These are the top 5 foods I recommend in my nutrition practice to help heal the gut and promote a healthy, strong gut lining.
Hippocrates said it best when he said, "Let Food Be Thy Medicine". It is amazing what food can do for our bodies if we use it the right way!
Unfortunately in our environment and food industry today, we are bombarded with ingredients, chemicals, and lack of nutrients that lead to digestive issues and overall unhealthy guts.
In this article we will focus on the top foods for healing the gut. The main focus is on the small intestine gut lining, where the majority of our nutrients are broken down and absorbed. Imagine our gut lining as a brick wall. We cannot avoid having some bricks missing here and there, but our body is able to stay on top of things and replace those bricks (this is just one reason why sleep is so important!).
But what happens when our body is unable to keep up and the brick wall doesn't get built back up? We end up with a permeable gut lining, or better known as 'leaky gut'. In this state our body is unable to properly break down and absorb nutrients. Worse yet, our body is still being bombarded with toxins, bacteria, and other harmful pathogens. It can be tough to heal the gut and get back to a safe and healthy state.
This is why I'm going to share with you the top 5 foods I recommend in my nutrition practice to help heal the gut and promote a healthy, strong gut lining.
If you are dealing with digestive issues such as bloating, gas, heartburn, diarrhea, or constipation; and want to know how you can treat these symptoms naturally and heal the gut - let's chat! There is so much we can do through food. I highly recommend working together prior to starting medications. Let's Chat!
Top 5 Foods to Heal Your Gut
Here are my top 5 favorite gut-healing foods, Registered Dietitian approved!
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) that helps to rebuild the gut lining and provide quick nutrients that don't need to be broken down like other fats. Coconut oil also has lauric acid and caprylic acid, which are anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. So coconut oil also helps to rid the gut of harmful bacteria and microbes. This allows more space for healthy bacteria to thrive!
Purchase coconut oil that is organic, extra virgin and cold pressed for the best quality. You don't need a lot of coconut oil to reap its benefits. Add just 1 tablespoon of coconut oil into your day. I love to use coconut oil mixed into my energy bites because it brings in a sweet flavor.
2. Bone Broth
Bone broth is a souped up version of your classic chicken or beef broth. Bone broth is when the bones, ligaments, and tendons of a meat or seafood is simmered for an extended time or at a very high heat. What this does is actually break down the bones and allow the nutrients to be released into the broth.
Bone broth is wonderful for gut healing because of all the nutrients that bones hold! Animal bones are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and other trace minerals. These minerals build and strengthen bones and tissues. The animal tissues also contain collagen, an important protein that turns into a rich collection of amino acids that strengthen our tissue development (including gut lining)
See recipe below on how to make your own bone broth!
3. Fermented Vegetables
Fermented vegetables are rich in probiotics, which are living bacteria that are beneficial for our bodies and our guts! Probiotics live in our gut, the colon to be specific, and play a role in our body's immune system, metabolism, and digestion. By adding fermented vegetables into your diet, you can gently nourish the gut and provide beneficial bacteria that will help you digest foods and boost gut health!
Fermented vegetables are alive so they need to be kept refrigerated. You will find them in the refrigerated produce section of the grocery store. Sauerkraut and kimchi are the most popular types of fermented vegetables. Add at least two tablespoons daily for a health benefit.
Note: If you notice a worsening of gut issues or bloating with introduction of fermented vegetables, ease off. This could be a sign that you have a bad balance of bacteria present or yeast that is causing a reaction to the probiotics. You will need to eliminate the harmful microbes and rebalance the gut in order to heal.
Garlic has been used and studied extensively for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Garlic contains a high amount of sulfur (which is also what gives it the potent smell). The sulfur component, allicin, is what has powerful anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties. It helps to balance healthy bacteria in the gut and also provides the defense against new pathogens.
In order to get the full benefits of garlic it is important to chop or mince garlic and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before heating garlic. This is to allow the enzymes enough time to activate. Heat can destroy the enzymes if they are not fully activated.
Ginger is a root that you can buy fresh at the grocery store and grate to use in recipes or to make tea. Ginger helps stimulate gastric motility, which is the movement of the muscles in your GI tract. By stimulating movement between meals, you help your body with digestion and can prevent bacteria from fermenting in the gut and causing bloating post-meal.
Ginger is also helpful with nausea, so if you are experiencing nausea from bloating or constipation drinking a ginger tea can be helpful. And of course let's not forget the wonderful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of ginger!
2-4 pounds organic animal bones
1 gallon water
2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
Easiest Method: Pressure Cooker
Make a whole chicken or turkey breast in the pressure cooker.
Carve off the meat and put the bones back into the pressure cooker pot. Cover bones with water, but make sure water doesn't go up past the liquid line. Add ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar and any herbs, seasonings or spices you’d like. Cover and lock.
Cook on high pressure for 3 hours for chicken bones or 4.5 hours for beef bones. You know you’ve cooked it long enough if all the connective tissue, tendons, and cartilage have dissolved and the bones crumble a bit when you poke them. If this hasn’t happened, cook for another 30 minutes on high pressure.
Allow the pressure to release naturally. Use the broth or stock right away (see ideas below) or store it in the fridge for 5 days or freezer for up to 6 months.
Slow Cooker Method
Add roasted bones, kitchen scraps, seasonings, and a splash of apple cider vinegar to a slow cooker. Cover completely with water, turn on low and let cook for 24 hours for chicken or poultry. For beef broth cook for 48 hours.
Use a ladle or glass measuring cup to scoop out broth. Pour broth through a fine-mesh sieve to remove debris and herbs.
Different Ways to Use Bone Broth
Use as a liquid base in soups or as a liquid in sauteing meats and vegetables
Use to make sauces or dishes that call for water.
Use as water to cook grains or legumes.
Drink it plain. This is by far my favorite way to enjoy this nourishing drink. If flavored with herbs and spices it tastes just like the broth of classic chicken soup.
Interested in taking next steps to balancing hormones and healing your gut? Check out my Hormone Hub group program here!
Liz Riesen, Registered Dietitian
specializes in digestive and hormone imbalances. Often these conditions coexist and share common disruptive symptoms including mood changes, bloating, pain, irregular cycles, inflammation, and more.
Liz is trained in identifying and healing food sensitivities, as well as balancing hormones naturally through nutrition and lifestyle.
Follow me @LizRiesenRD on Instagram and Facebook. Subscribe and tune into our podcast, Venture To Live Well.