Gut health is an immensely important and popular topic that is also extraordinarily complex for the simple reason that every gut is unique.
Each and every one of us respond to different foods in different ways, which is why it is so extraordinarily challenging ( if not impossible) to provide generic guidance on the foods that any given individual gut may benefit from.
With that being said, I came up with today’s list while keeping in mind some core concepts of gut health as well as some of the more common issues that people living with IBS tend to deal with including potential sensitivities to high FODMAP foods and excessive insoluble fibre intake.
My list today includes five gut-healthy foods ( & a few honourable mentions) that may not traditionally be known for their digestive benefits, but that actually have a whole lot to offer your gut.
If you are living with IBS or experiencing less than optimal digestive health, you may want to consider giving these foods a bigger shot in your diet.
The Best Fruit For Gut Health
Bananas : Already arguably one of my favourite fruits owing to the convenience and affordability, bananas also happen to be arguably the best fruit for the health of your gut.
So why are they so great? First and foremost, they are FODMAP friendly ( when fully yellow & unspotted) and can be enjoyed by anyone with IBS adhering to a low FODMAP diet.
Bananas also contain a modest amount of inulin, which is a prebiotic compound that essentially helps to feed and foster the growth of the healthy bacteria in your gut.
They also contain soluble fibre, which slows down the movement of food through our digestive tract and absorbs water in the colon. Soluble fibre may help to relieve both diarrea and constipation, especially in individuals who may be sensitive to insoluble fibre ( which tends to speed up the movement of food through the digestive tract).
Honourable Mention: Oranges – which happen to be both low FODMAP and high in soluble fibre.
Best Protein For Gut Health
Tempeh: Think of Tempeh as tofu’s fermented cousin that happens to be rich in probiotics ( healthy bacteria that help support your gut health and may improve symptoms in those living with IBS)
Tempeh is one of the rare probiotic rich foods that also happens to be lower in FODMAPs, making it an awesome choice for this list.
For those that avoid soy because they think it’s bad for them, be sure to read this article.
Best “Healthy Fat” For Gut Health
Ground Flax Seed: Ground flax is already a known quantity in the health scene due to it being one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but it also happens to be an exceptional food for the health of your gut as well.
As with bananas mentioned previously, flax seeds contain soluble & prebiotic fibre which combine to great effect when it comes to the health of your digestive system.
Best Whole Grain For Gut Health
Oatmeal ( especially Steel Cut!): The ultimate breakfast food just got better. If you have IBS and follow a low FODMAP diet, you may want to start at a 1/2 cup serving to see how you respond to it.
Like bananas and flaxseeds, oats are a good source of prebiotic and soluble fibres.
Honourable mentions: If oats don’t sit well with you, Quinoa is a great FODMAP friendly source of soluble fibre.
Best Vegetable(s) For Gut Health
For this category, I looked for the vegetables that were both low FODMAP and very high in soluble fibre.
My selections? Cooked Collard Greens, Cooked Carrots & Sweet Potatoes.
Probiotic rich cabbage-based products like sauerkraut and kimchi, which may be great selections for some people, don’t make the cut today as they are not suitable selections for those on a low FODMAP diet.
There you have it folks! My top 5 unconventional choices for a healthier gut.
Keep in mind that this list was meant to be suitable for a WIDE range of people including those with living with IBS on a low FODMAP diet.
There are many other healthy foods out there that are perfectly suitable for you, especially if you are not living with IBS, but I have tried to keep the needs of as many people as possible in mind when coming up with this list.
If you know yourself to respond negatively to any of the foods listed here today, it goes without saying that those foods are not particularly conducive to YOUR gut health.
Other than that, I truly hope today’s article will help a few people make better food selections.
Having lived with them myself in the past, I know how much of a struggle digestive health issues can be.
Until next time,
Andy De Santis RD MPH