With the right diet, it can be possible to heal your gut to reduce the effects of intolerances. We asked Lara Jezeph, consultant on gut health, fitness and wellness to tell us about the foods you should be eating to reduce that gut inflammation and improve your digestion. She explains all below…
A wide variety of common health problems – from allergies, intolerances and digestive disorders, through to joint pain, acne and dry skin – are caused by inflammation in the body.
Now, what actually is inflammation?
We hear this word a lot and always in a negative way, but inflammation is actually a vital part of the body’s immune response. It is the body’s attempt to heal itself after an injury; defend itself against viruses and bacteria and repair damaged tissue. Without inflammation, wounds wouldn’t heal and infections could become worse. However, inflammation can also cause a lot of health problems such as the list mentioned above.
The key to reducing such inflammation starts with your diet. Instead of grabbing those painkillers why not add a few of these fighting foods to help combat inflammation the natural way. Balance is the key to a healthy body free of inflammation.
These are my top 10 go-to gut healing foods that actually combat inflammation in the body…
- Omega-3 fat.Animal-based omega-3 fats found in fatty fish like wildAlaskan salmon and fish or krill oil help fight inflammation throughout your body, and are particularly important for brain health. Researchpublished in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology  in 2012 confirmed that dietary supplementation with krill oil effectively reduced inflammation and oxidative stress. Not a fish fan? Try a good quality Omega3/fish oil supplement on a daily basis and you can get vegan supplements too.
- Leafy Greens. Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard contain powerful antioxidants and vitamin C, all of which help protect against cellular damage. Ideally, opt for organiclocally grown veggies that are in season, and consider eating a fair amount of them raw. If you want to know more about which foods are best to buy organic and which you can get away with, then click here.
- Blueberries. Blueberries rate very high in antioxidant capacitycompared to other fruits and vegetables. Plus,they are lower in sugar than many other fruits!
- Tea. I am in love with tea. My favourite healing teas, which are naturally caffeine, free and high in anti-oxidants are Roobios and green (help with weight management), nettle, dandelion and peppermint teas. These are all very soothing, aid in digestion (especially peppermint) and dandelion helps prevent water retention.
- Fermented Foods. Optimising your gut flora is important for a well-functioning immune system, and helps ward off chronic inflammation. Did you know that the majority of inflammatory diseases start in your gut because 70% of your entire immune system is located in the gut ? Fermented foods such as kefir, kimchee, miso, tempeh, pickles, olives, and other fermented vegetables, will help increase the variety of microbiome in your gut. Be careful not to have too much though, as it could cause the opposite effect.
Fermented foods can also help your body rid itself of harmful toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides found in tap water and fruit and vegetables if not organic or washed properly. These toxins promote inflammation.
- Bananas. I should be called Lara Banana because I have at least one of these nearly every day! Not only is it a filling snack but bananas are a prebiotic food – it feeds the bacteria in your gut to keep it thriving. Add some nut butter or brazil nuts to this for a tasty pre or post exercise snack. Oh yes, get in my belly!
6. Bone broth. Bone broths contain minerals in forms that your body can easily absorb, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and silicon. They contain chondroitin and glucosamine (the compounds sold as expensive supplements to reduce inflammation and joint pain) . It can help repair a damaged and inflamed gut. If you are located in the UK there are some amazing broths in the supermarket if you don’t have time to make your own! Tesco’s and Waitrose offer two great versions that do not have added rubbish like yeast extract and wine. Go for the beef version if you can, as this tends to be the best for even the most sensitive gut.
- Gluten free oats. The best slow releasing carbohydrate that is filling, easy on digestion and really versatile offering so much variety into yourdiet. From adding fruits and nuts and heating through, to doing over night oats in the fridge with coconut milk and flaxseeds. I am in love with this one.
9. Cinnamon & Turmeric.These spices have been shown in various studies to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric, the ingredient that gives curry its yellow colour, works in the body by helping to turn off a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the process of inflammation, researchers say. Cinnamon adds a slight sweetness to foods, aids in blood sugar levels and has also been shown to reduce inflammation.
- Coconut Oil/ Milk. Coconut oil is easy to digest, but also produces a longer sustained energy and increases your metabolism. It improves digestion by absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. Try taking coconut oil the same time as omega-3 fatty acids, it can make them twice as effective, as they are readily available to be digested and used by the body .
Coconut oil can also help improve gut imbalances such as Candida and IBS. The coconut is an all round amazing food type to add into your diet to improve overall health and wellbeing. You can also add this to your hair and skin for beautiful results.
Along with consuming these types of foods, you should also be removing the foods that actually increase inflammation in the body, like processed foods, sugar and alcohol. If you are interested in finding out more on inflammation, intolerances and ways to reduce and improve your digestive discomfort then do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.larajezeph.com!
If you enjoyed this post and have questions for Lara, check out our next Eat Safe event where she’ll be speaking on our expert panel on ‘Balancing Work, Life, and Nutrition. Tickets are limited, get in quick!
References:  Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 2012 Jan; 47(1):49-58, Greenmedinfo.com Garlic – See more at: http://www.wandsworthchiro.co.uk/blog/56/10-foods-that-fight-inflammation#sthash.ZHEprXDy.dpuf  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/  http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/why-broth-is-beautiful-essential-roles-for-proline-glycine-and-gelatin/  https://draxe.com/coconut-oil-benefits/