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The best foods for Gut Health

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Certain foods are excellent for your gut health, promoting larger numbers and a greater diversity of healthy bacteria, which provide greater levels of anti-inflammatory and health beneficial compounds.

There was a very important research study produced in Holland which looked at foods and dood groups and their effects on both your gut health and overall health. Put simply, there are a large number of foods – refined, processed, packaged foods, fizzy soft drinks, chocolate and alcohols which feed and increase the numbers of certain bacteria in your microbiome that you really do not want. These bacteria make high levels of inflammatory compounds and make you ill. 

On the other hand, the research study found that there were a group of ‘good’ whole foods that could promote gut health and increase the numbers of helpful bacteria that made anti-inflammatory compounds and kept you in good health. The good list included Extra Virgin Olive Oil, fish oils and oily fish, nuts such as walnuts and almonds, berries and even dark 85% chocolate and red wine! 

Not surprisingly, the study linked foods of Chris Woollams original Rainbow Diet, to good health (1).

As you will see, foods that promote gut health, also promote your health. One group of compounds produced are the important short chain fatty acids that control a healthy metabolism; another group promote something you may not have heard of: Urolithin A, crucial for healthy aging.

Yes. A healthy gut makes a healthy body.

Four of the best ‘Prebiotic’ foods for health.

1. Foods high in Pectin:

Research shows that consuming pectin, boosts the growth and division of important commensal bacteria, mainly Lactobacillus. One study (2) showed that pectins reduced blood glucose and triglyceride levels and promoted levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Pectins cannot be absorbed by the body – they are fermented by bacteria in the colon to produce the three super molecules – the short chain fatty acids – butyrate, propionate and acetate that control our metabolism! 

  1. Almost all fruits have a minimum of 10% pectin. Peaches, apples, oranges, grapefruit and apricots come top – a small peach contains 0.91 gm of pectin, while 1 cup of sliced apple contains 0.65 gm. When you juice fruits, the pulp left behind is the pectins!

  2. Legumes (pulses) are also high in pectin. Legumes can be 15 to 20 percent pectin, according to the USDA.  For example, peas contain 0.96 gm pectin in an average cup full.

  3. Vegetables have lower levels of pectin but are still good The top vegetables are carrots – one large carrot contains 0.576 gm of pectin. Tomatoes and potatoes are also high. An average tomato contains 0.37 gm of pectin;  an average white potato contains 0.64 gm.

2. Foods high in inulin

Inulin boosts the growth and division of important commensal bacteria. In a meta-analysis the biggest and most consistent boost was for strains of the species Bifidobacterium. Other increases were noted for commensal bacteria Anaerostipes, Faecalibacterium, and Lactobacillus; while inulin consumption produced a decrease in relative abundance of Bacteroides (3). B. fragilis is an anaerobic pathogen and species of the genus Bacteroides are usually antibiotic resistant. 

  1. Artichoke
  2. Chicory (Endive) root
  3. Garlic, onions, spring onions
  4. Asparagus
  5. Whole grain Rye
  6. Whole grain Barley
  7. Bananas
  8. Burdock root

Dark chocolate and red wine also increase the Bifidobacterium family and promote gut health!

3. Foods high in Ellagic Acid and Ellagitannins

Ellagic Acid and the intake of ellagitannins can boost commensal (good) bacteria to almost twice the levels that pectin does. These compounds can also attack viruses and even cancer cells. However, bacteria convert these polyphenols into metabolites that are super-important for your health – Urolithins or Uros (4). 

Because of their poor diets and because they have lost the important bacteria, 33 percent of people in America produce none, and Urolithin A is only produced in 40 percent of Western people. 

Why is Urolitin A so important to your health? Preclinical studies have shown that UA protects against aging and age-related conditions affecting muscle, brain, joints, and other organs (5).

In particular, Urolithin A increases mitophagy and mitochondrial function and blunts excessive inflammatory responses. This doesn’t just promote gut health but conveys huge benefits in healthy aging. Indeed UA levels in older people have been found to be biomarkers of their health.

Top foods for Ellagic acid are: 

  1. Berries – wild strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
  2. Pomegranates
  3. Tropical fruits
  4. Nuts such as Walnuts and pecans
  5. Cranberries
  6. The Ox tongue (or Beefsteak) mushroom

4. Other significant anti-inflammatory gut health boosting foods

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  2. Fish Oil
  3. Soluble fibre foods – whole oats, psyllium, nuts (walnuts, almonds), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), vegetables, pulses (legumes) lentils, red kidney beans, chickpeas.

Not surprisingly, these foods are all in the Rainbow Diet!

Go to: The Rainbow Diet

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References

  1. Study links Rainbow Diet foods to good healthhttps://the-rainbow-diet.com/articles/the-colourful-mediterranean-diet/study-links-rainbow-diet-foods-to-good-health/
  2. Behavior of pectins in Colorectal cancer induced rats; Alvaro Ferreira-Lazarte et al; Int J Bill Macromol; 2021 Jan 15:167:1349-1360.
  3. The effects of inulin on gut microbial composition; Quentin le Bastard et al; Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis, 2020 Mar;39(3):403-413
  4. Gut Bacteria Involved in Ellagic Acid Metabolism To Yield Human Urolithin Metabotypes Revealed; Carlos E. Iglesias-Aguirre et al; J Agric Food Chem. 2023 Mar 8; 71(9): 4029–4035.
  5. Impact of the Natural Compound Urolithin A on Health, Disease, and Aging; Davide D’Amico et al; Trends in Molecular Medicine, July 2021, Vol 27, issue 7, 687-699