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Ever feel like you just need a reset button for your body? Life itself takes a toll on our bodies, especially our gut. Daily stressors, lack of sleep, and processed food are three big factors that influence our gut health — and we encounter these things daily!
An upset microbiome can manifest as unwanted symptoms like gas, bloating, constipation, and cramps.
There are roughly 100 trillion bacteria that call your digestive system home. It may seem like a tall order to change them, especially because the bacterial portion of your microbiome is mostly established at birth — but research shows that your microbiome can change for the better in just two to four days.
When you need to reboot your gut health, try adding these prebiotic- and probiotic-rich foods to your diet for a few days (and keep eating them to maintain the effects!)
Commonly consumed in miso soup (the pre-dinner soup you get at hibachi restaurants), miso is made from fermented soybeans, salt, and koji, a type of fungus.
Because it’s fermented, miso contains probiotics that help improve digestion by increasing the good bacteria and fungi in your gut. The probiotics in miso can also help reduce digestive issues and overcome digestive discomfort, particularly diarrhea.
Miso is also a great source of iron, calcium, potassium, B vitamins and protein. And because it’s made of soybeans, it’s a complete protein and contains all of the essential amino acids.
A few centuries back, during Medieval times, fennel was used to ward off evil spirits on Midsummer’s Eve. Now, science suggests it can ward off microbiome evils, too.
Fennel, a plant with long green stalks and pale bulbs, is slightly sweet-tasting with a subtle licorice flavor. Its high fiber content is great for promoting good gut bacteria and digestive regularity, but its antispasmodic effect is where it really stands out!
Fennel can help relax the smooth muscles in your digestive tract, which can reduce painful bloating, gas, and cramps.
Eastern medicine practitioners have used ginger for centuries as a key medicinal to improve digestion and prevent nausea. From a microbiome standpoint, this root plant is known for speeding up the digestion process. That is, it helps move food from your stomach to your small intestine more quickly, which can relieve digestive discomfort.
Additionally, the main bioactive compound in ginger is gingerol, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. If you’re feeling bloated or gassy, try drinking a warm ginger tea or adding ground ginger to a fruit and vegetable smoothie.
You probably know that fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickled vegetables are good for you. Kombucha, though not technically a food (but a bubbly drink), is a fermented tea made by adding particular strains of bacteria, sugar, and yeast to black or green tea.
The tea then undergoes fermentation for a week or more, which produces a slew of probiotic bacteria that can improve digestive health.
5. Bone broth
Bone broth is a long-cooking stock made from simmering beef or chicken bones to release their nutrients.
Bones themselves are rich in essential nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. When bones simmer, the collagen they contain turns into gelatin, and that gelatin contains the amino acids glutamine and glycine.
When you drink these aminos, they bind to fluid in your digestive tract and can help food pass through more quickly. Glutamine is thought to protect your intestinal wall and improve the digestive condition known as leaky gut, as well as other inflammatory bowel diseases.
Healthy gut, happy human
Research supports eating fermented foods, fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich foods, healthy fats, and plenty of herbs to increase probiotics in your diet, which can improve digestive health.
All of these foods play a role in gut health by helping food move through your system more easily or quickly, reducing uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating, and constipation.
The benefits don’t stick only to your gut, though: what you feed your gut microbiome also feeds your brain power, your energy levels, and even your ability to fend off illness!
Editor’s note: This post has been updated for relevancy. Its first publish date was July 21, 2019.