In recent years, researchers have uncovered the link between a healthy gastrointestinal system – or gut – and the health of the whole body and brain. Now often called “the second brain,” the gut has been found to affect the immune system, vitamin and mineral absorption, mood, memory, and overall physical and mental health. But with the dietary and environmental stresses, our bodies encounter on a daily basis, our guts are struggling. So how can we heal and improve our gut health?
The good news is that the simple act of being vegan is likely having a positive impact on your gut health. A 2015 study found that people who ate a Mediterranean diet had healthier guts than those who didn’t. Of the study participants, nearly 90 percent of the vegan participants adhered to the Mediterranean diet – eating fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes – as compared to 65 percent of vegetarians and just 30 percent of meat-eaters (source).
So while simply being vegan will not, on its own, heal your gut, research eating a rich, plant-based diet – which most vegans do – can improve your gut health.
If you think that your gut health is in need of improvement, the first step is to figure out exactly what’s going on and how it’s affecting your overall health. It’s possible that some of your vegan staples could be negatively affecting your gut, so undergoing diagnostic testing could determine whether you have food sensitivities or other health issues, and help you figure out if and what foods or supplements could help your gut heal.
If you’re looking for a more general way to improve your gut health, there are a few easy things you can do. First, begin taking a high-quality probiotic supplement with multiple different probiotic strains. There are many vegan-friendly supplements out there at a variety of price points.
Second, try to incorporate more fermented and gut-friendly foods into your diet. Even without milk products, vegan yogurts and kefirs should have the same probiotic cultures as standard yogurt. Good gut foods include miso soup, sauerkraut, kimchi, olives and pickles, tempeh, kombucha tea, polenta, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, polenta, blueberries and more.
What other foods or methods have you found to improve your gut health?
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