A superfood is defined as being a food which offers the maximum nutritional benefits for minimal calories. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Due to this reason, they are excellent additions to our diet to improve our health because they actively fight free radicals and oxidative stress in the body, lowering the chance of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, respiratory diseases, immune deficiency, emphysema and Parkinson’s disease. However, they are not cure-all foods. You will still need to take your medication and work with your GP if you are at risk of any of these.
For the gut, the best superfoods to boost your health are:
You’ve heard the saying ‘an apple a day will keep the doctor away’, and while not entirely true, they still contain health properties which boost your gut microbiome. They contain prebiotic fibre called pectin, which transform into SCFAs, like propionate and butyrate. These feed your good gut bacteria and strengthen them.
Oats and oat bran
Oats are full of soluble fibre, keeping you fuller for longer. The beta-glucan compound helps lower cholesterol and the prebiotics promote the growth of your good intestinal bacteria.
Oat bran makes it easier for food to pass through your digestive system, thanks to the fibre and the fact that they can absorb a lot of water.
Asparagus contains inulin, a prebiotic fibre which breaks down in your gut. Inulin can increase the amount of good bacteria, as well.
Chicory root is often used as a coffee substitute as it contains no caffeine after it has been roasted and ground. It’s rich in prebiotic fibre, particularly inulin, which is excellent for nourishing the gut and prevents constipation. It also contains polyphenols which reduce cell damage caused by aging and illness.
Green plantains and bananas are rich in prebiotic resistant starch that feed the butyrate producing bacteria in your gut. Breaking down starch, which your body finds impossible to digest, they’re turned into beneficial short-chain fatty acids, to help combat inflammation and maintain the gut lining.
Flaxseeds enhance the gut barrier by promoting the production of mucus. It can help reduce gut inflammation and protect us against colon cancer. They also contain soluble and insoluble fibre, so they bulk out our poo and promote regular bowel movements. They’re excellent for constipation.
High inulin levels may cause gas in some people. However, our gut microbes love to feast on them. Eat too much of them and you might experience serious gut discomfort though.
Leeks contain 16% inulin and are high in polyphenol content which prevents oxidative stress by stabilising the free radicals. They’ve also been shown to prevent cancer in some patients, particularly colon and stomach.
Rye is high in beta-glucan, fructan and arabinoxylan. Fructan increases the amount of bifidobacteria, which supports your gut environment and other microbes by producing SCFAs, antimicrobial defences and vitamins in the gut.
Onions are an important source of prebiotics that fuel the things our gut bacteria does within the body. They contain inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides, which help to boost the immune system and protect us from illness.