“The road to health is paved with good intestines!” ― Sherry A. Rogers
Each one of us has probably faced digestive issues at some point. From bloating to food poisoning, and from heartburn to intestinal ulcers, gut health problems spoil your day and can leave you bedridden.
Diet plays a crucial role in every aspect of your wellbeing, not to mention your guts and digestion.
This article reveals the foods good for intestines and goes into the nitty-gritty of gut health nutrition. It shows you how to prevent—and even cure—unpleasant digestive disorders and make your guts happy.
“Double F” for Perfect Gut Health
Countless dietary factors influence your gut health, but the following two make a foundation of healthy intestines:
Fermented foods and fiber-rich foods (The “Double F”).
Let’s take a closer look at how these foods do their job and list some great examples from each group.
Probiotics are all the rage! These micro-fellows are among the hottest health topics for a good reason.
If you’ve been wondering why gut health is so important, one part of the answer lies in your probiotic bacteria.
With so many essential roles in our body, good digestion is just the tip of the iceberg of probiotics’ health benefits. Immunity, nutrient absorption, mood control, adaptation… you name it.
Friendly bacteria support every bit of your physical and mental health.
Scientists often refer to gut bacteria as our “second brain”; that tells you enough about the complex roles they play in your body.
Fermented foods are our main source of probiotic bacteria. Different beneficial strains—mostly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium—form naturally during fermentation, travel through your guts, and colonize your large intestine.
The following fermented foods should be on your daily menu to ensure effortless digestion and overall health:
1) Fermented Vegetables
Lacto-fermented cabbage bursting with vitamin C and probiotics. By the way, you should now throw away the brine—use it to ferment other vegetables or drink some of it for the additional probiotic boost.
TIP: It’s a famous folk remedy for a hangover.
A spicy, Korean version of sauerkraut with onions, garlic, ginger, and other spices. This study confirms that kimchi benefits your immunity, cognition, skin health, and more.
– Other fermented vegetables: pickles, carrots, beets, green beans, olives, etc.
Here’s how to ferment vegetables.
NOTE: The process can require a decent amount of salt (or spicy herbs/peppers), and these foods should be eaten in moderation. Stay focused on fresh veggies.
2) Fermented Soy Products
Asian folks have been consuming fermented soy products for centuries, praised for their nutritional value and probiotic content. The most important foods include:
Rich in protein, zinc, and other essential nutrients, this fermented food is a great meat substitute. Drawback: a part of probiotics is lost during the preparation (when baking or frying)
You can use this fermented soy paste to make soups, salad dressings, mustard, and much more. This study shows that miso could prevent different types of tumor.
NOTE: A great deal of conventionally-grown soy is GMO and could do you more harm than good. Make sure to choose certified non-GMO and organic products. People with thyroid issues may want to avoid soy, although this study found no significant effects.
3) Cultured Dairy and Non-dairy Products
Yogurt and kefir are widely consumed dairy products rich in probiotics. To get the most out of their health benefits, choose organic, pasture- or grass-fed products with labeled probiotic content.
You may want to skip dairy if your body doesn’t tolerate lactose and/or dairy protein
(some people find goat’s milk much more digestible).
Fortunately, you can choose from a variety of cultured plant-based products. Coconut kefir anyone?
Kombucha is another plant-based fermented beverage loaded with beneficial bacteria, vitamins, and other nutrients. This fermented black tea drink makes a perfect pick-me-up that takes care of your gut, too.
Did you know? Kefir and kombucha also contain
yeast cultures but don’t be scared! Like bacteria, certain types of yeast are beneficial, and they contribute to your healthy gut.
4) Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
You don’t want to skip this amazing fermented condiment. It delivers healthy probiotics, speeds up your metabolism, and helps you produce enough acid for optimal digestion.
The lack of stomach acid can cause a range of health issues—from indigestion to malnutrition. With ACV, every salad can become a gut-healing meal.
Probiotic bacteria ensure flawless gut health, and they help conduct other vital functions in your body. Fermented foods are good for intestines due to their natural probiotic content.
Moreover, fermentation enhances the nutritional value, creates unique compounds, and lets you store your favorite foods much longer.
Eating a variety of fermented foods will enrich your gut with different probiotic strains, keeping it healthy.
The second “F” stands for fiber—your intestinal housecleaner. It passes through your bowels undigested and cleanses all the toxic waste.
In other words, fiber makes you poop.
