The old adage, “You are what you eat” couldn’t be more true when it comes to your gut health. It was tough to narrow this down to just five foods, but as a Holistic Nutritionist, these are some of the most common foods I recommend to my clients who want optimal gut health.
Collagen should be in your daily routine for so many reasons. In fact, it’s the most abundant protein in the body and quantities in our body start decreasing as early as our 20s. From a gut standpoint, research has shown that oral collagen can act like a prebiotic, preventing disturbances from the gut microbiome, or dysbiosis, which also reduces body wide inflammation.
Two of the star amino acids that are in collagen are glycine and glutamine, both of which help rebuild muscle, aiding in repairing leaky gut and IBS.
Not only is collagen good for your gut, but you’ll notice your hair, skin and nails thank you as well when you add it to your regular routine. My favourite collagen is Genuine Health’s new clean collagen. clean collagen is available in bovine from grass-fed cows and marine collagen from wild caught fish from the North Atlantic. If you’re not sure about which to choose, there’s no difference in efficacy or absorption between marine or bovine, so choose whichever you prefer!
The reason this sour food made the list is because it’s fermented. The fermentation process creates beneficial bacteria in the food. When it comes to your gut, the beneficial bacteria can reduce inflammation, increase nutrient absorption and even reduce or prevent symptoms of food allergies like lactose intolerance.
There are other fermented foods you can include if sauerkraut isn’t your thing, like kimchi and kefir. I also recommend including a daily probiotic in your routine as a way to increase the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc. Just one quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains almost a quarter of your daily recommended intake. When it comes to digestion, there is a connection between the amount of digestive enzymes present in the pancreas and zinc levels. Digestive enzymes are critical for the breakdown of what you eat, and poor digestion of food can cause inflammation in the gut. Other sources of zinc include red meat, oysters and cashews.
Salmon makes this list for its omega 3 fatty acid content. Many autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis can actually be linked back to inflammation in the gut. Omega 3s exert an anti-inflammatory effect, and have been shown to act as a prebiotic, modulating the gut environment. Furthermore, those with chronic intestinal disorders, like inflammatory bowel disease for example, tend to have lower levels of omega 3s.
You don’t need to consume salmon daily; two to three times a week is perfect. Supplementing with a fish oil is a great complement to salmon a couple of times a week for your fish oil intake.
Ground Flax Seeds
Flaxseed is a great source of fiber and when I’m talking about the gut, I certainly can’t forget fiber! The main benefits of flaxseed come when it’s freshly ground. Otherwise, it simply passes through your body mostly undigested. The good fats found in flaxseeds are also susceptible to damage from light, heat and air, so if you do grind it in advance, or purchase the pre-ground flaxseed, make sure to store it in the freezer.
The fiber in flaxseeds gets fermented in the gut and bulks up stools, creating more regular bowel movements. A nice little side benefit is that fiber will also keep you full for longer, helping regulate blood sugar and cravings!