Get your veggies in, but not just any of them. Definitely make sure these 7 best vegetables for gut health are on your daily menu (or weekly!)
There are many true words that have been spoken over the millennia, but it’s insane how accurate the phrase “You are what you eat” is. Why? Well, I’ll tell you. The things we eat, break down in our GI tract to build the bodies that we experience life in. That’s why, you need to eat good food. Food with nutrients in it.
Because, not only do our cells need food, but the bacteria buzzing in our gut need some as well in order to reproduce. If you want to feed the good bacteria that make you feel great, eat prebiotic foods like vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.
If you say, “I want to feed the bad bacteria, because I’m a rebel without a cause” – then eat sugar, fatty meat, no fiber carbs and cheese. That will be a fun experience.
Now, once you come back to your senses, make sure to enjoy these amazing vegetables for gut health on a regular basis!
Why Is Gut Health So Important?
Not surprising, but gut health is responsible for a large part of your overall health. Let’s take inflammation for example – an inflamed gut is a dangerous thing. It can lead to many different problems, one of them being bone porosity issues. (source)
Your bone metabolism suffers, ultimately leading to osteoporosis in severe cases.
Another problem caused by gut issues is that it directly affects certain aspects of your body – for example, the permeability of your skin cells, and how well your overall immune system works (what the first line of defense does and how the second one prepares). (source)
The surprising aspect of gut health is that it can also directly affect your brain function. That might sound crazy but is actually entirely true. Your mood changes based on how healthy the microbiome in your GI tract is. For example, depression and anxiety can both be caused by an unhappy gut. (source)
Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, and other neurodegenerative diseases are also risks that come along with poor gut health. (source)
So, What Affects Gut Health?
Well, more things than you might imagine, here are just a few:
- Not exercising enough
- Too much stress on the body with no outlet
- Taking too many antibiotics
- Eating an unhealthy diet, more specifically, one high in saturated fats
And How Can You Improve Your Gut Health?
Worry not, as there are plenty of things you can do and slowly implement into your everyday lifestyle that will have wonderful, positive effects on your gut microflora. Some of them are:
- Exercise. Kind of obvious, given the previous list, but repeating it will make sure you remember it! Physical activity has been proven to increase the number of ‘good’ bacteria in your intestines and keep them diverse. (source)
- Try to reduce stressful factors and situations. If possible, try to remove yourself from events that you know will stress you out and try to find ways to release those negative experiences regularly. Stress can change your gut’s permeability and result in ‘bad’ bacteria entering your blood without an issue (that’s leaky gut) causing an immune response (aka inflammation). (source)
- Avoid antibiotics and take pro- and prebiotics instead. It’s quite literally in their names – what their effect on the microorganisms in your body is. While antibiotics are necessary sometimes, don’t forget that they take down healthy bacteria along with harmful ones. Always take a course of probiotics after, as they are quite beneficial and help your gut flourish. (source)
- Improve your diet. This might be the most impactful change you can make. The food you eat is crucial for your gut’s condition. Focus on eating more dietary fiber and phenolics, along with the biotics mentioned in the previous tip. (source) All those combined work great in reducing the chances of inflammation and other issues. (source) Try to avoid sugars and fatty, processed foods.
7 Veggies That Will Leave Your Gut Happy And Healthy:
Now let’s get deeper into the diet! Here are some great truly life-changing vegetables for better gut health! Many people don’t eat them because they think they don’t taste good, but most of the time they’re just not aware of how to cook them best and what their benefits are. Never say no without trying!
Leeks act as a prebiotic, meaning they help the activity of good bacteria and also improve their numbers. (source)
Leeks can be added to a number of dishes – you can make moussaka with them, soups, you can eat them along with meat, fish or eggs.
This cruciferous vegetable is a great source of dietary fiber and glucosinolates, which are compounds that certain good bacteria in your gut love.
A study with 17 individuals divided the participants into two groups – the first consumed a diet low in fiber and vegetables, while the second prioritized those, and more specifically, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage or broccoli.
Unsurprisingly, the second group showed better results when it came to gut microflora. (source)
Broccoli is very much like cabbage’s cousin. And it’s just as beneficial too.
A very similar experiment was performed with broccoli which had the same goal – to observe the difference in microflora numbers and composition in people who ate broccoli and people who didn’t. (source)
And, same as the previous experiment, this one yielded pretty much the same results – the vegetable had improved the people’s gut microbiome.
Broccoli can be a great side dish to fish, tofu, rice, poultry or any red meat. You can add it to salads, soups, stir-fries, stews or curries. You can steam them, roast them, boil them – whatever you like best.
4. Sweet Potatoes
These delicious vegetables are a great choice if you want to keep your gut health in good shape but don’t know where to start. The dietary fiber they contain works wonders for your intestines. (source)
Sweet potatoes can be utilized in any way possible – make some soup, mash them, cook them alongside some chicken or turkey and you’ll have a lovely, beneficial meal.
5. Jerusalem Artichokes
While this veggie isn’t the most popular, it’s a great source of inulin, which in essence is a powerful prebiotic that can feed the good bacteria in your gut. (source)
You can enjoy Jerusalem artichokes raw in salads and you can also enjoy them cooked in rice or meat-based dishes.
Asparagus is another great addition to our short (yet mighty!) list of vegetables that greatly impact gut health.
Remember the inulin from the Jerusalem artichokes?
Well, not only is it found in asparagus too, but it’s contained there along with xylose, flavonoids and saponins, which are other amazing bioactive compounds that improve the numbers of beneficial gut bacteria. (source)
The leafy green is a wonderful source of dietary fiber and prebiotics. (source)
By consuming it, you’ll be protecting your gut from inflammation and increasing the different beneficial little guys that live in it.
Kale can be eaten in many different ways – be it in salads, smoothies, pasta dishes, sauteed on the side, in sauces and many more.
More About Health And The Gut
I hope you found a few new vegetables for gut health that you enjoy! For more on health and gut health, check these out:
- How To Heal Your Gut For Weight Loss, Clear Skin and Happier Brain
- 15 Gut Healthy Recipes To Restore Your Gut Microbiome
- 104 Healthy Habits To Get Fit In 90 Days
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 2 scallions, thinly chopped
- 3 tbsp butter or 2 tbsp oil
- salt and pepper
- Peel the sweet potato and lay flat. Cut lengthwise and then place onto the flat side.
- Cut in thinner half moons.
- Add to a pan or cooking pot and cover with water and some salt. Cover with a lid and boil for about 15-20 minutes at medium-high or until tender.
- Drain the water, add some butter or coconut/olive oil and mash the sweet potatoes with a masher or a fork. You can also use a hand blender.
- Add in more salt and pepper and stir in thinly chopped scallions.
- Serve as is with fish or chicken and some garlic yogurt sauce (1/2 cup yogurt + pinch of salt + 1 minced garlic clove!
Original recipe here.