Gut health is the biggest word in the health industry at the moment – and for good reason. Your gut’s main job is to absorb the necessary nutrients for you to function and flourish. Your gut holds trillions of bacteria that help process your food, produce nutrients, and fight disease. If it’s not working the way it should, it can impact your entire body.
Moreover, scientists have found that the gut is the body’s second brain and is responsible for producing up to 90 per cent of our serotonin (the feel-good hormone). With this in mind, it’s no wonder that the state of our gut directly influences our health and overall mood. Thankfully, there are plenty of gut-loving foods that will help your body to flourish and thrive.
Eating for gut health
What to enjoy:
1. Wholefoods: This is my non-negotiable for good gut health. Stick to good-quality protein, slow-releasing carbohydrates, healthy fats, veggies, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds. Ideally, you should be eating these foods every day.
2. A good-quality probiotic: I take a probiotic every morning before breakfast. It’s fantastic for promoting digestion and good gut bacteria.
3. Apple cider vinegar: This tonic works wonders for gut health as it stimulates hydrochloric acid, which assists with digestion. I like adding a teaspoon to a bottle of water or in a warm cup of water in the morning.
4. Prebiotic-rich foods: Think onions, garlic, dandelion greens, artichoke and bananas. These goods support the growth of good gut bacteria in the stomach.
5. Veggies and greens: These are key for good gut health. They’re loaded with fibre and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
6. Fibre-rich foods: This not only keeps your bowels moving, but also helps eliminate excess hormones. Great sources include flaxseeds and chia seeds
What to avoid:
1. Processed foods: Avoid processed, refined and packaged foods. This includes refined sugar, pre-packaged foods, soda, chewing gum and artificial sweeteners.
2. Excess caffeine: Consuming too much caffeine can cause a spike in cortisol, so I recommend having one coffee a day, after breakfast and before 10am.
3. Gluten: I encourage many of my clients to give up gluten for a trial period of two to four weeks. Try this and see how your body responds. In my experience, many people report feeling lighter without gluten; their gut functions better and their energy starts to increase.
4. Too much dairy: I’ve found that most people do better on a diet that’s lower in dairy. As a general guide, stick to organic sources of dairy such as unsweetened Greek yoghurt and goat’s cheese, which I’ve found to be easier on digestion. If you suspect you have a dairy intolerance, trial a two-week dairy-free diet and see how you feel.
Gut-healing recipe: JSHealth Gut Healing Elixir
I love making this as a big batch of tea to sip on throughout the day and evening. It’s so soothing and calming on the gut and aids with digestion after a big meal.
- 1 litre warm water
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1cm piece fresh ginger, grated
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp probiotic powder or glutamine powder
1. Place all ingredients into a small pot except for the probiotic or glutamine powder.
2. Bring to the boil, then turn off and cover with a lid.
3. Let it steep for about 10 minutes – the longer the leave it, the stronger it becomes.
4. Sip on throughout the day. If it gets cold, add a touch of boiling water to your cup. Enjoy!
Jessica Sepel is a clinical nutritionist, best-selling author and international health blogger. She is also the beloved voice behind JSHealth and @jshealth, advocating a balanced lifestyle through wholefoods. Her philosophy is focused around balance, rest and building a healthy relationship with food.
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