Good gut health is pivotal to overall good health. A well-functioning gut not only aids digestion, but also influences the immune system, mood and skin health.
Whilst there are a wide range of expensive supplements and trendy 'superfoods' available on the supermarket shelves, it's essential to remember that good gut health can be achieved without breaking the bank.
In this blog, I'll introduce you to just 3 affordable, popular and delicious foods that can help support your gut health and empower you to take charge of your wellbeing without compromising your budget.
Yoghurt, a popular and affordable dairy product, can be a gut health superstar. Certain types of yoghurt are rich in probiotics, which are live beneficial bacteria that help maintain a healthy and happy gut (1,2).
When choosing a yoghurt for it's probiotic properties, opt for varieties labelled to contain 'live cultures'. This term indicates that the yoghurt has good levels of friendly bacteria, which are used during the fermentation process to produce the yoghurt from milk. Whilst all yoghurt production requires bacteria, additional processing methods used (such as pasteurisation) may destroy some of the bacteria present.
You may also be able to find dairy-free yoghurts which contain added probiotics. Always ensure you read the ingredients label.
To make live culture containing yoghurt even more gut-friendly, consider adding fibre rich fruits like berries or bananas. This combination of probiotics and fibre will not only help aid digestion but also help to nurture a healthy gut environment.
Oats are a budget-friendly and versatile whole food that really packs a fibre punch, making them a great food choice for looking after your gut health. Fibre acts as a food for friendly gut bacteria, helping growth and activity.
In particular, gut bacteria feed from prebiotic fibre. Oats contain a prebiotic fibre called beta-glucan (3). The regular appearance of oats in your diet will have your gut bacteria jumping for joy.
Start your day with a wholesome and delicious bowl of porridge or overnight oats topped with fruit, nuts and a big spoonful of yoghurt for an extra gut-friendly breakfast.
Beans are another affordable gut-loving food which are plentiful in fibre. Beans contain soluble fibre, helping to support healthy bowel movements, whilst also feeding your gut bacteria (4).
In addition, beans contain resistant starch which resists digestion in the large intestine (5). As a result, gut bacteria are able to ferment it in order to produce short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids are crucial to good health and the ones most commonly spoken about include acetate, butyrate and propionate. These short-chain fatty acids can have affects all over the body, including maintaining a good gut lining to supporting blood glucose (sugar) control (although mechanisms behind this aren't clear yet) (6,7).
Add beans to your meals in various ways: top salads with chickpeas, make a warming bean chilli, blend them into a velvety humous for the perfect gut-friendly snack.
Maintaining good gut health is essential and it doesn't have to be expensive. By incorporating affordable foods like yoghurt, oats and beans into your diet, you can nourish your gut health and overall health without straining your budget.
R. Lambert (2021) The Science of Nutrition: Debunk the diet myths and learn how to eat well for health and happiness (London UK, Darling Kindersley Limited)