Learn how you can relieve symptoms of leaky gut with dark chocolate and why this delectable treat is beneficial to your gut below.
In this article:
- How Leaky Gut Happens
- Dark Chocolate Benefits
- Your Gut Microbes Need Dark Chocolate
- How Prebiotics Benefit Your Body
- What Kind of Chocolate Is Good for Your Gut Health?
- How Often Should You Consume Dark Chocolate?
Dark Chocolate and Leaky Gut: Why They Go Well Together
What Is Leaky Gut? Also called increased intestinal permeability (IP), leaky gut is a condition that increases the gap in the intestinal walls’ lining. Through these gaps, fungi, bacteria, food particles, and waste products can directly enter the bloodstream.
How Leaky Gut Happens
Normally, waste and food particles aren’t able to pass through gaps in the intestinal wall. If a person suffers from leaky gut syndrome, fungal and bacterial imbalances and inflammation within the gut cause the expansion of the gaps.
This results in a leak, and toxic particles can enter the bloodstream.
One way you can help relieve the symptoms of a leaky gut is to consume foods that have a positive effect on your intestinal bacteria and can keep inflammation at bay. Today you’ll find out how you can fight off leaky gut with dark chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Benefits
For years, many researchers dedicated their studies to dark chocolate benefits. Some of them are:
- BMI decrease
- Heart health support
- Improvement of blood flow
- Increase in sensitivity to insulin
- Stress reduction
- Dark chocolate benefits for skin (like protection from sun damage)
Yet one of its most important benefits is its ability to provide nourishment to good gut bacteria. This may also be the reason why dark chocolate positively influences health.
Your Gut Microbes Need Dark Chocolate
Chocolate, in general, may not sound like the best food for your gut. Yet your gut microbes need dark chocolate to keep your body healthier, and you’ll find out why.
Your microbiome consists of trillions of microbes. Most of these are beneficial and good bacteria and fungi that reside in your digestive tract.
All of them work to produce the following benefits:
- Healthy metabolism
- Healthy weight management
- Immune system support
- Mood improvement
- Nutrient absorption
As they continuously work, they also require nourishment so they can grow and reproduce. Your good bacteria and fungi should always be the majority so bad bacteria and fungi won’t take over your body.
If your intestines suffer from microbe imbalance, you can experience the following conditions related to abnormal gut microbiomes:
- Cancer disease
- Chronic fatigue
- Irritable bowel
How Prebiotics Benefit Your Body
What Are Prebiotics? These are fiber compounds found in plant-based foods that aren’t digestible, and they go through the gastrointestinal tract’s upper part undigested. They enable beneficial bacteria to grow and occupy the large bowel through the nourishment they provide.
Prebiotics are foods that feed healthy bacteria and fungi and help them thrive within the GI tract. Consuming foods with high prebiotic fibers is essential to have a balanced microbiome.
Dark chocolate is actually a prebiotic as it contains fiber that goes through your digestive tract without undergoing digestion. It goes to the large intestine where the probiotics use them to increase their population and support your health overall.
In one study conducted, 22 volunteers who consumed cocoa with high doses of flavanol for four weeks had a significant increase in the probiotics Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. These probiotics prevent inflammation in the intestines and keep the gut healthy.
What’s more, another study found that beneficial bacteria can ferment dark chocolate fiber and turn them into short-chain fatty acids. This helps in fighting off damaging microbes and in reinforcing the barrier of the gut against harmful substances.
Cocoa is responsible for chocolate’s distinct taste. It’s dry and non-fat, and it’s prepared from Theobroma cacao tree’s seeds.
It also has flavonols, which are antioxidant molecules that are too large that the body isn’t able to absorb it on its own.
Researchers discovered that a human body’s good bacteria can ferment these antioxidants. This means they can reduce them into smaller compounds that are easy to absorb so they can enter the bloodstream.
These give effective support for the following bodily functions:
- Blood vessels
- Immune system
What Kind of Chocolate Is Good for Your Gut Health?
Just because you can help relieve leaky gut with dark chocolate doesn’t mean all other kinds of chocolate do the same. Remember that not all chocolates have a positive effect on your gut and health.
For instance, milk chocolate contains a lot of sugar, and it has low contents of antioxidants. These are more harmful than beneficial to your body.
Opt for raw cocoa powder and dark chocolate with high amounts of flavonols good for your gut. It’s best to go for varieties that fit this checklist:
- Has 70% cocoa at the very least
- With low sugar amount and doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners (chocolates sweetened using honey are better)
- Contains fat from coconut oil or cocoa butter (avoid vegetable and soybean oils as well as trans fats)
- Has an organic certification (stay away from chocolate with genetically modified organisms, or GMO)
- Has a certification for Fair Trade, which ensures sustainable production and good treatment of farmers
Below is an infographic of homemade dark chocolate-covered strawberries recipe that you can download, save, or share for reference:
How Often Should You Consume Dark Chocolate?
To enjoy dark chocolate’s benefits, you need to consistently include it in your diet. Experts say that you need 40 grams of dark chocolate each day for at least eight weeks.
Your body can take full advantage of this delectable treat’s benefits if you have enough good gut bacteria for the processing and fermentation of flavonols. Without them, you can’t make the most out of your dark chocolate consumption.
Always remember to consume dark chocolate moderately. Eat just enough to support your healthy bacteria, fight off inflammation, and keep your gut healthy.
You can also intake probiotic and prebiotic supplements to increase the beneficial microbes in your body.
As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” If you make an effort to have a nutritious diet, your body will thank you for it with good health.
Fight off leaky gut with dark chocolate and other foods that will help your intestinal bacteria and keep inflammation at bay. Always be conscious of your diet because, just as chocolate and leaky gut can affect each other, all the other foods you eat also have a great impact on your body and health.
Do you know other types of food that can positively impact your gut health? Share them with us in the comments section below!