Research is clear: a healthy gut leads to better health overall–mind, body and soul. Gut health is directly related to the composition of your gut bacteria and affects your risk level for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other health issues. In fact, the brain and gut are so tightly wired together that scientists refer to it as the body’s “second brain.” It’s that important!
Gut bacteria, or microflora, need a stable environment in which to grow and flourish. The ideal pH in the colon is between 6.7 and 6.9. The colon needs to be slightly acidic to inhibit the growth of undesirable bacteria. Cultivating and keeping the “good gut bacteria” flourishing is paramount to living a full and vibrant life. The foods we eat drastically affect this delicate bacterial balance. Therefore, ensuring that our diets regularly contain foods that generate good gut bacteria is important.
The easiest way to ensure a healthy gut is by eating fruits high in fiber and that foster the proper intestinal balance.
Fruits that help improve gut bacteria and digestive health
Fiber is essential to stimulating the production process of good gut bacteria and is equally important to your overall digestive health and function. Not only are bananas rich in soluble fiber, they also contain a prebiotic compound (non-digestible fiber) that passes through the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and remains undigested since they cannot be fully broken down. Once they pass through the small intestine, they reach the colon where they’re fermented by the gut microflora. In short, bananas work to maintain harmony among microbes in the bacterial community.
Blueberries help to diversify our gut bacteria. They destroy harmful gut bacteria and also happen to yield one of the best fiber-per-calorie ratios on the planet. Since most berries are packed with tiny seeds, their fiber content is higher than most other fruits.
Kiwi is a fat-free, nutrient-dense source of energy. One cup of sliced kiwi contains 110 calories, no fat, two grams of protein, more fiber than a bowl of bran flakes, and half as much sugar as a cup of raw pineapple. The fiber in kiwi is also good for binding and removing toxins from the colon which assists in preventing colon cancer.
In addition to being a fiber-rich food, scientists have recently shown that important health benefits of apples may stem from their impact on bacteria in the digestive tract. In studies on laboratory animals, intake of apples is now known to significantly alter amounts of two bacteria (Clostridiales and Bacteriodes) in the large intestine. As a result of these bacterial changes, metabolism in the large intestine is also changed, which provides a multiplicity of health benefits.
Similar to blueberries, raspberries are chock-full of soluble fiber. The fiber and water content in raspberries help to prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. Adequate fiber promotes regularity which is crucial for the daily elimination of toxins through the bile and stool.
For nutritional reasons, we’re often advised by health experts to consume the skins of fruits. Recent studies have shown that the skin of pears contains at least three to four times as many phenolic phytonutrients as the flesh. These phytonutrients include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory flavonoids, and anti-cancer phytonutrients like cinnamic acids. It’s also important to note that when it comes to our gut health, pears are fiber-rich fruits and the pear’s skin has been shown to contain about half of the pear’s total dietary fiber. Even with its high fiber content, it is considered one of the easiest foods to digest.
The health of your gastrointestinal system is extremely important to your overall well-being. It is primarily responsible for the critical functions of the body’s digestive and immune systems. Beneficial bacteria in your digestive system have the capability of affecting your body’s vitamin and mineral absorbency, hormone regulation, digestion, vitamin production, immune response, and ability to eliminate toxins, not to mention greatly improving your overall mental health.