by Jennifer Diffley
The word “gut” isn’t exactly the most pleasant word in the English language, and maybe that’s because nothing is more unpleasant than an unhappy gut. From constipation to irritable bowel syndrome to chronic acid reflux, your gut—also known as your gastrointestinal tract—seems to know exactly how to ruin your day.
You may exercise and manage your stress and get plenty of sleep, but if you aren’t paying attention to your gut health, your overall health will suffer. On the other hand, when your tummy is happy, you’ll process food better, feel more energetic, and even better ward off illnesses through a strengthened immune system.
Thankfully, tending to your gut’s needs isn’t expensive or complicated: In fact, here are a few foods that contribute to your GI health.
Listen to your grandmother and eat more prunes. These dried plums are a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber. The fiber combines with bile acids in your intestines and then forms a gel that’s passed.
You may have heard of probiotics, but how familiar are you with prebiotics? Most cultures naturally include prebiotic foods in their diets, but Americans have managed to eliminate most healthy foods from our plates and that includes vegetables like asparagus, artichokes, and leeks.
Prebiotics are the only foods that feed good bacteria in our guts, and that good bacteria plays a role in improved digestion, lowered stress response, and lower risk for weight gain.
Prebiotics and probiotics work together to maintain gut health; kefir happens to have both, which makes it synbiotic. Kefir is a type of yogurt, and it’s great at feeding lactobacillus, bacteria that helps with lactose intolerance and overall gut health.
In fact, check out the BBC’s study that showed how significantly people who drank kefir improved in overall gut health. There’s one catch, though: Store-bought kefir usually contains much lower amounts of probiotics and prebiotics, so save some cash and make your own.
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