help prevent intestinal inflammation. Whole grains, beans and peas are also high in fiber.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink with a particularly unique flavor. It tastes slightly sweet and sour and is effervescent. It’s made by adding symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeast) and sugar to green or black tea. Lactic acid bacteria, which are known to serve as a probiotic, are created when tea ferments. Probiotic drinks and foods contain live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that can increase the amount beneficial bacteria in your gut. It promotes healthy digestive system, which is the key to your overall health.
However, it’s important to know that certain kombuchas, such as those made with black tea, contain caffeine. Always check the labels, or make your own, since some also include artificial sweeteners that might disrupt gut microbiome and negate the benefits of taking it.
Not only a very popular food/drink, Yogurt is also one of the best sources of probiotics. It’s made by adding two strains of bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, to milk. Some yogurts, like Greek yogurt, also contain additional probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and x, which help boost the good bacteria in the gut. Consuming yogurt helps to maintain a healthy gut microbiota, which is essential for the body’s general and digestive systems to function at their best.
Kimchi is a traditional fermented food that originates from Korea, and it’s quite popular worldwide. It comes in a variety of forms, depending on the ingredients and procedures used during preparation. The most common components for kimchi are napa cabbage and radish. Kimchi is distinguished by its flavor, which imparts sweet, sour and slightly carbonated flavors.
Kimchi is fermented by a variety of microorganisms found in the raw ingredients. The genera Lactobacillus, Weissella and Leuconostoc of lactic acid bacteria are believed to be the main contributors to the fermentation of kimchi. As a probiotic food, Kimchi promotes many health benefits such as maintaining healthy digestion by keeping a balanced gut flora, improving heart health by lowering cholesterol and the risk of inflammation and enhancing the immune system with vitamin C supply.
Tempeh, you can also call it tempe, is a popular Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans. This traditional food is widely consumed throughout the country on a daily basis. To produce tempeh, dehulled, boiled soybeans are fermented with a mold, Rhizopus sp. The fermentation leads to a variety of nutritional changes that improve its nutritive value. Not only a great source of protein, tempeh is also rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Tempe is a very versatile probiotic food that can be processed into a variety of dishes, including to be used as a meat substitute. It can be fried, grilled, steamed or even stewed. Simply seek for Indonesian food recipes to learn how to cook tempeh into a variety of delicious dishes.
Miso is another fermented food made from soybeans, although there are also other ingredients that can be used such as rice, barley and buckwheat. This is a thick paste commonly made in Japan. Making miso involves inoculating a combination of cooked soybeans with koji mold, Aspergillus oryzae grown on steamed rice. The fermentation process may take several months, or even years, to create the desired flavor.
Miso’s abundance of probiotic bacteria may improve the immune system and help reduce the risk of infection. It’s also rich in vitamins, isoflavones, minerals, lecithin and proteins.
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