There are hundreds of reasons why anyone must pay particular attention to gut health. This few meters long hollow structure is not just for digestion; it is much more.
It produces more than 90% of the neurotransmitter serotonin1, thus playing a central role in regulating mood. It has the highest number of neurons outside the brain; consequently, researchers now call it a second brain.
More importantly, trillions of good microbes live in the gut, called gut microbiota1. They produce vitamins, neurotransmitters, help boost immunity, brain health, and much more.
The reasons to take care you your gut health are many. Neglecting gut health would ultimately affect every aspect of health.
Some foods are good for health, and others are good for health and the gut. Foods rich in essential fatty acids, dietary fiber, and prebiotics are particularly good for gut health. Some of the foods that are abundant in these nutritional components are:
Of course, avocadoes are quite nutritious. They are rich in high-quality carbs, proteins, healthy fats, and other nutrients. These fruits are also low in sugars and do not cause bloating. They are excellent for gut, metabolic, heart, and brain health.
However, now studies show that consuming these fruits may significantly boost gut health. One of the clinical studies found that an avocado a day for 12 weeks could reduce bile concentration in the stool. It increased short-chained fatty acid production, thus boosting immunity. More importantly, those who ate avocadoes daily had much more diverse and healthier gut microbiota2.
Thus, there are some sound scientific reasons why dietitians are promoting avocados so much. It appears that its health benefits extend beyond its nutritional value.
Bananas are a good source of energy, as they are rich in slow-absorbing carbs. They are also abundant in dietary fiber. Bananas are among the best dietary source of potassium, thus helping keep your heart calm and bones strong.
However, bananas also contain dietary fiber that serves as prebiotics. They are also a good source of probiotics. They have fructooligosaccharides that help prevent irritable bowel syndrome.
A study in slightly overweight 34 women found that a banana a day can help reduce symptoms like bloating and increase the gut microbiota3.
Yogurt is nutritious and delicious. It is also easy to digest since it is among the fermented foods. Thus, those intolerant to lactose can still consume yogurt. Moreover, one can add fruits and berries to yogurt to boost its health benefits.
There is a reason why fermented foods are so good for gut health. They contain probiotics. Humans have consumed fermented milk produce for ages. It appears that the human gut depends on such foods to maintain the population of certain gut microbiota species like S. thermophilus and B. lactis4.
Some foods are good for the gut, even if consumed intermittently, and artichokes are among them. You do not need to consume them in large amounts or daily to enjoy their health benefits. Of course, they are nutritious, promote digestive health, and help prevent IBS.
Artichokes are now regarded as functional food, food items with many health benefits. They are especially rich in soluble dietary fiber called inulin, one of the best prebiotics. Inulin promotes good gut bacteria growth, reduces insulin resistance, and helps manage diabetes5.
These rhizomes add flavor to any food and even beverages. One must just consume it in small amounts to enjoy its health benefits. Ginger is good for improving gastrointestinal motility and preventing nausea.
However, if you consume ginger daily, it may also improve the diversity of gut microbiota. It is not just rich in dietary fiber but also in certain bioactive compounds that have a beneficial impact on gut health6.
Oats are a good source of healthy carbs. However, now studies show that they are particularly rich in soluble dietary fiber called beta-glucans.
Beta-glucans have multiple health benefits. It promotes the growth of beneficial gut microbiota and has an excellent effect on metabolic health. Beta-glucans help with weight loss, reduce bad cholesterol, and improve heart health. Thus, oats are not just good for gut health; they help prevent high cholesterol blood pressure and even help fight obesity7.
The bottom line
Although all foods have some nutritional value, some foods have higher nutritional value. Additionally, people need to understand the concept of functional food. Some foods not just provide nutrition but help improve health. They are rich in dietary fiber, probiotics, prebiotics, and bioactive compounds. Above is just an example of a few foods that are good for gut health and have numerous other health benefits.
- Appleton J. The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2018;17(4):28-32.
- Thompson SV, Bailey MA, Taylor AM, et al. Avocado Consumption Alters Gastrointestinal Bacteria Abundance and Microbial Metabolite Concentrations among Adults with Overweight or Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Nutr. 2021;151(4):753-762. doi:10.1093/jn/nxaa219
- Mitsou EK, Kougia E, Nomikos T, Yannakoulia M, Mountzouris KC, Kyriacou A. Effect of banana consumption on faecal microbiota: a randomised, controlled trial. Anaerobe. 2011;17(6):384-387. doi:10.1016/j.anaerobe.2011.03.018
- Le Roy CI, Kurilshikov A, Leeming ER, et al. Yoghurt consumption is associated with changes in the composition of the human gut microbiome and metabolome. BMC Microbiology. 2022;22(1):39. doi:10.1186/s12866-021-02364-2
- Shao T, Yu Q, Zhu T, et al. Inulin from Jerusalem artichoke tubers alleviates hyperglycaemia in high-fat-diet-induced diabetes mice through the intestinal microflora improvement. Br J Nutr. 2020;123(3):308-318. doi:10.1017/S0007114519002332
- Wang X, Zhang D, Jiang H, et al. Gut Microbiota Variation With Short-Term Intake of Ginger Juice on Human Health. Frontiers in Microbiology. 2021;11. Accessed July 13, 2023. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2020.576061
- El Khoury D, Cuda C, Luhovyy BL, Anderson GH. Beta Glucan: Health Benefits in Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome. J Nutr Metab. 2012;2012:851362. doi:10.1155/2012/851362