The Gut-Healing Foods This Expert Always Keeps In Her Kitchen
Have you ever searched through your closet for what felt like forever knowing you have so many clothes but nothing to wear? Consider for a moment that your kitchen and pantry might be set up this way, too—lots of old boxes of crackers, jars of who-knows-what, and other mystery items that don't a meal make.
When your kitchen and pantry are stocked with good-for-your-gut options, you won't constantly have to weed through all the fluff to find the one thing that "fits"—all the good stuff will be at your fingertips.
Here are the staples I keep on hand so that healthy, gut-friendly foods are always within my reach:
Raw, fermented sauerkraut
Raw, fermented sauerkraut is one of the best natural sources of probiotics. Adding a few forkfuls to your plate at every meal can help rebalance your microbiome and even curb sugar cravings.
Recipes/uses: Add to salads or bowls, or use to top burgers or sandwiches.
Bone broth is full of collagen and gelatin, which help reduce inflammation in the gut and promote balance of the gut bacteria. Bone broth is also rich in protein and amino acids, which help you feel full and satisfied longer.
Recipes/uses: Drink a mug of broth for a nutrient-dense snack, use it as the base for any soup, or cook grains or veggies in broth for extra flavor and nutrition.
Our current diets tend to be so over-sweetened and over-salted that bitter is a welcome taste our bodies are craving. Plus bitter greens (like dandelion, mustard, escarole, arugula, and the tops of root veggies like beets, turnips, and radishes) are naturally detoxifying and cleansing for your gut.
Recipes/uses: Saute with olive oil and garlic to soften the bitter flavor, then serve alongside any protein for a healthy meal.
Plain, unsweetened yogurt is rich in gut-healing probiotics. Not everyone can do dairy, so it's great that there are coconut- and nut-based options today that still provide all the healthy bacteria your gut needs. Yogurt is also packed with protein. I find that when I eat a protein-rich breakfast, I'm full for longer and snack less throughout the day.
Recipes/uses: My favorite Power Parfait and this hormone-balancing Super Woman Bread. You can also use yogurt in place of sour cream in most recipes, or use for a creamy topping on soups and bowl meals!
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. Collagen helps strengthen the lining of your gut and is great for skin, hair, and nail health—it's the "glue" that helps hold our body together. Our body's collagen production slows down as we age, which is why it can be useful to supplement with outside sources.
Recipes/uses: You can get collagen from bone broth, buy a grass-fed powder, or take it in capsule form. I love collagen peptide powder because it's tasteless and easy to add into your diet: You can mix it into your morning beverage, blend it into a smoothie, or use it anywhere you'd use protein powder. Pescatarians might prefer marine collagen (from fish). If you prefer a vegetarian option, try silica.
Tempeh is a great form of plant-based protein—it's naturally fermented and, therefore, a great gut-friendly option. Not only is tempeh rich in protein, but it also contains niacin and riboflavin, which help boost your metabolism.
Recipes/uses: I love to simply sear tempeh in coconut oil and gluten-free soy sauce.
Root veggies are super grounding and calming for the gut—just think about how they grow in the dirt! For example, sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties, and beets are known to soothe indigestion. In addition, these veggies are full of fiber, which your gut bacteria feed on. Since most root veggies are naturally sweet, they also reduce cravings for sugar and processed carbs.
Recipes/uses: Roast up a big tray of root veggies to have on hand for dinners all week. You can also blend roasted root veggies into smoothies or soups for quick, easy, gut-healing meals.
Fermented drinks, like fermented foods, pack a powerful punch of gut-friendly probiotics and offer a unique variety of different strains. Many fermented drinks are naturally sweet and carbonated, making them healthier alternatives to soda or energy drinks.
Recipes/uses: I love having kombucha as a morning (or afternoon) pick-me-up! It's also great to bring to parties if you're looking to reduce or cut out alcohol.
Think of fennel as a highly nutritious, more digestible version of cabbage that can decrease bloating (rather than cause it). Snacking on fennel (like you would celery or carrots) is an easy way to add more veggies and crowd out junkier snacks.
Recipes/uses: Slice up raw fennel for a yummy snack, add to salads or wraps for crunch, or roast wedges in a little olive oil. Even if you're not a fan of raw fennel, you may find that you love the roasted option as it tastes totally different when cooked!
Ghee is a nearly lactose-free form of butter, which is therefore easier to digest than traditional butter since the milk proteins have been cooked out. In addition, ghee contains butyric acid, which supports the health and healing of the small intestine. Healthy fats, like ghee, are necessary to include in your diet for proper nutrient absorption.
Recipes/uses: Use ghee anywhere you'd use butter or coconut oil in recipes or blended into a Bulletproof-style coffee or matcha.
And are you ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.