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Plant-Based Diet for Gut Health

by Krystal Crawford January 30, 2019

Plant-Based Diet for Gut Health

 

Focusing on our gut health has gained in popularity, and many advantages of adopting a plant-based diet for our microbiota has been well-researched over the past decade.  Our overall health is primarily affected by how healthy our gastrointestinal tract is, which is determined by how much beneficial bacteria we have in our bodies. Eating plant-based foods provides the essential nutrients needed for feeding beneficial bacteria to nourishing our gut health.

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

The plant-based diet focuses on proportionately incorporating more high-fiber plant-based foods into your diet. Eating a variety of different types of fiber is essential for overall health and proper digestion.

Resistant Starch: serve as food for our beneficial gut bacteria. Eat more beans, green bananas, oats, potatoes, and whole grains.

Insoluble fiber: supports regular bowel movements. Eat more fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains.

Soluble fiber: promotes healthy cholesterol. Eat more barley, beans, fruit, oats, nuts, and vegetables.

How Can Plant-Based Foods Benefit Gut Health?

Studies have shown that diets rich in phytochemicals can support a diverse and healthy gut microbiota, reducing intestinal and systemic inflammation to minimize disease risk associated with the colon.

Another great benefit of plant-based foods is the way it supports the immune system, connected mainly with the gut. Plant-based foods are rich in vitamin C that strengthens the immune system, along with vitamin A and E to build the gut lining for optimal protection against oxidative damage of cells. High-fiber content found in plants helps maintain a balanced gut microbiome and supports healthy bowel movements to be a benefit of those who struggle with irregular stools or constipation.

The Importance of Prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrate compounds that feed and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. They help modify gut microbiota to relieve digestive discomfort, support better immune response, reduce disease risk of the colon, and increase the body’s resistance to bacterial infection. Foods rich in prebiotics are asparagus, bananas, chicory root, dandelion, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, leeks, and onions.

Ways to Increase Plant-Based Foods in Your Diet

  • During your next meal, swap 60% meat for 60% beans.
  • Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables.
  • Enjoy nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruit as snacks.
  • Eat a variety of grains. Wheat is most common, but other grains to try are amaranth, quinoa, millet, rye, teff, and barley.

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Krystal Crawford
Krystal Crawford

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