5 gut-healing foods that will heal your mind, body and skin

“If there’s one thing to know about the human body; it’s this: the human body has a ringmaster. This ringmaster controls your digestion, your immunity, your brain, your weight, your health and even your happiness. This ringmaster is the gut.” - Nancy Mure

Mure defines the gut accurately—it is indelibly one of the most crucial parts of your body. The gut a.k.a your gastrointestinal system truly influences your tip-to-toe health. And no, the gut isn’t the same as your stomach; the latter is just one part of your gastrointestinal system while the gut refers to the entire tract starting from your mouth all the way to your anus. This theory explains the vital role that the gut plays in the journey from ingestion to digestion. “Your gut health plays a role in many areas of your health and wellbeing,” says Rakhee Jain, a nutrition consultant from Mumbai. Expanding on that, she also talks about its holistic nature, “Your gut health is linked with your immunity, mental health, endocrine system, metabolic health, cardiovascular health and a lot more. Improving your lifestyle, especially your diet, can improve gut health.”

Our gut is packed with a truckload of bacteria that form the microbiome or microbiota. For your gut to be up and running smoothly, it is essential that this microbiome inhabits in a peaceful and conflict-free manner. However, an inactive sedentary lifestyle largely contributes to compromised gut health which in turn can invite a slew of concerns—internal and external; it can affect your kidneys, sugar levels, digestive system and heart as well as cause pesky skin and hair issues like acne, eczema, hair loss, psoriasis and more. The reason? Microbial imbalance, that can impair your body’s capacity to absorb nutrients, store (good) fats and maintain an ideal sugar level. Thus, gut health is truly the ringmaster that can keep your physical, mental and emotional health in check. 

If a tight schedule is leaving you with limited time, simply add these gut-healing foods to your daily diet and witness the mojo.

1. Blueberries

Eat these pretty-looking berries fresh or frozen, with oats or just by themselves. “They are rich in prebiotics and antioxidants, which serves as a precursor to probiotics, contributing to healthy bacteria in the gut and colon,” explains Jain. She adds, “Furthermore, the potent anti-inflammatory properties found in blueberries can alter the gut bacteria and reduce inflammation.” Thus, these berries make for a great addition to your breakfast bowls to curtail the morning-time puffiness on the skin and give you a boost of energy too.

2. Garlic & Onions

We all love the spice and flavour that these delicious roots bring to our meals. Lucky for us, they aid the gut too. “Garlic and onions are naturally high in inulin, a type of non-digestible carbohydrate or ‘functional fibre’ that feeds the good bacteria in your digestive system,” apprises Jain. Further, onions and garlic are packed with antifungal properties that relieve the skin and hair from irritation. Lastly, how can we not address sulphur-packed onion’s mighty benefits for thicker, stronger and luscious hair?

3. Kimchi

Kimchi is a much-loved side dish from Korean cuisine that has now made its way to every conscious eater’s kitchen. It’s nothing but a mix of fermented veggies like cabbage and radish. Of course, you can play around with the veggies. Jain encourages you to have some Kimchi because, “it is a good source of probiotics as well as prebiotics due to the fibre it contains; it’s also packed with post biotics: the byproduct that is produced when food is fermented. All of these are beneficial to the gut.” Kimchi is a Korean dish and Koreans are known for their glazed donut skin, so that explains the skin-bettering benefits of the dish; it’s rich in antioxidants, the key to healthier, youthful and glowing skin.

4. Rice

Haven’t we all been advised to go on an only-rice diet when our stomach feels out of sorts? “Rice is a carbohydrate source that is gentle on the gut,” tells Jain, that explains why it’s the go-to healing food. “But what most people don’t know is that the process of cooking and cooling your rice before consuming increases the resistant starch content. This helps feed the friendly bacteria in your gut and increases the production of short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. Short-chain fatty acids play a key role in gastrointestinal as well as cardiovascular health,” reveals Jain. “Resistant starch may help prevent colon cancer,” she adds. Rice may not be a staple in your diet but its gut-healing benefits surely outweigh the little carb quotient.

5. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a hot-favourite superfood today and no, we’re not complaining. Besides making for a fun addition to your detox waters and overnight smoothie bowls, “chia seeds are a rich source of fibre and prebiotics,” mentions Jain. “Consuming them can ease constipation and promote better bowel movement. This superfood may improve intestinal tissue health and reduce after-meal blood sugar levels,” suggests Jain. She also endorses chia seeds for they’re packed with “a high level of antioxidants” that can be of advantage to your skin and hair too.

We’ve all not just heard but also experienced that “what goes inside, shows on the outside.” And so, we must alter our meals mindfully and thoughtfully and add these gut-healing heroes to them for a happy gut, healthy skin and hair and overall well-being.

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