A Good Gut Check Can Lead to Great Health

These seven foods are worth weaving into our diets for weight management and disease prevention — and far more

With the New Year of 2018 just about here, many of us are highly motivated to kickstart a healthy lifestyle.

Gut health is all the rage right now, and for good reason: The best foods can nourish good gut bugs — and leave us feeling incredible. Gut health has been shown to be connected to weight management, disease prevention, good digestion, and even happiness.

You’ve heard the probiotics story over and over again … but the missing nutrients in the discussion seem to be prebiotics. Prebiotic fibers and a special type of prebiotic called resistant starch are the fuel for probiotics.

Check out these seven foods that will get the gut in shape.

1.) Green banana flour. This naturally gluten-free flour is packed with 38 percent prebiotic-resistant starch. Acting as a selective source of fuel for the good probiotics in our gut, green banana flour boosts our resistant starch intake, which supports enhanced mineral absorption, improves blood sugar level regulation, and increases a feeling of fullness.

The recommended intake of resistant starch is about 20 grams per day, while estimated intakes currently are closer to three to eight grams per day. So boosting our intake with a spoonful of green banana flour is a surefire way to hit our daily target. Simply add a spoonful to a morning green smoothie. Or mix it into oats, bake it into some healthy muffins, or whip it into a delicious gluten-free protein pancake.

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2.) Overnight oats. These are becoming one of the most popular breakfasts to date, and with their versatile nature, it’s easy to see why. Oats are one of the most convenient ways to increase the intake of a range of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and most importantly, prebiotic resistant starch, to our diet. Just 100 grams of uncooked oats can provide up to 14.8 grams of resistant starch. That’s huge compared to many breakfast cereals or cooked oats, which either don’t offer any resistant starch or definitely not nearly as much.

Why not try some delicious vanilla and berry vegan overnight oats? These can be topped with a range of nutritionally dense toppings such as pistachios, seeds, or fruit, to make the perfect breakfast on the go.

3.) Pistachios. These delicious nuts provide us with more satisfying protein and dietary fiber versus calories than any of the other tree nuts. In addition, a recent study found that people who ate approximately 85 grams of pistachios had improved gut bacteria — and the effect of pistachio consumption on gut bacteria was much stronger than that of the pistachio’s nutty counterpart, the almond.

Boosting starch content in our food supports improved blood sugar level regulation, reduces hunger, and acts as a source of prebiotics to keep our gut happy and healthy.

Pistachios can become a nutritional powerhouse in 2018. Simply whip up an invigorating pistachio green smoothie for breakfast, crush them over a serving of overnight oats for a double hit of prebiotic fibers and resistant starches, or pack a handful of Setton Farms pistachios in a lunch for the perfect 3 p.m. pick-me-up.

4.) Cooked and cooled potatoes. For many years, potatoes have been unfairly sullied as the vegetable that provides too many carbohydrates. Regardless of whether one is watching carbohydrate intake or not, the vital piece of information about potatoes is that when we cook and then cool potatoes, the prebiotic resistant starch component can triple. Boosting that starch content in our food supports improved blood sugar level regulation, reduces hunger, and acts as a source of prebiotics to keep our gut happy and healthy.

5.) BarleyMax. Move over wheat, oats and rye: BarleyMax is the new kid on the block. It’s part of the whole grain family and is a whole grain itself. But here’s the catch: BarleyMax has the highest amount of resistant starch compared to our grain friends. Adding BarleyMax  to food is easy and a great way to increase the amount of prebiotic soluble fiber and resistant starch in our diets. One smart tip: Include Freedom Foods BarleyPlus range in a daily breakfast routine.

6.) Chicory root, dandelion greens and Jerusalem artichoke. What do these three vegetables have in common? They’re all some of the richest sources of prebiotics. Eating a diet jam-packed in prebiotics helps feed the friendly bacteria in our gut, promotes feelings of fullness, and enhances the availability and uptake of vitamins and minerals. There are plenty of ways to incorporate Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, and dandelion greens into our lifestyle to get that prebiotic hit.

7.) Konjac noodles, or “shirataki noodles.” These long, white, translucent noodles are often referred to as “miracle noodles” — and here’s why. These low-carbohydrate, Asian-descending noodles are made from a prebiotic-rich plant called the Konjac root. Konjac noodles are considered a great source of fiber, and contain a special type of soluble fiber, which causes them to move slowly through the digestive system, giving that “full” feeling.

They can be a great addition for those trying to lose some weight. On top of all of this, consuming konjac can also help regulate our blood sugar and insulin levels, and may lower cholesterol levels, too. To incorporate more of these miracle noodles into the diet, try delicious sesame noodles that “sub in” konjac noodles and “sub out” pasta or rice.

Kara Landau is a registered dietician based in New York City. 

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