Gut health continues to be a hot topic and as such, we have seen a huge increase in the number of ‘gut healing’ or ‘gut support’ products/supplements to hit store shelves. Whilst these products contain ingredients that encourage a healthy gut microbiome, supplementation is something that should be tailored to one’s individual needs to ensure the best possible outcome. There are, however, a few food/drink options that are often overlooked when it comes to nurturing your gut.
But first, why is gut health such a popular topic?
With modern day western lifestyles, our gut flora is frequently out of balance, creating a condition known as dysbiosis. What this means is that the protective (good) bacteria have been largely destroyed, allowing harmful, opportunistic pathogens a chance to become dominant. Our gut flora is impacted by a number of factors, from the way in which we are born, whether or not we are breastfed, surgeries, drugs, (especially antibiotics), stress and diet. It is important to remember that what we eat not only nourishes us but also feeds our gut bacteria and influences diversity and the ratio of microbes.
The state of our gut health impacts all other systems of the body, including our brain function/mood, sleep, weight, skin health and much more.
Here are 6 underrated foods & beverages that can have a profound impact on reestablishing a healthy and balanced gut flora.
1. Sauerkraut & Kimchi
Sauerkraut & Kimchi are very closely related.
Sauerkraut is made from just 2 ingredients: cabbage and salt. It may not sound too exciting but when fermented it delivers a hefty dose of probiotics and fibre. This supports the production of good bacteria in the gut. Similarly Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish but with the addition of some spices. It has all the same health benefits as Sauerkraut, just with a bit more flavour.
You can purchase Sauerkraut and Kimchi from your local health food store, or alternatively you can make it yourself. If you’re game, try this Sauerkraut recipes (courtesy Conersmith, Marrickville, Sydney).
Makes 4-5x 375ml jars
1 medium cabbage (approx. 4 kg)
2 tablespoons sea salt
1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon juniper berries
2. Probiotic Yoghurt (or Kefir)
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that support our digestive system. It is the helpful bacteria we need to stay healthy and keep our gut health in check. Taking probiotics is particularly important after the loss of good bacteria, for example, after a course of antibiotics. Yoghurt often contains effective strains of probiotics which not only promote a healthy digestive tract but in turn, can help to boost immunity and overall wellbeing. Better yet, try kefir yoghurt! Kefir is a potent source of probiotics that has been proven to support digestive health.
NOTE: We always recommend reading food labels to ensure you are purchasing a yoghurt product that contains probiotics and to ensure there is no added sugar. Sugar is not a friend to your gut!
3. Bone broth
Bone broth has been linked to a number of health benefits from a reduction in symptoms of joint pain and arthritis to liver detoxification, digestive health support and enhanced immune function. How? Bone broth contains anti-inflammatory amino acids which assist with digestion. Reducing inflammation can help to reduce symptoms linked to common gut-related conditions such as leaky gut and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). You can purchase bone broth from your local health food shop and select supermarkets. It can be consumed on its own, or used for cooking such as replacing stock in soups.
It is well known that the delicious fermented drink, kombucha, supports our gut health. This is because it is a great source of probiotics. Kombucha is loaded with beneficial bacteria we need to keep our gut happy.
Our Nexba kombucha range is made with 100% natural oolong tea leaves and contains 500 million live probiotics! We use a unique strain of probiotics that (unlike many) actually survive the journey from mouth to gut. Studies have demonstrated that 85% of the probiotics reach your stomach intact.
You can enjoy kombucha on it’s own or try it in one of our delicious kombucha mocktail recipes!
5. Broccoli (and all cruciferous veg)
We all know broccoli is good for us, but there is now new research to suggest it may be even healthier than we realised. As well as being packed with antioxidants and fibre (essential to gut health), studies have shown that broccoli can reduce inflammation. The combination of Vitamin K, B vitamins, omega 3 fats and high antioxidant content in broccoli (and all cruciferous vegetables for that matter) provides important support in modulating our inflammatory responses. More reason to load up on broc!
Seaweed is another fibre-rich food that is jam packed with nutrients. Studies have shown that high seaweed intake increases the ‘good’ bacteria in our gut. There are lots of ways we can increase our seaweed intake (beyond sushi)… You can add wakame/nori flakes to salads, Asian style soups, stir fries and much more. There are even lots of tasty seaweed snack products on the market nowadays.
By nurturing our gut with probiotic and nutrient rich foods, we, in turn, support our digestive system, enhance our bodies innate capacity to eliminate toxins and we are better able fight off infection and harmful bacteria.