Does your local greengrocer hold the key to a healthy gut

By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach

A healthy digestive system goes a long way in supporting your overall physical and mental health and well-being. To keep your digestive system healthy, you need to nourish the friendly bacteria that live in your gut and there are a couple of ways to do that. The first is to replenish your gut with a new batch of good bacteria and the second is to feed the existing bacteria with the type of food they prosper on.

Boosting your gut with a new batch of bacteria is a good idea particularly if you have been through the rigours of a recent colonoscopy, or if you have been on a repeated course of antibiotics. The nature of antibiotics is to kill off bad bacteria in the system which is critical when there is an infection however a downside to this can be that some of your healthy gut bacteria is destroyed in the process.

Fermented foods are known as probiotic foods and although they have been around for centuries you could be forgiven for thinking they were something new given the numerous emerging brands of kombucha, kimchi, and kefir (AKA 3 K foods) available in many stores. Before they became on trend, the best-known fermented foods included natural yoghurt, sauerkraut, and miso. These are still widely available and effective with a typically lower price tag than the more popular 3 K foods.

There is some controversy over how many good bugs are left in the mass-produced fermented products which is why I think you are much better off, physically, and financially, to make your own. Kimchi is something I make on a regular basis and serve it as a condiment to give a salty, sour boost of flavour which complements most savoury meals.

Once you have housed a wonderful colony of good bacteria in your gut you need to keep them alive and thriving which can be achieved by eating plenty of prebiotic foods.

The good news here is that your local greengrocer sells most of them and they don't break the bank to buy. High fibre, in particular foods which contain inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides (fructans , FOS) and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) are the best probiotic foods you can eat and these include:

Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, garlic, onion, leek, shallots, spring onion, asparagus, beetroot, fennel bulb, green peas, snow peas, sweetcorn, savoy cabbage

Custard apples, nectarines, white peaches, persimmon, tamarillo, watermelon, rambutan, grapefruit, pomegranate. Dried fruit (eg. dates, figs)

Chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans

Nuts and seeds
Cashews, pistachio nuts

Barley, rye bread, rye crackers, pasta, gnocchi, couscous, wheat bran, wheat bread, oats


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