Good Gut Health & Foods
Today we are bombarded with advice on what diet you should follow, what foods are ‘bad’, and an abundance on ‘gut health’. This can certainly be confusing, but you really can help your gut be healthy with the right food choices, and it does not have to be confusing!
So, what are the right food choices? Your digestive system needs diversity – macronutrients are important: protein, carbs and fat. Yes, this means you should not cut out an entire food group, so beware of the fad diets that do this. Micronutrients are as important: vitamins and minerals.
Having a healthy digestive system is a critical factor in health and wellness, and the reverse is also true. The father of medicine, Hippocrates, said it well, ‘All disease begins in the gut’. So, here are some ideas to get on the right path to good gut health:
- Remove the foods that aren’t helping: processed foods, fast foods, junk foods as these food categories typically have lost many nutrients in preparations. Some processed foods include:
- Deli meat, bacon and hot dogs
- Refined grains, like white bread instead of whole grain bread
- Convenience meals, which are usually high in sodium, low in vegetables
- Chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches, fried chicken wings
- French fries, onion rings
- Hamburgers, cheeseburgers
- Tacos, burritos, nachos
- Most pizzas
Some junk food items include
- Potato chips, corn chips, flavored snack chips
- Cookies, cakes, pies
- Donuts, candy, candy bars
- Sodas and other sugary drinks
- Limit how much salt and sugar in your diet. Be sure to check the label! Most processed foods, fast foods, and junk foods have high sodium and/or sugar. Some foods with hidden sodium and sugar include even the ‘healthy’ kind
- Some cereals
- Some yogurts
- Some rolls, bagels and breads
- Some pre-made soups, broths, and bouillons
Remember that your gut is foundational for your overall health and well-being. Think of it like the importance of a strong foundation when building a house. Building a healthy gut can make all the difference!
Make sure to eat lean or plant-based proteins, with a limit on red meat. Also, eat foods with good fats, like olive oil and salmon and walnuts and avocados. Don’t forget to include carbohydrates with focus on foods rich in fiber, like whole grains and diverse fruits and vegetables. With a diverse diet that is nutrient-dense, you will also be getting essential vitamins and minerals. While it may seem daunting, it is easier than you think!
Recently, the Mediterranean Diet won ‘The Healthiest Diet of 2021’ by US News and World Report. If you have difficulty in implementing healthy eating, this might be a great way to get started. Of course, be sure to consult your doctor or dietitian if you have persistent gastrointestinal symptoms.