Dr. Marvin Singh’s Top 10 Foods for Gut Health
I advise my patients that adhering to a healthy diet is one of the main lifestyle choices that they can make to improve gut health. A gut-healthy diet doesn’t need to be complicated. There are many gut-healthy foods out there that most people should be able to easily integrate into their diet. These foods are rich in a combination of nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, and omega-3s. Here are my 10 favorite foods for gut health:
A member of the bitter greens family, arugula is loaded with calcium, potassium, folate, and a host of other vitamins and minerals. Arugula is also a cruciferous vegetable, which means it’s packed with fiber and prebiotic material to sustain gut health. Arugula adds a flair of spice to foods. You can put it in a salad or mix it with your favorite dish.
Considered a super-herb by some health experts, cilantro has the ability to support detoxification and balance blood sugar. Cilantro is chock-full of immune-supporting antioxidants, like vitamin C, vitamin A, and quercetin. You can add this flavorful herb as a garnish to a salad or any kind of dish.
Asparagus is a prebiotic-rich food, which means it provides nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria. This vegetable is also one of the few dietary sources of glutathione, an antioxidant concentrated in the liver that helps remove waste from the body. You can grill, sauté, or steam asparagus, or even add it chopped to a salad.
- Bok Choy
A cruciferous vegetable, bok choy contains gut-healthy vitamins and minerals and is a good source of manganese, folate, and sulforaphane. Sulforaphane activates the protein Nfr2, which in turn activates certain antioxidant genes in the body.
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it a potent digestive aid that people have used for centuries to improve gastrointestinal comfort. In addition to easing nausea, ginger can be used to alleviate gas, bloating, and stomach pains.
A staple of Korean cuisine, kimchi is a side dish of salted and fermented vegetables like napa cabbage and Korean radish, prepared with healthy seasonings like spring onions, garlic, ginger, and chili powder. Fermented foods like kimchi help to modulate the body’s immune system and inflammatory pathways.
- Okinawan sweet potato
Okinawan sweet potatoes, which have a rich purple color, contain a high amount of antioxidants. In fact, they have more antioxidants than blueberries, and in test-tube studies, antioxidants in purple sweet potatoes were shown to aid in the growth of a specific type of beneficial gut bacteria.
Blueberries contain blue-purple pigments called proanthocyanidins that are superb for brain health. Blueberries are also packed with fiber—about 6 grams per cup.
This flavorful, golden spice inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory genes and blocks the inflammatory response pathway, which leads to several full-body benefits, from supporting immunity to promoting gut comfort.
Walnuts are a good source of vitamin E and contain polyphenols, a category of plant compounds that offers various health benefits and are thought to boost digestion and brain health, as well as protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. Aside from their rich nutritional profile, walnuts are versatile. You can eat them as a snack, or toss them in a salad.
Dr. Marvin Singh is an integrative gastroenterologist in San Diego, CA, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM®), which is governed by the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS).