A prudent step for not only good physical health but also good mental health is consuming foods for a happy gut. Studies tell us that the gut microbiome is also our “second brain.” Ninety-five percent of your body’s serotonin (maintains mood balance) and at least 75-80% of your immune system is located in your digestive tract. This means that the food you choose to put into your body is important in keeping your immune system supported and your mood balanced. Since 90% of your cells are microbial cells and your diet influences your microbes, it is prudent to make sure that we focus on eating foods that are gut-friendly. So when we talk about gut health, the old adage “you are what you eat” rings true.
Gut Bacteria and Serious Health Concerns
The good bacteria in your gut is meant to protect your body from unfriendly bacteria. But even so, sometimes things can go wrong. When there is a weakness in the gut-brain axis, the immune system can attack your body’s cells. This triggers your brain to believe your body is being attacked by unknown intruders when really it’s just some organ or tissue that would have otherwise been harmless, if your gut-brain axis was functioning properly. This effect is exhibited in autoimmune diseases such as celiac, lupus, and even diabetes.
A wealth of research exists linking gut microbiota imbalance to serious health concerns such as autoimmune and inflammatory disease. The health of your brain is a good example. A study from Sweden’s Lund University done in 2017 suggests that when a group of mice had intestinal bacteria from healthy mice transplanted into their guts, they developed fewer beta- amyloid plaques (peptides that accumulate in the brain and are crucially involved in Alzheimer’s disease) than those that had received a sample from a mouse with the disease.
Described in the June 17 issues of Annals of Gastroenterological Surgery, gut bacteria imbalance was found to play a role in the development of cancer, not just locally as with colorectal cancer but systemically as with esophageal cancers.
23 Best Foods For A Happy Gut
“Diet is one of the most powerful tools we have for changing the microbiota.”
Justin Sonneburg, biologist at Stanford University
An imbalance in your gut can be a hidden culprit for many health concerns such as fatigue, learning and behavioral issues in children, asthma, eczema and rosacea. Below are the 23 best foods for a happy gut. Include some of these foods every day for a happy gut.
- Fermented Vegetables
- Grass-fed Bone Broth
- Kefir and Coconut Kefir
- Red Cabbage
- Chia Seeds
- Aloe Vera
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Organic Salted Gherkin Pickles
- Organic Brine-Cured Olives
- Dandelion greens
- Red Beets
- Organic Oats
- Lemon Purified Water
- Organic Beans
Natural Remedies for Maintaining & Restoring a Happy Gut
Below are a few things you can do to maintain and restore a happy gut.
- Avoid processed foods.
- As much as possible, prepare your foods at home.
- Consume probiotic-rich foods.
- Eliminate refined sugar and white flour.
- Avoid unnecessary antibiotic use.
- Eliminate gluten.
- Consume healthy fats and healthy oils.
- Drink only purified water. Do not drink water packaged in plastic bottles.
- Consume raw nuts.
- Manage your stress.
- Remove as many toxins from your diet as possible.
- Perform an intestinal cleanse at the beginning of spring and fall.
- Perform a harmful organism cleanse two times per year.
- Rebalance your gut by taking a good probiotic every day.
Keeping your gut happy should be a major health priority in your overall health plan. In other words, the bacteria living in your gut have a big impact on the way you feel. The fact is, if you want a healthy gut you must understand that the foods you consume are important. Properly fermented foods definitely fall under the category of foods for a happy gut. Fermentation helps to preserve food and creates beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, and numerous strains of healthy probiotics. There are plenty of other foods (see list above) that will also provide you with a happy gut. Try to incorporate at least two of these foods every day and see if you don’t feel a difference in your gut and overall health.
References and Research
Kiefer D, Ali-Akbarian L (2004). “A brief evidence-based review of two gastrointestinal illnesses: irritable bowel and leaky gut syndromes”. Alternative Therapy Health Medicine 10 (3): 22–30.
Baba Y, Iwatsuki M, Yoshida N, Watanabe M, Baba H. Review of the gut microbiome and esophageal cancer: Pathogenesis and potential clinical implications. Ann Gastroenterol Surg. 2017;1:99–104.
Louis P, Hold GL, Flint HJ. The gut microbiota, bacterial metabolites and colorectal cancer. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2014;12:661–72.
Scheperjans, F. et al. Gut microbiota are related to Parkinson’s disease and clinical phenotype. Mov Disord, doi: 10.1002/mds.26069 (2014).
Gall A, Fero J, McCoy C, et al. Bacterial composition of the human upper gastrointestinal tract microbiome is dynamic and associated with genomic instability in a Barrett’s esophagus cohort. PLoS One. 2015;10:e0129055.
Collins, S. M. & Bercik, P. The relationship between intestinal microbiota and the central nervous system in normal gastrointestinal function and disease. Gastroenterology 136, 2003–2014, doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2009.01.075 (2009).
Bischoff SC. ‘Gut health’: a new objective in medicine? BMC Med. 2011;9:24.
Carasi P1, Racedo SM2, Jacquot C2, Romanin DE3, Serradell MA4, Urdaci MC2. Impact of kefir derived Lactobacillus kefiri on the mucosal immune response and gut microbiota. J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:361604. doi: 10.1155/2015/361604.
Szaefer H1, Krajka-Ku?niak V, Bartoszek A, Baer-Dubowska W. Modulation of carcinogen metabolizing cytochromes P450 in rat liver and kidney by cabbage and sauerkraut juices: comparison with the effects of indole-3-carbinol and phenethyl isothiocyanate. Phytother Res. 2012 Aug;26(8):1148-55. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3692.
Simopoulos, A. P. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 21 (6).