“Let food be thy medicine.”—Hippocrates
Can gut loving superfoods do the job?
The foods we eat everyday are perhaps the most influential environmental factor on our gut microbiome—either for the best or for the worst.
“When we eat, we not only feed ourselves, but the trillions of gut bugs in our body.”
Even more, “improving your gut health” with food is NOT about a 30 day diet, or 7 day Master Cleanse.
Research overwhelmingly shows, eating for a healthy gut all about the long game—a lifestyle.
Sure short-term changes in dietary patterns may feel good for a little while, but it is our long-term dietary habits that affect our gut microbiome in a substantial manner. The good news? A “gut loving” diet does not mean chicken and broccoli for life (actually far from it).
Here’s a list of the top 20 “gut loving superfoods” to optimize your digestion.
Top Gut Loving Superfoods
Apple Cider Vinegar
Boosts digestion by increases the acidity of your stomach, which helps your body create more pepsin, the enzyme that breaks down protein, along with stimulate gastric juices.
Coconut Oil, Olive Oil & Other Healthy Fats
A balanced diet with proteins, carbs and fats makes a healthy gut microbiome. Fats help “push” your food through your digestive system by serving as a “slippery slope” to help the medicine go down. Fats are also essential for nutrient absorption and stimulating the production of bile acids and enzymes to break down your food. But not just any fats—moderate amounts of anti-inflammatory saturated fats, or medium chain fatty acids (coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter), monounsaturated fatty acids (olive oil, olives, avocado, nuts) and omega-3’s (fatty fish, flaxseed, chia, walnuts) appear to do the body good, compared to more inflammatory polyunsaturated fats (large amounts nuts, seeds, peanuts and meat) or trans fats (canola oil, packaged foods, Crisco, etc.)—associated with inflammation and pathogenic bacteria. Coconut oil in particular is a “super star” for its lauric acid properties—anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral for warding off yeast and pathogenic bacterial overgrowth. The best fatty acids to consume include:
- Avocado & Avocado Oil
- Coconut (Oil, Butter, Flakes)
- Grass-fed Butter
- Olive Oil & Olives
- Wild Caught Fatty Fish
Colorful Prebiotic Fibers
Foods with pre-biotics—the fibrous food that feeds healthy gut bacteria—act like the glue to help your probiotics stick in your gut and encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria. Note: If you feel bloated when you eat lots of starchy tubers or veggies, it may be a sign that something else is going on “under the hood,” such as bacterial overgrowth, dysbiosis or yeast overgrowth. A short term low FODMAP diet, GAPS or SCD (specific carbohydrate diet) approach may be worth a trial while you assess and test for your unique gut condition(s).
- Banana (green tipped)
- Carrots (cooked & cooled)
- Cassava (Yuca, Tapioca)
- Chicory Root
- Coconut Flour
- Cruciferous Veggies (only if tolerated, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
- Dandelion Greens/Root
- Onions & Garlic* (as tolerated)
- Plantains (green)
- Sweet Potatoes, Fingerling Potatoes & Yams (cook & cooled)
- Winter squash (butternut, acorn, spaghetti squash, kabocha, delicata, pumpkin)
Dark Leafy Greens
Greens contain a type of fiber known as insoluble fiber, and though that sounds like it would be difficult for your body to digest, it actually helps get your intestines working to push waste and toxins through your GI tract and out of the body. Green are popular gut loving superfoods.
Digestive Enzyme Foods
Foods that contain enzymes further assist in the breakdown of foods in your tummy.
- Fermented Foods
- Organic Pastured, Grass-fed Meats
- Raw Honey
- Sea Vegetables
Foods with probiotics—healthy gut bacteria.
- Fermented & Pickled Veggies
- Yogurt (coconut & grass-fed, full-fat, plain)
- Fermented Condiments (salsa, mayo, mustard, etc.)
Herbs & Herbal Tea
Herbs have natural superpowers and have been used for centuries as “medicine” for remedying everything from headaches and colds, to bloating and bacterial overgrowth. The best bets for digestive aids include:
- Chamomile (calms a nervous or inflamed stomach)
- Dandelion (bitter that stimulates bile production and liver health)
- Ginger (a great circulation enhancer for for an upset stomach; brings warmth throughout the whole body and prevents sluggish digestion)
- Licorice (a cooling herb used as a soothing repair and restore aid to protect mucous membranes of the GI tract)
- Marshmallow (soothes any inflammation along the GI tract)
- Peppermint (a cooling herb can help some digestive conditions, like indigestion and gas)
- Turmeric (an anti-inflammatory that helps to prevent gas and bloating as food is being digested)
Lemon & Lime
The citric acid in lemons and limes stimulate enzyme production, gastric juices and liver function. Lemons are also high in polyphenols (antioxidants) and a type of fiber called pectin. This is good for your gut bugs and helps to promote healthy gut bacteria balance and encourage growth of beneficial bacteria.
Meat Broth & Bone Broth
Contains collagen and glycine that help soothe and strengthen the tissue of your gut lining. Meat broth is best digested by those with inflammatory gut issues due to its low histamine content compared to bone broth.
10. Organ Meats
Contain highly bioavailable vitamins, minerals, fats, and amino acids that are essential for good digestion—particularly when you choose a specific organ meat that correlates with your own organ in your body. For instance, eating liver helps support your own liver’s detoxification pathways and function (essential for good digestion). Eating pancreas has a similar affect on your own pancreas—helping strengthen and encourage it to produce more pancreatic enzymes (essential for good digestion). You get the picture.
11. Wild Caught Fatty Fish & Pastured, Grass-fed Meats
Dietary amino acids are critical for gut health—from helping your gut absorb nutrients; to building and repairing gut tissue; and helping gut bacteria metabolize our food. Proteins also inhibit gene expression of certain diseases, boost immune function, and decrease gut stress and inflammation—from IBD, to leaky gut, IBS, gas and bloating. In fact, studies indicate that amino acid malnutrition is always related to intestinal inflammation. The purest form of essential amino acids are found in animal proteins. Sluggish digestion or poor appetite for proteins may indicate a stomach acid, zinc and/or enzyme deficiency.