If want to feel better and don’t know where to start, begin by healing your gut as the saying goes “When in doubt, begin in the gut”.
When your gut is out of balance and digestive system is weak, it is often the best to go back to basics by eating simple and restorative foods to accelerate healing. Below I provide some basic tips to consider when dealing with an unhappy gut:
- Have (warm) cooked/steamed/baked foods, they are easier to digest than raw and cold foods
- Eat frequently and in small amounts, it’s easier on your digestion than big portions at once
- Have proteins as they are needed to heal, include bone broths, vegetable broths, mushroom broths, soups and stews, well-cooked pastured meats, bone marrow, organic eggs, optionally high quality dairy (sheep, goat, coconut) and protein powder (green pea, hemp, whey)
- Have healthy fats to nourish and soothe your immune system, consider coconut oil, butter, ghee, olive oil, hemp seed, avocados, flax seed, coconut milk and coconut water. If you tolerate nuts and seeds you may eat them in small amounts, preferably soaked at first
- Have various (cooked) vegetables – at least half of what’s on your plate ought to be vegetables. Cabbage-family foods are high in glutamine, a healing nutrient that helps repair the gut
- Have preferably non-gluten containing grains such as quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet and rice. Soaked in water for few hours before cooking, it makes them easier to digest
- Have gentle fruits, such as ripe or cooked fruits
- Have enough liquids such as water, water with lemon, water with raw apple cider vinegar, mint tea, fennel tea, ginger tea, green tea, rooibos tea, broths (bone broths are rich in glutamine), or some fresh vegetable juice (carrot, ginger, beet, kale, parsley, cabbage or sauerkraut)
- Have herbs and spices such as salt, peper, basil, oregano, dill, fennel, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg. Try to avoid hot spices such as cayenne and chili
- Supplementation with licorice (in a form of deglycyrrhizinated licorice DGL), glutamine, or quercetin can quench inflammation and help gut healing
- Get unstressed – stress is a very common contributor to digestive complains
- If you feel like you overreact to almost all foods, go low on lectins. Check the shopping list of Dr. Gundry for foods low/high in lectins. Lectins can aggravate inflammation
If above strategies do not help or you think you need a more targeted approach, seek some professional help.
- Chronic stress
- Poor diet and low dietary fiber intake
- Low stomach hydrochloric acid
- Medications, prescribed and over the counter
- Alcohol, drugs and cigarette smoking
- Lack of exercise
- Environmental toxins, irritants, heavy metals
“P-foods” for good gut health
Your gut likes real foods but here I want to focus specifically on three gut healthful P’s: prebiotics, probiotics and polyphenols.
#1 Prebiotic rich foods = serve as food (dietary fiber) for beneficial microbes. Prebiotics are non-living, non-digestible by human ingredients (carbohydrates) that feed trillions of microbial mouths in your gut and helping them to bloom. They are microbiome superfoods that naturally occur in plant foods (vegetables, fruits, grains) such as chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, onion, leek, garlic, raw oats, banana, broccoli, carrots, or fruit skin. Dietary fiber aids digestion, bowel movement and assists the removal of toxins from the body.
#2 Probiotic rich foods = contain beneficial microbes such as bacteria or yeast. They are present in certain foods containing live cultures such as yoghurt, kefir, aged cheese, kombucha, kimichi, sauerkraut, and miso. Probiotic rich foods may support digestion and immunity.
#3 Polyphenol rich foods = polyphenols are plants’ powerful nutrients that to become active undergo diverse intestinal transformations thanks to the action of human digestive enzymes and microbial metabolism. They include flavonoids, tannins, chlorogenic acids, anthocyanidins. They have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic properties. Vegetables, fruits, herbs are rich in polyphenols: onion, apples, grapefruit, plums, broccoli, citrus fruits, tomatoes, green thee, cocoa, banana, berries, chickpeas, beans, soy, parsley, thyme, celery, walnuts, grapes, flaxseed, apricots, coffee seeds, and peaches.
If you want to know more how to create a healthy plate for you, for your gut and your gut microbes, check my blog on “How to create your healthy plate”. Keep in mind that everyone is different and some foods that are great for one person will not necessarily be healthful for the other person.