According to Hyperbiotics Website, 80% of the human immune system is in the gut. This means that we should all prioritize our stomach and digestive tract when adjusting our lifestyles to strengthen our immune systems. There are certain foods that tend to make stomachs unhappy, and others that have been proven to do wonders for our gut health.
We humans have a bad habit of choosing foods based on taste and convenience rather than how good they are for our health – a habit we should all concentrate on kicking. We’ve done our research on the arguments for and against certain foods, their links to gastrointestinal and immunity conditions, and how people can make better food choices. Find out what we learned in this article, and hopefully learn something yourself to help inform your future dietary choices!
Foods high in vitamins and nutrients are known to be great for the gut are generally separated into two categories: probiotics and prebiotics (discussed further below). These are the superfoods you should be eating to maintain good gut health and to care for your digestive system.
Prebiotic foods (high in fiber):
- Cereals (barley, rye, whole wheat)
As you can see, great prebiotic foods consist of a lot of fresh leafy greens, seasonal veg, and grains. Make sure your diet is full of whole wheat foods, fiber, fresh fruit, vegetables and salad to help keep your tummy happy!
Probiotic foods (fermented & cultured):
- Apple cider vinegar
Probiotic foods are fermented, cultured and pickled – they contain ‘good’ bacteria that help with digestive processes and aids the stomach in breaking down foods.
What Are Probiotics & Prebiotics?
A good way to understand prebiotics and probiotics is that the former helps the latter do its job in the stomach. A healthy stomach ‘microbiome’ is created through a balance of the two in the gut. Prebiotics are essentially plant fibers that nourish the good bacteria present in the stomach, while probiotics contain live bacteria that your stomach needs to function properly.
Besides eating the foods listed above, a highly convenient way to ensure you and your family are getting sufficient levels of both food groups is to take a daily supplement. Probiotics supplement and prebiotic capsules are available in tablet or powder form, from brands like Hyperbiotics, Bimuno, and Inulin. They are available affordably online or from health retailers.
Understanding Disorders of the Digestive System
Stomach, digestive, and bowel problems are all categorized under the umbrella of gastrointestinal disorders, and in mild forms, are incredibly common. However, they can be ignored or hidden by sufferers out of embarrassment, as they affect eating habits, bowel movements and sometimes even a person’s ability to go outside for fear of their gut playing up.
Here are some common gastrointestinal disorders and their symptoms – if you think you could be living with one of these, make a doctor’s appointment to discuss it swiftly.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): EverydayHealth reports that an estimated 10-15% of people suffer from IBS, a widespread condition that needs more awareness. It’s thought that as many as twice the number of women suffer than men. IBS, unfortunately, has no known cure, but controlling the disorder often involves eating a high-fiber diet. Symptoms are hard to identify because they vary significantly. Common signs include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain and abdominal discomfort.
- Diverticulitis: Small ‘pouches’ known as diverticula form in weak spots of the digestive system’s lining, mostly in the colon. When the pouches become inflamed, due to food becoming trapped and rotting, you may suffer fevers and pain. In severe cases, surgery is needed to remove the affected portion of the colon.
- Crohn’s Disease: Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease that is thought to be genetic or hereditary. Common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and weight loss. Treatment can range from immunosuppressants to surgery, to regular blood transfusions.