Importance of Gut Health and a Healthy Immune System
Good Gut Health-We all want it but many of us are mystified how to get it!
And because about 80% of our immune response comes from a healthy gut, this is the time of year to nurture this important system of our body to fight off those nasty germs and viruses!
There’s a lot info about what to eat to maintain GI tract on the web and some of it does not have much science to back it up,so I want to share with some resources based on recent science to keep your gut healthy and also a one of our family’s favorite recipes that I fix during cold and flu season to boost our immune system and promote gut health! At the end of this post, I will be sharing lots more resources and recipes from some of my friends on the Recipe Redux.
Gut Microbiota and Immune System
One of the building blocks of a healthy gut is its biome.This is a mix of bacteria, yeast and other microbes that live in our gut. Each of us has our own unique blend that is as individual as our fingerprints. Just like neighborhoods can be nurtured and taken care of or run down, our good gut bacteria can become overrun by the less healthy or be in balance.
Gut dysbiosis is the imbalance and lack of diversity of the type of gut microbes that live in the gut with the less healthy wanting to take over the good. microbes.
How Can I Improve Gut Health?
Kate Scarlata and Patsy Castos two registered dietitians have done a lot of research in the field of gut health and how it is affected by what we eat! Here is a little summary from both of their suggestions on some of the best foods for gut health.
How Can I Increase Good Bacteria in my Gut?
- Eat more whole foods & less processed foods especially those containing emulsifiers like polysorbate 80 & carboxy methycellulose. These food reduce the healthy microbes in your gut.
- Get adequate fiber naturally from foods. (the types of high fiber foods may vary depending on if you have certain GI conditions).
- What foods feed good gut health? Add prebiotics are the preferred carbohydrate foods and are beneficial to feed healthy bacteria. These include rye, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, barley, onions, garlic and legumes. For people with IBS who do not tolerate these foods well, they may benefit from resistant starches like potatoes, corn tortillas, raw oats and green bananas instead.
- Adding live foods with healthy bacteria like kimchi, yogurt, lactose free yogurt and other foods can also help nurture healthy gut bacteria. Here is a little more on the Vine Nutrition Blog about fermented foods & their healthy probiotic effects.
- What foods are bad for the gut? Eating foods that help reduce inflammation while limiting those foods that increase it have an important role in gut health and immunity. I have written a post about inflammation here.
If you have been diagnosed by your physician to have certain GI conditions like IBS, Celiac, IBD or motility issues. it is important to find a registered dietitian specializing in GI conditions to help you individualize your meal plan to improve gut health and immunity.
Tomato Pumpkin Curry Soup With Tofu
This soup contains a lot of healthy gut friendly ingredients that will boost your immune system. High fiber, prebiotic/resistant starches, whole foods that are not processed, anti-inflammatory spices and topped with some yogurt with some live cultures! It may turn out to be one of the best low fodmap soup recipes that you have made!
Makes 4-6 servings
1 cup celery, chopped
1 small pumpkin skinned & diced
2 cups red potatoes, diced
1 cup celery small diced (you can reduce the portion or leave out if you have IBS celery is one of your trigger foods
(1/3 cup onion if desired)
(1-2 cloves garlic, minced if desired)
16 ounce can tomatoes, diced
1 box, extra firm tofu, drained and cubed into 1/2 by 1/2 inch cubes, baked (see baking directions below)
3 cup low fodmap vegetable stock (made without onion or garlic if you have IBS trigger some of your symptoms)
2 cup baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Curry Spice Blend (1/2 teaspoon tumeric, 1 teaspoon ground cumin,1/2 teaspoon ground or grated ginger ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne & 1/2 teaspoon coriander)
Cilantro for garnish
Plain yogurt with live cultures
Peanuts for garnish if desired
To bake tofu, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place tofu in a pyrex pan and toss it with oil and let it bake stirring every 5 minutes until it beomes a little crispy after 15-20 minutes. In a large stockpot over medium high heat, saute celery, onion, pumpkin and potatoes in 1 tablespoon of oil. We veggies start to get brown add garlic, salt, pepper and spices. Mix well and add tomatoes and broth.
Allow to simmer on low for at least 30-45 minutes until vegetables start to get soft. Just before serving add spinach and allow it to barely cook. When ready to serve add to the bowls. Top each bowl with the baked tofu, a large cilantro spring and a dollop of yogurt. You can also add a few roasted peanuts as a garnish also.
I hope that you find some of these tips building a healthy immune system and gut biome helps you stay well during this cold and flu season. In addition to a healthy gut having a role building a powerful immune system, it is also a very important component of brain health!
As a registered dietitian nutritionist in Asheville, I find it very rewarding working with clients to improve gut health and I love to hear when they begin to feel better! I provide nutrition counseling for IBS and have expertise teaching the low fodmap diet. I have a three session nutrition package to help clients improve gut health that provides great results. Contact me for more information!
I am also excited to share with you some other great tips of boosting your immune system on the posts on the link below!