Our intestines carry a lot of responsibility… And 80-90% of serotonin is actually manufactured in the gut.
Fatty foods, simple carbs, eating a lot of meat, stress, medication and not getting enough exercise can lead to gut issues developing.
With inflammation levels increasing in the body due to a bad diet or stress; inflammatory conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and celiac disease can develop.
Four out of ten adults experience functional intestinal disorders.
What does this mean?
The GI tract may appear normal under examination, yet doesn’t work properly. Conditions like IBS, nausea, gas, GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease ,and diarrhoea are all examples of a functional intestinal disorder.
Worse still is when STRUCTURAL intestinal disorders develop, leading to the bowel appearing and functioning abnormally; like in the case of constipation, haemorrhoids, fissures, colitis and cancer.
The good news with intestinal issues is that in most cases symptoms can be managed with a healthy lifestyle and diet, and in some cases, can be prevented.
When talking about gut health, we of course cannot by-pass the all-important probiotics. And in order for foods and supplements to be deemed effective they need to have a 106 or 107 colony forming unit per gram at the time of consumption.
Let’s look at 4 Foods that enhance probiotic activity, cleanse the intestinal tract, promotes healthy digestion, and reduces inflammation to prevent inflammatory disease developing.
In the last few years, kombucha has hit the nutrition market with a range of drinks and supplements. Is it really as good as they say?
As with most things, consume in moderation.
Depending on how kombucha is made, it can contain higher amounts of sugar than ideal, so carefully check the product to ensure there is no added sugar.
For the immune-compromised and pregnant women, it is advised to stay away from drinking kombucha due to the ‘live bacteria’ potentially getting into the blood.
However, for everyone else, this makes a refreshing brew to top up your prebiotic and probiotic activity; along with consuming prebiotic foods like apples, bananas, onions, and garlic to help the probiotics flourish in your gut.
Kombucha is a good source of polyphenols when made from green tea (and contains many of green teas benefits), it is a good source of antioxidants to encourage a healthy environment for cells, contains acetic acid known for its antibacterial properties, and due to its high content of polyphenols and antioxidants, it can assist with reducing the risk of bowel cancer.
Probiotics are one of the best ways to keep your gut healthy. So, taking a probiotic supplement may provide more benefits. However, along with a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds to encourage the absorption of probiotics, kombucha can lend a hand.
This little seed packs a pretty powerful nutritional punch. High in fibre, Omega-3, and is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and B vitamins.
Chia seeds are packed with a range of antioxidants for fighting free radical damage. Vital for not only reducing the risk of cancer, it can also reduce inflammation that leads to intestinal issues and diseases developing in the first place!
This unassuming little seed contains chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. Promoting heart and liver health, which of course, promotes the natural detoxification process, and subsequently aids in improving motility of bowel movements.
And perhaps most importantly, chia seeds act as a prebiotic to encourage good bacteria in the gut, and aid in naturally cleaning out your digestive system.
Add them to smoothies, muffins, salad dressings, baked goods, muesli, and mix with breadcrumbs.
I put 5 teaspoons in my power smoothie in the morning. 😋
What does fennel taste like? Uncooked fennel has a similar taste to liquorice, and is part of the carrot family. Though not a root vegetable as the stalks and leaves can also be eaten, and has a similar texture to celery.
This interesting vegetable may not be the first thing you reach for when wanting to improve bowel health. However, this underused vegetable boasts of some pretty impressive benefits. A great source of fibre, potassium, and folate. It may even improve symptoms of anaemia.
It is also a good source of manganese, an important mineral for enzyme activation and metabolism. Enzymes in the gut are vital for assisting in breaking down food particles, so they can either be absorbed or excreted.
Even the essential oil of this plant brings forth the potent anti-inflammatory antioxidant favs – chlorogenic acid, quercetin, and apigenin. And one of the active compounds anethole may even exhibit cancer-fighting properties, along with other compounds that may inhibit the growth of potential harmful bacteria.
Simmer in a soup, toss roasted fennel in a salad, include in a gratin, or go a little out-of-the-box with a sweet fennel panna cotta.
Not all yoghurt is created equally. Plain Greek yoghurt, or a probiotic yoghurt without added fruit and sugar is the best ones to go for. Greek yoghurt is a strained, fermented yoghurt resulting not only in a higher protein content, it is also a good source of probiotics.
Now, you can actually purchase probiotic yoghurt with live cultures, and as long as it is consumed quickly, you can reap some pretty good benefits.
Unfortunately, ‘live cultures’ do not last long, over time the number of live cultures diminish, creating debate whether there is enough CFU left to actually provide the probiotic content required.
However, there are other benefits to yoghurt that can help improve digestive health. A good source of vitamin B12, Riboflavin used for the lining of the digestive tract, pantothenic acid for converting food into energy, vitamin A, and the important antioxidant immune-boosting Selenium. With the powers of these nutrients combined, it is providing some pretty powerful anti-inflammatory protection.
Delicious adding to a smoothie, a dollop on a spicy curry, spoon over berries and muesli, or freeze it for frozen yoghurt.
What Foods Have You Tried?
Let me know in the comments your favourite recipes that include these foods.