If you’ve been obsessing over how your abs look, it’s time to focus on what’s behind them – your gut! Your gut, which consists of your small and large intestines, plays an important role in the way your body is able to absorb water, take in vitamins and minerals, and digest food (just to name a few of its many functions). 1
Numerous experts claim the gut is the foundation to health. So, if you want that tight tummy, try to incorporate more foods that will keep your GI tract happy to avoid bloating. Here are a few accessible options to get started on achieving an attractive and healthy belly:
Probiotics are live bacteria that help to encourage gut health. These bacterial colonies can be found in great abundance in foods like yogurt, and they help to replace some of the beneficial bacteria you may have lost while taking antibiotics or fighting off a case of diarrhea.
According to a study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, probiotics also improve your health by changing the way the microbes act in your intestinal tract. Specifically, this is seen with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) – this probiotic can be found in many types of active culture yogurts. 3
If you’re not a fan of yogurt, sauerkraut may be a better probiotic food option. In fact, sauerkraut typically contains more probiotics than yogurt. While active culture yogurts contain two or three types of probiotics, certain brands of sauerkraut can contain as many as eight strains of beneficial bacteria, according to a report published by Integrative Medicine. 4
Other foods that contain several different types or strains of probiotics include pickled beets, kimchi, and kefir. Basically, any fermented food that you make at home or purchase at the local supermarket will be rich in beneficial bacteria. The bacteria are present during the fermentation process and remain in the food until you eat it.
You may already know that a high-fiber diet is good for you. A number of studies conducted by Harvard University show that a diet high in fiber can reduce your risk of developing serious ailments.
Since beans contain a great deal of fiber, they are a good addition to a gut-healthy diet. Black, kidney, lima, pinto, and white beans are all good choices. If you want to consume the most fiber per serving, then go for cooked black or kidney beans. 5
Not only can beans reduce your cancer risks, but they can also prevent constipation.
While most minor cases of constipation are harmless, long-term constipation can lead to more serious medical problems. 6
Beans also help to create intestinal gas. While most people may think that this is a bad thing for the gut, this is simply not true. Gas is important in feeding the microbes that live in your intestines. Without gas, the bacteria would not have a food source, and the healthy microbes would no longer flourish. 7
If you have a sweet tooth and like to indulge on occasion, you’ll be happy to learn that chocolate is actually a gut-friendly food. However, don’t buy the first chocolate bar you see. Dark chocolate is the way to go.
Chocolate is made from cacao beans, which have a fairly high polyphenol count. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant that naturally occurs in certain types of plants. 8 Specifically, they are metabolites that are extremely beneficial to the body.
According to research published in Endocrine Abstracts, chocolate has one of the highest concentrations of polyphenols. 9
When it comes to the gut, the microbes in the colon at the very end of the digestive tract break down the chocolate. 10 When this happens, the colon bacteria remain healthy, and more of the beneficial microbes develop in the area.
Cocoa powder alone is a good choice if you want the gut healthy benefits of polyphenols. You can also choose to purchase and eat a dark chocolate bar. If you do this, then look for a product with a high percentage of cocoa solids. These types of chocolate bars will have more of the polyphenol-rich cocoa beans in them.
Eat Well for a Healthy, Good-Looking Gut
Keeping the gut in good shape is essential to your overall health. Scientific research shows that certain types of food can greatly enhance the way the gut functions and flourishes with healthy microbes. Making sure to keep these foods in mind when creating your diet plan is the best way to encourage a healthy belly.
For more tips on maintaining a healthy belly, keep reading here:
1. “Media Backgrounders – Detail”. Asge.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
3. Khan, Aleea. “New Research Sheds Light On Popular Probiotic’s Benefits For The Gut”. Asm.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
4. Parker, Emily. “Probiotics And Disease: A Comprehensive Summary—Part 2, Commercially Produced Cultured And Fermented Foods Commonly Available In The United States”. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
5. Sinai, Mount. “Fiber Content Chart”. Wehealny.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
6. “Constipation – Complications – NHS Choices”. Nhs.uk. N.p., 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
7. Doucleff, Michaeleen. “Got Gas? It Could Mean You’ve Got Healthy Gut Microbes”. NPR.org. N.p., 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
8. Pandey, Kanti Bhooshan and Syed Ibrahim Rizvi. “Plant Polyphenols As Dietary Antioxidants In Human Health And Disease”. N.p., 2009. Print.
9. Farhat, Grace. “Dark Chocolate Rich In Polyphenols Improves Insulin Sensitivity In The Adult Non-Diabetic Population”. N.p., 2014. Print.
10. Courage, Katherine. “Why Is Dark Chocolate Good For You? Thank Your Microbes”. Scientific American. N.p., 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.