We talk about a lot about gut healing here at mindbodygreen, and while more expensive supplements and foods can definitely be part of the process, they’re not necessary to it. In the spirit of our you. we. all. philosophy we challenged top registered dietitian and founder of Tovita Nutrition Leah Silberman to find ten gut-healing foods that cost less than $1 a serving. Here’s what she said:
1. Beans & lentils
"These guys are excellent sources of fiber, protein, and B vitamins, which are all important for proper gut health!," said Silberman. "Yes, eating too many beans in one sitting can cause gassiness for some people (this is due to their high-fiber content), so be sure to begin with just one serving. Research also shows that the more frequently beans and legumes are consumed, the better your gut will tolerate them. The average can of beans costs between 99 cents and $2 and contains about 3 servings." We love Eden Organic since they're pressure cooked to lower lectin content.
"You may have heard a thing or two about kimchi by now, and that’s because it’s a probiotic powerhouse!" explained Silberman. "Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made from fermented veggies—usually cabbage. It’s a great source of probiotics, aka the good bacteria that reside in our guts." Mama O’s premium Vegan Kimchi costs $7.99 per jar and contains 8 servings, making it just 99 cents a serving!
Bet you don’t think of oysters when you think of gut health! "It comes as a surprise to many, but oysters are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, namely iron, selenium, and zinc," explained Silberman. "Zinc is an especially important mineral for wound healing, as it expedites the process by promoting quicker cell turnover (aka, when we need to make new cells to heal a wound)." Be sure to catch the $1 oyster special at your local seafood joint.
According to Silberman, "these guys are good sources of prebiotic fiber, which provide a food source for our beloved probiotic bacteria. Think about it like this: if you want the good bacteria to proliferate, they need to be fed! Prebiotics are essentially the probiotic feed."
"Similar to kimchi, sauerkraut is a probiotic gold mine," Silberman said. You can add it to a salad, quinoa bowl, or even put it on your morning eggs. Cleveland Sauerkraut has 7.5 servings/container, and a container costs $7.79. Just make sure you buy a refrigerated kind for all the good-gut benefits!
6. Gut shots
Silberman also loves probiotics in liquid form. "If fermented foods just aren’t your thing, Farmhouse Culture and GT both make probiotic "gut shots" that you can take for a quick and convenient boost of probiotics," she said. One bottle of the Farmhouse Culture costs $7.99 and contains 11 servings, making it $0.72/serving.
7. Brussels sprouts
These veggies seem to get lots of attention—for lots of good reasons! In addition to their impressive nutrient profile, they’re also high in sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates. Glucosinolates have been shown to promote good intestinal barrier integrity; in other words, they may help prevent leaky gut.
Turmeric for gut health? Absolutely. "Turmeric has a very strong anti-inflammatory effect, and just as other cells in your body can become inflamed or exposed to harmful free radicals, the lining of your intestines is no different," said Silberman. "Spices in general tend to be wonderful, versatile sources of antioxidants. This doesn’t mean you should now overdose on turmeric, but it does mean you can make a conscious effort to add it to your diet where it makes sense, i.e., over veggies, in a smoothie, or in a homemade salad dressing." One bottle of Simply Organic Turmeric costs $3.29, meaning there are lots of servings in there for under a buck!
...and most other high-fiber whole grains for that matter. "Just 1 serving of barley has 8 grams of fiber, and we already know that fiber is a major player in the (gut health) game," said Silberman. "Remember, fiber helps to keep us full and satiated and helps food content to pass through our intestines." One bag of Arrowhead Mills Organic Pearled Barley is about $4. With 18 servings per bag, 1 serving comes to just 22 cents!
It seems as if we’re laser-focused on the right foods to eat, but we forget about our beloved beverages—and water especially seems to slip under the radar. "Drinking enough water is crucial for just about every bodily function, and your gut is no exception!" Silberman said. "It is essential for digestion as it helps food pass through your intestines and even aids in nutrient absorption. It also helps to prevent constipation. How do you know if you’re properly hydrated? Just look at your urine! Yep—the color is an easy indicator of your hydration status, and the lighter the better. So keep that water bottle filled, and don’t stop drinking! Oh—and it’s FREE from the tap!"
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