Foods for Digestive Health

Welcome back to my first post for 2017.

2017 is shaping up to be an fantastic year with increasing interest in digestive health and its role in our overall health. An increasing body of research is linking our digestive health to many other aspects of health including anxiety, depression, weight problems, heart health, inflammatory disorders such as ulcerative colitis, arthritis and diabetes. The effects of our digestive health are influenced through our gut microbiome - the variety of micro-organisims living in our digestive tract. They play a vital role in keeping our gut wall healthy, modulating our immune system and nervous system through the gut brain axis. So its not surprising that we are keen to learn more about the effects of food choices on our microbiome.

Is it time to check your gut health?

Are you regularly eating plant foods to support your microbiome and digestive health?:

  • Always choose wholegrain breads and cereals based on whole grains including wheat, oats, barley, mueslis, bran based breakfast cereals, wholemeal floour, pasta and brown rice
  • At least 2-3 times a week eat legumes or pulses including chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, kidney beans
  • At least 2 pieces of fruit per day including bananas, stone fruits, berries, watermelon, apples, pears, kiwi fruits
  • Plenty of salads and vegetables including potato, sweet potato, onion, garlic, mushrooms, eggplant, corn, cauliflower and broccoli
  • A daily handful of nuts
  • Resistant starch found in cooked and cooled potato, root vegetables, firm bananas, cashews, oats and barley
  • Fermented foods such as pickled vegetables (including sauerkraut, kimchi), yoghurt, kefir, natto, miso, tempeh

In contrast, a typical western style diet based on highly processed foods impairs gut health. So be sure to limit your intake of refined cereals, white breads, snack foods including biscuits, cakes, foods high in sugar, saturated fats, takeaway and fast foods and large meat portions.

The good news is improvements in the gut flora are seen after just 2-3 days. So you will start to feel better, with more energy and enthusiasm. For individualised advice always see an APD. If you suffer with IBS, a dietitian can give you specfic advice on how to maintain a good intake of prebiotics while managing your IBS symptoms on a low Fodmap diet.


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