Good digestive (gut) health is the cornerstone of our immune system, helping to fend off illnesses and help us thrive. It will come as no surprise, then, that looking after our guts and understanding a bit more about what they do for us is an important part in staying healthy.
Fibre-rich sources of antioxidant vitamins include:
Carotenoids: Found in carrots, red peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, spinach, kale, broccoli, watermelon, mangoes and corn.
Flavonoids: Found in raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, onions and beans
Selenium:Found in Brazil nuts, whole wheat, eggs and fish.
Folate: Found in green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts and wholegrains.
Vitamin C: Found in broccoli, cabbage, spinach, citrus fruits, red and green peppers, kiwi fruit, strawberries, sweet potatoes and tomatoes
Vitamin E: Found in nuts, seeds, wheatgerm, whole grains and avocados.
Digestive system-friendly foods.
Water: Many of us may exist in a semi-dehydrated state, which can often lead to niggling health problems that we might not realise are connected, such as indigestion, bloating, irregular bowel movements, as well as headaches and lack of concentration. Drink little and often throughout the day.
Rice: Some may benefit by choosing non-gluten cereal grains like rice more often. The starch in rice, particularly basmati rice, is digested and absorbed slowly, thereby providing a steady release of glucose into the blood for sustained energy.
Ginger: Compounds called gingerols have anti-inflammatory properties, helping reduce pain in conditions such as arthritis. Ginger root has been historically associated with helping to sooth the digestive system and stomach pains by eliminating excess gas, as well as being found to reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Try adding fresh ginger to hot water to make a warming drink – perfect for a cold day.
Pears: Pears are known to be one of the least allergenic foods and are very gentle on the gut, so are well tolerated by almost everyone. Pears are good sources of the soluble fibre pectin and of bioflavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants and may protect against a range of diseases.
Probiotics: Probiotics, help to maintain a healthy balance of so-called good and bad bacteria in our gut. This balance of microbes, can be thrown out by a wide range of circumstances, including the use of drugs, excess alcohol, stress, disease or exposure to environmental toxins. When this happens, it can lead to an increase in the harmful bacteria that cause ill-health.
Fermented foods: Such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurt, tempeh, miso, and kefir are great dietary sources of probiotics. Including plain live yoghurt in your diet, subbing coconut milk with it in curry, or adding it to fruit or cereals will give you what you need. You don’t necessarily need branded products specifically marketed as ‘gut friendly’.
Prebiotics: Prebiotics are nutrients and constituents of food that our gut flora feed upon, thus increasing the number of microbes found in the gut. Prebiotics include compounds known as fructo-oligosaccharides, which are found naturally in many complex carbohydrates and plants, including leeks, onions, wheat, garlic, chicory root and artichokes.