Here’s a short list (just one for each letter) to give you an idea of how everyday foods can impact your gut (& therefore your general health).
Apple Cider Vinegar:
– fermented apple juice, contains probiotics & acts as a digestive tonic. Many with heartburn / reflux find it useful taken before meals (avoid if you have oesophageal ulceration or damage).
– green bananas / banana flour are high in resistant starch (a type of prebiotic) which feeds your gut bugs. Ripe & green bananas may cause different reactions in IBS people (ripe = high FODMAPs, greener = lower).
– gastric stimulant, prebiotic polyphenols, appetite suppressant, sympathetic nervous system stimulant. Many use coffee as a laxative, others can’t drink it as it gives them the runs (stimulates the bowel). Many use it as an appetite suppressant. Use in moderation, some seem better off without, some seem better on it.
Dark chocolate / cacao:
– prebiotic, supports good bacteria. Get raw & the lowest sugar available.
– awesome nutritionally but high potential for allergy, don’t go overboard when your gut is out of whack.
– high natural sugar (feeds candida, watch FODMAPS as they can trigger bloating & IBS symptoms).
– sulphite preservative is generally used which can aggrevate IBS symptoms / cause other issues in sensitive people ie asthma, allergies, skin rashes – go organic.
Herbs & spices:
– many are digestive tonics (chamomile, peppermint, fennel, turmeric, ginger, pepper, cinnamon).
– less sugar & double the fibre of many more popular dried fruits. Ok not really common, but you try to think of gut influencing foods starting with I. (Other than ice-cream – which by the way is pretty much a gut nightmare).
– concentrated sugar (in fruit juice) not recommended, though lower sugar organic vegetable juices can be great when detoxing or when you need nutrients but also a rest for your gut (ie illness).
– great source of sulfoquinovose (SQ) to support your good gut bacteria. Also spinach & many other green leafies.
– rich source of prebiotic fibre.
– best eaten alone as they digest very quickly. Many with IBS don’t tolerate.
– small serves daily are awesome (studies show that nuts added to the Mediterranean diet make it even healthier).
– pesticides & chemicals can wreak havoc with your gut bugs, even if they don’t seem to impact you. Eat organic as much as you can.
– cooked & then cooled makes pasta a source of resistant starch (obviously avoid if sensitive to gluten).
– saponins in quinoa can make some sensitive people feel sick (& even vomit in severe cases), rinsing well will decrease levels, but some will just need to avoid.
– cooked & then cooled (then cooked again if you like – ie fried rice) is the way to make your rice less ‘fattening’. You will turn a lot of the carbohydrates into resistant starch, which means you can’t digest them (so they don’t end up as blood glucose or turned into fat), & they go to the bowel to support your gut microbes. Yay!!
– fermented cabbage, full of probiotics & a good natural digestive tonic (recommended to help with GERD / reflux, constipation & IBS / IBD).
– high in healthy polyphenols, but can inhibit absorption of some minerals ie iron if you drink with meals. Good for you, but better away from meals.
Umeboshi ‘plum’ or Japanese pickled apricots:
– proven to improve stomach function & decrease GERD symptoms in some people. An old Japanese gut remedy, though apparently originated in China.
– avoid foods that list ‘vegetable oil’ as an ingredient. You can almost guarantee it’s a cheap & nasty one – like canola or palm oil. Especially avoid ‘hydrogenated vegetable oil. These are gut enemies!
– essential for healthy digestion. Too little will leave you constipated. Use a filter (the chemicals added to town supply aren’t good for your gut bugs).
– a sweetener derived from Birch tree bark or corn (most common), often used in chewing gum & dental products. Good to help prevent tooth decay, but bad for our gut bugs (& still a sweetener, so not good for blood sugar metabolism / insulin resistance).
– quality yoghurt contains lactobacillus probiotics (look for brands that list them & give a number), or for highest levels make it yourself at home & add extra probiotics, & leave to ferment a little longer than normal.
– a herb / spice / seed mix of Middle Eastern or Lebanese origin. A nutritious way to add flavour to savoury food.
Shoot me an email if you’d like to know how a particular food (not listed above) might be effecting your gut.
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