The lack of fiber in your diet can lead to constipation and other digestive issues. Diverticulitis (a type of inflammation in your intestines) is becoming one of the major gut diseases worldwide.
This study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, found that a diet rich in insoluble fiber cuts your risk of diverticulosis by whopping 40%.
All unprocessed plant foods contain lots of fiber and help cleanse your intestines. Here’s a list of fiber-rich foods good for intestines you should consume on a daily basis:
1. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
All fruits are rich in soluble fiber and beneficial for your gut health. Bananas contain plenty of magnesium and potassium that work against gut inflammation; root vegetables and tubers are loaded with fiber; apples contain gut-healing pectin.
Focus on fresh fruits and veggies because cooking changes the structure of their fiber.
BONUS: Fermented vegetables are your “double F” for gut health in one food. If you haven’t been eating them—start today!
The Potato Diet
There is an interesting (and extreme) weight loss diet that focuses on eating only potatoes. By eating only potatoes you get a lot of fiber, but actually, when following the cooking guidelines the potatoes also contain a lot of resistant starch which similar to fiber is also good for the gut.
After a few celebrities successfully lost a lot of weight on this diet it became very popular. You can read first-hand experience with the 3-day potato diet here.
2. Whole Grains
Unlike refined grains, which are stripped of nutrients and cause sugar spikes, whole grains contain plenty of fiber and other amazing nutrients.
They provide a steady supply of energy and improve your gut motility which is the term given the stretching and contraction of the muscles in the intestines.
Grain bran is extremely fibrous; you can even find it as a separate food or a fiber supplement.
Did you know? Oats contain a special type of immune-stimulating fiber called beta-glucan.
TIP: Soak, sprout, and ferment grains to neutralize phytates, which may cause digestive issues in sensitive people.
Fermented grains are another “double F” source that boosts your gut health.
All seeds are rich in fiber, but flaxseed deserves a special mention here. Why?
- Water-soluble fiber stimulates bowel movements and cleans the intestines
- Omega-3 fatty acids fight gut inflammation
- Lignans deliver anticancer and antioxidant effects
- Amino-acids from protein heal the gut lining
TIP: Your body can’t digest whole flaxseed, so make sure you use ground. Even better—ground them on your own before a meal because they quickly go rancid.
Besides its gut-cleaning properties, dietary fiber feeds your probiotics and maintains a healthy microflora.
The most common types of prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, and resistant starch.
The following foods abound with prebiotics:
- chicory root
- Jerusalem artichoke
- dandelion greens and root
- whole grains
I hear you saying: “No way I’m gonna chew on chicory and dandelion roots!”…
It is the same here. But you can find delicious coffee substitutes with roasted chicory roots, dandelion roots, and whole grains—three great prebiotic sources.
These kinds of drinks offer an amazing way to boost your gut health and cut back on coffee all at once.
Dietary fiber is vital for your gut health. Fiber-rich foods are good for intestines because they cleanse the toxic waste and feed your probiotic bacteria.
All unrefined plant foods contain plenty of fiber, and they help you maintain optimal gut health.
Other Foods Good for Intestines
This age-old grandma’s dish contains L-glutamine and other amino acids that help heal the gut lining.
That’s why bone broth can ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut, and other intestinal disorders. It’s also rich in collagen, the main structural protein that builds gut connective tissue.
Herbs and Spices
“Wait, aren’t spicy foods supposed to irritate my stomach and intestines?”
Well, loads of chili and salt probably would. But moderate amounts of healthy spices—like turmeric, ginger, and garlic—will combat gut inflammation and bad bacteria, while stimulating your digestion.
A quick reminder: garlic and onions also contain prebiotic fiber.
Many herbs also help you digest food and shield your gut health. Some great examples include:
- lemon balm
You can add them to cooking and make your meals gut-friendly or prepare herbal teas (infusions or tisanes, to be more precise).
If you make these listed foods a part of your daily menu, they will chase off most digestive issues.
But, in case the situation calls for a quick fix, many herbs and spices also act as a digestive first aid. They can come in handy and ease your troubles, like bloating, constipation, or acid reflux.
Gut health means much more than good digestion and healthy intestines. It builds the cornerstone of your immunity, metabolism, and the entire wellbeing.
Do your body a favor: eat a variety of fermented and fiber-rich (“double F”) foods. They will ensure the optimal gut health and all other health perks will follow.
Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite food to improve digestion? Did I skip an item worth mentioning? Would you like to ask or share anything? All comments are more than welcome!