What we eat significantly affects our gut health. Our gut is home to trillions of bacteria, both good and bad, but we don't tend to notice the bad until they over proliferate. Gut healthy foods positively impact our gut health by supporting the growth of good bacteria, while an unhealthy diet and stress can harm it. So, if we're eating an unhealthy diet, our gut flora will be out of whack and we'll start to see problems such as bloating, inflammation, skin issues, weight gain or loss, poor sleep, and more.
What's the key to helping ensure a healthy gut and can food improve your gut health? Keep reading to find out!
Let's talk probiotics
What are probiotics, you ask? According to the widely accepted scientific definition, probiotics are "live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host." (1) If we break it down in less scientific terms, probiotics are good bacteria that fight off harmful bacteria in the gut and help establish a healthy microbiome.
Some of the most common probiotic types include Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces boulardii (a type of yeast). Additionally, they can be present in many foods and supplements. Probiotics are found in many naturally fermented foods, including kefir, kombucha, yogurt, kimchi, etc.
And prebiotics? What are those?
There's no doubt that prebiotics have had a profound effect on gut health research. The scientific community defines a prebiotic as 'a nondigestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, thus improving host health.' (2) If we look at it in layman's terms, the definition of prebiotics is a little easier to digest (no pun intended)—prebiotics (such as those found in Inner Life!) simply act as fuel for the good bacteria that live in the gut and encourage that bacteria to multiply.
Often found in whole grains, nuts, seed, fruits and veggies, prebiotics are nondigestible—meaning human enzymes in our gut cannot break them down. The good bacteria in the colon ferment these undigested prebiotic fibers. Doing so converts them into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which can be used by our intestinal cells for energy. These short-chain fatty acids are also associated with many health benefits such as reducing inflammation in the gut, anti-cancer effects and immune system regulation. (3)
Inner Life! 's prebiotic drink mix provides 3.8g of the clinically-proven prebiotic fiber, Arabinoxylan, which makes meeting your daily prebiotic needs easy. Conveniently packaged in single-serve sticks, each serving of Inner Life! is made with only the best ingredients, meaning no artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, or gluten. Another major bonus is that it's gentle on the stomach and won't cause the bloating or belly discomfort associated with other prebiotic fibers.
Do plant-based diets improve gut health?
Did you know that people with a plant-based diet tend to have a better balance of good bacteria in their guts? Depending on how many plant or animal products you eat, your gut bacteria will differ substantially—animal foods encourage the growth of bacteria that feast on fat and can produce toxic by-products but plant-based foods promote fiber-munching bacteria that help us to digest them. (4)
We're not saying you have to follow a strict vegan diet to maintain good gut health—plant-based doesn't mean vegan and vegan doesn't necessarily equal healthy—instead, focusing on a plant-based diet that includes a variety of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit is the most beneficial for your gut health since it increases the diversity of your gut microbiota. (5)
As discussed in our prebiotic food blog post, many fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and enhancing overall gut health while also preventing the development of disease-causing bacteria. One small study found that a vegetarian diet led to reduced levels of disease-causing bacteria in obese people and reduced weight, inflammation and cholesterol levels. (6)
While an entirely plant-based diet may not be to everyone's liking, we know that adding prebiotic fibers, such as Inner Life!, to your daily routine will help provide the natural food to fuel the good bacteria in your gut. Combined with probiotics, prebiotics provide long-term sustainable nourishment to your gut.
Can certain foods heal your gut?
We've already discussed how what we eat, both good and bad, has a significant impact on our gut health but can food also heal your gut when it's in distress? Hear us out—the thought of using food to help repair your gut may make you uneasy. But there's good news: food is not the enemy. When you identify and eliminate the foods that are triggering your gut discomfort, you'll see that many foods can help make your gut more resilient over time.
To forge your journey to good gut health, it's important to choose foods that promote healing, fortify digestive health, and support the entire GI ecosystem. (7) Here 5 (of the many) foods that can help heal your gut:
- Bone Broth:
- Bone broth contains gelatin, collagen, minerals, glucosamine and other compounds that nourish the body and heal the lining of the gut. Additionally, adding bone broth to your diet is a great way to get more vitamins and minerals. (8)
- Fermented Foods:
- We've touched on fermented foods before so you probably already knew this would be in the lineup. Foods such as kombucha, kimchi, kefir and yogurt are rich in probiotics, which correct and support gut health.
- Many studies exhibit the impressive health benefits of raw garlic but did you know that it also contains prebiotics? Raw garlic is a great go-to when there's an imbalance of bacteria in the gut microbiome, since it kills off bad bacteria and feeds the good.
- For over 2,000 years, ginger has been used for medicinal purposes, including relieving nausea, preventing heartburn and alleviating gut discomfort. Ginger has also been known to help with IBS, as it relaxes the intestines during flare-ups. Not only does it ease these symptoms but it also protects against further damage to the intestinal tract. (9)
Getting your insides right and living life on your terms doesn't have to be hard! Start by making some adjustments to the foods you eat and incorporating Inner Life! Prebiotics into your daily routine. When you feel good and your health is in order, you can enjoy everything life has to offer.