How to Achieve Optimal Gut Health this Festive Season
Brain health, heart health, mental health – the list of bodily function we must put effort to keep functionally optimal, is endless. Of the many different “health’s” we are to maintain, one we take for granted is our gut health.
Though many understand the importance of eating clean, such lifestyle habits are often “results-driven”. Associated with things like weight loss and anti-aging, we lose focus on the fundamental importance of healthy eating. With one in ten Singaporeans suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and studies indicating dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factors as huge causal factors, we look into how you can achieve optimal gut health – especially during this holiday season, when we will be binging on unhealthy snacks.
Gut Bacteria, Health & Foods?
Never thought you’d see bacteria and health in the same sentence? Gut bacteria plays an important role in your overall health. Beyond supporting gastrointestinal health, the good microbes help with the synthesis of essential nutrients and vitamins and regulate the immune system. Research has also shown the potential power of the gut microbial population in mitigating risks of suffering from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.
What foods should you limit?
Firstly, fried food promotes the growth of harmful bacteria. Try to limit these foods!
Foods that are high FODMAP are known to cause gastrointestinal problems. Defined as Fermentable, Oligo-, Di- and Monosaccharides and Polyols, high FODMAP foods contain molecules that are poorly absorbed by the body. Some of these foods that are commonly consumed during the festive holidays include processed items like cookies, bread, foods high in corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, and condiments like jam.
Foods for Gut Health
The benefits of eating organic are aplenty. Likewise, superfoods have been shown to improve gut health! So, what are some of the superfoods you can incorporate into your diet to increase the presence of diverse and good bacteria?
1. Organic cacao powder & berries
Polyphenols are packed with potential health benefits. After metabolism and hydrolysation by intestinal enzymes or colonic microflora, these compounds get absorbed and later help reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol. Organic cacao powder and berries are some polyphenol-rich foods. Berries are also rich in vitamins, folate, pectin, and have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that promote healthy gut function.
When whipping up a dessert, this holiday, try replacing milk chocolate with organic cacao powder for an equally chocolatey flavour. Instead of using candied fruits, mix in fresh berries. If solely for the flavour, freeze-dried berry powders, like acai powder, will work too.
2. Organic chia seeds & Flaxseeds
High in soluble and insoluble fibre, flaxseeds and black chia seeds help promote gut mobility and bowel movements. The prebiotics that they contain act as fuel for the good bacteria in our gut, nourishing them so that they can optimally support all our bodily, especially intestinal, functions.
Instead of using eggs and butter that contain cholesterol, try using black chia seeds as a gluing agent to bind the batter of your desserts together. A quarter cup of chia “gel” can substitute one large egg – cut the calories and fat, and boost gut health!
3. Ginger powder
Ginger powder and slices have been an old-school solution for digestion issues. Great for digestion stimulation and circulation promotion, incorporating a dash of ginger powder into your daily diet can help stimulate stomach acid production for gastric emptying.
Like green tea, matcha is high in potent antioxidants, promoting bowel function and detox support. Instead of consuming sugar-laden coffee beverages, why not have a cup of matcha green tea? A natural probiotic, they also contain beneficial microbe colonies that increase healthy bacteria in your intestinal tract.
5. Yacon Root
Containing about 3.6g of fibre per kilogram, yacon root is great for gut health too. Rich in fructans, a prebiotic, it improves your gut microflora. Skip the salty chips and munch on some yacon root slices, or throw in a handful of organic sweet cacao nibs coated with yacon syrup into a smoothie for that prebiotic boost. Yacon root syrup also makes a great substitute for sweeteners like molasses, brown sugar, and maple sugar. Low in calories, naturally sweet, and rich in prebiotics, you can use this thick and sticky syrup as you would honey in any recipes.
Gut Healthy Recipes by Nature’s Superfoods
Not quite sure how to incorporate these amazing ingredients into your festive menu? Try out these recipes by Nature’s Superfoods!
- No-bake matcha protein balls
- Chia and ginger salad dressing
- Spiced fruit pudding bites
- Yacon cacao yoghurt bowl