“Ever felt uncomfortable? Some discomfort inside your own body? Not being able to detect an injury, illness, or trauma.” Maybe it’s coming from your gut. For the past 20 years, gut health has been the talk of the town. The topic has been Many communities of medical and wellness workers are engaged in learning more about the role of the gut in our health.
Research shows that an unhealthy gut can be traced to many daily difficulties. Such as an upset stomach, uneven sleep, irritable bowel, unintentional weight changes, auto-immune disorders, and more. The latest findings even suggest a strong link to mental health conditions, listing an unhealthy gut as a heavy contributor to conditions like anxiety and depression. This article will discuss gut health and highlight 10 such foods that can help us improve our gut health.
What is Gut Health?
In very basic terms, gut health mostly refers to the health of the intestines. Even though our gut is also responsible for our food pipe and stomach, there is something very important about the intestines. When it comes to digesting foods, two basic entities are at play here, our bodily cells and microbes like bacteria and fungi. When food passes through our system, it has to be digested by our body. But it has been found that our body is not ready to digest many nutrients, as they all require different mechanisms.
To deal with this, our bodies have trillions of bacteria and fungi to digest those nutrients. Keep in mind that these are the good creatures that majorly form our metabolism. Yes, these bacteria decide on weight loss and growth, and many other metabolic factors. Such bacteria, also called probiotics, can be found in a specific set of foods, mostly fermented ones.
Now for this entire microbiome created by these probiotics to survive and function, they require a specific set of nutrients. There are nutrients like fat and fiber that they need to be fed. If these bacteria do not get food properly, they will start to die. A healthy gut is required to contain a variety of good bacteria and improper nutrition kills the bacteria. Further killing this diversity which adversely affects the body.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
An unhealthy gut can bring several physical and mental difficulties. Here we list some of the most prominent difficulties that can sign towards an unhealthy gut,
- Food Insensitivity
- Irregular Stool
- Urge to skip Meals
- Skin imbalance
- Inconsistent sleeping patterns
- Mental imbalance and exhaustion
What are Probiotic and Prebiotic foods?
As we discussed earlier, probiotics are a specific group of good bacteria. These bacteria can be acquired through specific food items i.e. fermentation-based foods. Before the discovery of modern food preservation techniques, fermentation was considered very efficient for food preservation. This is done by distributing some of the good bacteria in the food, hoping for them to multiply over time.
Yogurt is a great example of food prepared through fermentation. Indian cuisine has many dishes from different regions prepared from fermented flour, for example, idli, dosa, and dhokla. There are also drinks like kanji and chaach which contain probiotic bacteria and are highly recommended for maintaining diversity in our intestinal microbiome.
Prebiotic foods are very easy to understand. They are basically foods that contain essential nutrients to prepare our intestines and encourage them to grow good bacteria. These nutrients include fiber which can be obtained from many fruits and vegetables, this fiber is good food for bacteria. In addition, fiber is also good for the intestines.
Another example could be fats which can be obtained from cereals, pulses, and millets. Consuming them encourages bacteria that consume fatty acids. These days, fast food that lacks a lot of fiber and fat decimates these bacteria’s population. This incident has led to a drastic reduction in diversity in our guts.
10 Gut Healthy Indian Foods
There are many convenient gut-healthy probiotic and prebiotic foods found in Indian homes, here are our 10 picks,
Fruits have always been known for their health benefits. The elders always taught us to have a diet rich in fruits. In addition to providing lots of essential vitamins, acids, and enzymes. Fruits are also found to be rich in prebiotic properties. Browsing through the aisle, we should definitely include fruits like watermelon, mango, and banana to have the right prebiotic profile for better gut health.
In today’s era, it is very much seen that the world is moving towards a more vegetarian diet. Vegetables have always offered a very diverse pool of nutrients. It is also generally seen that vegetables are very easy to digest and this is due to their fiber content. According to scientists, fiber has been considered very important for the health of the intestine. Vegetables like onions, garlic, and beans are rich in prebiotics and are essential for a balanced gut-healthy diet.
3. Grains, Pulses & Millets
Many people who stick to a diet rich in wheat flour and rice have admitted that they face problems related to their stomachs. To combat this, it is recommended to include several grains, pulses, and millets in your diet. To have a diverse set of fiber sources with diverse prebiotic profiles. Eating oats from time to time has always been a sign of a balanced diet.
Curd or Indian yogurt is one of the easiest sources of fermented food and good bacteria. It is prepared by adding some good bacteria to some milk. It can be made in any home and its health benefits are well known across the country. Curd is also eaten with parathas for better digestion and is used in famous dishes like Kadhi and Dahi Bhalla. It is also made into refreshing probiotic drinks like Lassi and Chaach, which are popularly consumed in summers.
5. Idli and Dosa
South India has always been famous for its probiotic cuisine. Many dishes like idli, dosa, sukapa, and appam are prepared from fermented flour. These dishes are also very much liked for breakfast in the north direction. Along with these dishes, people prefer to eat curries and chutneys like sambhar, including many vegetables at once. Which makes it very convenient for gut health.
Dhokla coming from western India is known as a sweet and salty dish. Prepared from a fermented solution of besan or gram flour which makes it rich in probiotics. Being easy to make, people widely prefer Dhokla for breakfast served with wonderful chutney.
Achaar is one of the most famous Indian spices. Mango, lemon, chilli, jackfruit, and many other fruits and vegetables are being prepared from a wide range. Achaar is prepared by coating these fruits and vegetables in several herbs and spices and fermenting them in oil in the sun. Most Indian food is incomplete without this spice because of its taste, easy accessibility, and now their probiotic benefits.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has always been known for its many health benefits. People are taking apple cider vinegar for their hair, skin, and mainly digestive health and this is because of its probiotic properties. Apple cider vinegar derives these features from its 2 stage fermentation methods. First, the apples are fermented in alcohol with yeast and then fermented in acetic acid to finish with the vinegar cleanse. It is a bit expensive but it has made its way into Indian homes.
9. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate has always been a poor dietary choice due to its excessive amount of added sugar. But in recent years people have been eating dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is believed to have digestive benefits due to the cocoa bean. It is now officially recommended by researchers as a prebiotic to maintain gut health.
Kanji is very much seen as a health drink in India. Being prepared by fermenting Beetroot in the sun, which makes it rich in probiotic properties. Kanji has long been drunk for its health benefits, mostly around the festival of Holi.
The Problem with Supplements
To deal with gut problems, people have been seen opting for synthetic prebiotic and probiotic supplements. Now, there are two types of these supplements available in the market, prescription-based supplements and over-the-counter supplements. Prescription-based supplements are favorable because they are always given under a doctor’s supervision.
But over-the-counter supplements have been seen to be problematic. You will be surprised to hear that the ingredients of these supplements need not be strictly regulated by the government. And this problem has always haunted people who understand this fact. Second, they are not administered under a doctor’s supervision. People take them under the general instructions on the back of the bottle, deterring people from opting for natural alternatives.
We can successfully conclude that instead of store buying artificial prebiotic and probiotic supplements buy. We can easily find such food items in our everyday kitchen which can provide us with essential elements to keep our stomach very healthy.
Along with this you also see BEST FOODS FOR HEALTHY AND GLOWING SKIN.