15 foods for good gut health
Confused about what to eat and what not to eat? With so much information online about healthy eating, it can be tricky to be sure about what’s best for a healthy gut. So here’s our guide to tasty foods that are also good for your insides.
Live yoghurt is an excellent source of so-called friendly bacteria, also known as probiotics. Look out for sugar-free, full-fat versions and add your own fruit for a tasty breakfast.
This probiotic yoghurt drink is made by fermenting milk and is packed with good bacteria. It originated in the mountainous region between Asia and Europe, as well as Russia and Central Asia. It also makes a great addition to smoothies and soups, or you can use it as a base for salad dressing (add lemon juice and seasoning).
Miso is made from fermented soya beans, plus barley or rice, and contains a range of goodies such as helpful bacteria and enzymes. A savoury paste used in dips, dressings and soup, it can also be used as a marinade for salmon or tofu. It’s a staple of Japanese cooking and suitable if you’re avoiding dairy.
This is finely chopped cabbage that has been fermented. This great source of probiotics, fibre and vitamins is best known as a German dish, but versions exist in Eastern and Central Europe. Choose a product that has not been pickled in vinegar, as that doesn’t have the same benefits. It’s delicious served with sausages.
This Korean speciality of fermented vegetables brings the benefits of probiotic bacteria along with vitamins and fibre. Use it as a lively side dish with meat, salad or eggs. It’s so popular that Koreans say “kimchi” in the same way that we say “cheese” when they have their photos taken.
This is very fashionable at the moment, but there’s a good reason for that. Made by fermenting the dough, it’s more digestible than regular bread and its energy releases slowly. It makes fantastic toast too.
These have good probiotic properties, which means they are a treat for your gut bacteria – high in fibre, and full of fatty acids and polyphenols. A handful of almonds makes an excellent snack when you’re feeling peckish.
Gut bacteria and microbes like a diet of fatty acids and polyphenols. These are found in olive oil. Studies have shown that it helps reduce gut inflammation. Use it for salad dressing or drizzle it over cooked vegetables.
We all know water is crucial for gut health, but what else can you drink? Kombucha is a fermented tea drink thought to have originated in Manchuria that is full of probiotic good bacteria. It has a sharp, vinegary taste and can be used as a refreshing drink on its own or mixed with fruit and spices. It also makes the base for great cocktails.
Gut bacteria need fibre to flourish, so the more fruit and vegetables you consume the better. Peas are full of soluble and insoluble fibre to help keep your system in balance. Add peas to stir-fries, soups or salads.
Much more than a festive staple, they contain the kinds of fibre that good bacteria like and sulphur compounds which help combat unhealthy bacteria such as H pylori. Stir-fry with garlic and bacon for a delicious side dish.
One of nature’s handiest and healthiest snacks, bananas are full of the kind of fibre that good bacteria enjoy. They also contain healthy minerals.
Live, runny, smelly French cheese will give your gut bacteria a boost – but eat it in moderation. Add it to salads or spread it on your sourdough.
Garlic, with its antibacterial and antifungal properties, can help keep “bad” gut bacteria under control and help balance yeast in the gut. Use it as a flavouring for savoury dishes.
Fresh ginger can help in the production of stomach acid and it stimulates the digestive system to keep food moving through the gut. Add fresh grated ginger to soups, stews, smoothies or stir-fries. Pour boiling water on grated ginger to make refreshing ginger tea.
NOTE: Altering your diet suddenly may cause changes in bowel habits or other symptoms.