For years I’ve watched the women in my life get caught in the trap of dieting and restriction as a path to health and beauty. So often the diet of the moment became too difficult to keep up with or restricting foods turned into a negative ping pong game of limiting and then cheating.
For my money, this system left the ladies around me feeling discouraged, less confident, and possibly no healthier than they were when they started.
Negative messaging has always seemed to permeate these fads: compelling women to fit a certain body type, to fit an ideal of body “purity”, to think of breaking diets as sinful, glutenous and self indulgent. There should always be a way for women to feel empowered about their health and dietary goals without having to follow diet trends that are an extension of a patriarchal system that attempts to control people through food.
This is why discoveries related to the gut microbiome have been such a game changer in the way we think about health. Instead of talking about limiting food as a path to health we can start thinking about what foods serve the systems in our bodies that are affected by our microbiome.
Research suggests that the gut microbiome influences:
AND the list goes on!
Here are some surprising foods that can improve your gut health.
Onions are truly underrated in this world. They are sweet and delectable when caramelized, snappy and tart when pickled, I get hungry just thinking about them. Not to mention they are an ingredient you can add to so many dishes: any stir fry, sandwich, sauce, omelette, salad...they hide in plain sight but they are a major player when it comes to gut health.
And for those of you that hate onions, though it hurts me to my soul, try a leek! Same awesome gut fuel, less of the oniony taste and smell.
Like all low sugar fruits, the raspberry is delicious, sweet, and great for your gut. Do yourself a huge favor and start adding or eating fruit for dessert, as a snack, in a morning granola... Raspberry clafoutis anyone!
I feel for all my gluten intolerant people out there. Luckily gluten-free whole grains like whole oats, buckwheat, and millet can give you the nutrients needed for a healthy microbiome.
For those who can consume all whole grains, give your gut the happy bacteria it needs to continue processing foods with gluten. Not only that, but studies have shown the happy gut bacteria you cultivate can be passed on to the next generations in your family! Experiment with new whole grains at home or try a new product made with them next time you're feeling curious.
I know what you're thinking, thank you beautiful chocolate for being healthy. Definitely a great option to have dark chocolate in your snack/dessert repertoire but next time you make a protein shake or a smoothie in the morning, try spicing it up by adding some cocoa, it’s delicious and nutritious :)
The flaxseed has the highest number of antioxidants with anticancer properties of any food available to humans. Literally mind blowing that we were never taught to eat this as part of our regular diet. Do your body an enormous favor and try a spoonful of this with water each day. It’s totally effortless and helps start your day on the right foot.
Of course there are foods that can have a negative effect on your gut: antibiotic treated animal products, sugar, artificial sweetener, caffeine, fatty red meats, fried food. Sadly, there is no magic wand to make fried chicken healthy.
What is amazing about the gut is that a more diverse diet is actually better for your gut health. So start thinking about what you can add to your grocery list, not remove! Your body is a temple and we hope this list helps you fill it with as many delicious wonderful foods as possible :)