Easy ways to choose for your gut
Your gut health is important; not only does it digest and absorb nutrients, but it plays a key role in your immune system’s health, as well as your nervous system. Your digestive system is the most neurologically-connected system in your body. That “gut feeling” you have when making decisions can be influenced by emotions like anger, anxiety, and concern. Even just thinking about food can trigger hunger responses in your digestive system. A healthy gut can contribute to a healthy mental health state.
How do you maintain a healthy digestive system? By making choices and decisions that take better care of it. While there’s a lot of gut-friendly foods out there, we want to focus here on some substitutions you can make with your cooking or baking to lean your body towards a healthier gut. Making these small and consistent changes can create a healthier gut microbiome while getting the most out of your food!
While pickles aren’t necessarily bad for you, there’s better choices for your gut health. Swapping pickles with sauerkraut in a sandwich add some important probiotics associated with immune health. As well, these probiotics also help remove harmful bacteria from your gut flora, which helps balance your immune system. It’s also a great source of fiber, which helps your digestive system move food more effectively. Sauerkraut is fermented, which means it has been mixed with other bacteria and microorganisms. This helps in diversifying your gut microbiome. You can buy fermented pickles, but they’re much harder to find. You’ll typically need to go to a health shop for them, and even then, you’ll have to make sure that they’re naturally fermented with yeast, bacteria, and other microbes. Sauerkraut is easily available at most grocery stores.
Wild or Brown Rice
While white rice tastes great and technically has less calories per serving than wild or brown rice, it has not nearly the same nutritional value. White rice has had its husk, bran, and germ removed through a milling process. Through this process, it loses a lot of nutrients, including fibers, which are essential for a healthy gut.
In a 1/3 cup serving, brown rice has .9 g more fiber, .4 g more protein, and .5 more fat. White rice tends to also be artificially processed with more nutrients such as calcium and iron, since the milling process extracts so much natural nutrients from the rice. But brown rice has more essential and natural nutrients that will help develop a healthier and better lasting digestive system.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour is similar to brown rice; it’s a grain that has its bran and germ preserved. White flour, which is what most people use, have had their bran and germ removed that, just as with white rice. This means that whole wheat has significantly higher amounts of fiber per serving, which helps to move waste through your digestive system. This allows your gut microbiome to be free of toxins that might weaken any healthy bacteria living there.
Baking with whole wheat can create different flavors and textures than white flour. The whole wheat shells and husks that contain all that nutrition also cut the gluten strands between the wheat, which makes the final process less doughy. As well, its darker color causes the final product to have less of that golden glow. If you’re still looking for that doughy taste, you could always substitute half of the requested flour with whole wheat flour. However, using whole wheat flour as a complete substitute for white flour will definitely benefit your gut health more.
You’re probably wondering why black beans are in the baking substitution area and not the cooking part. Well, apparently, you can substitute flour for ground black beans! While the proteins and fiber found in whole wheat grains are great, using black beans instead offers a different way to vary the types of protein you’re eating.
It sounds odd, but check out this recipe for black bean brownies. They bake and taste great! As well, you’re avoiding using a typical all-purpose flour, which is what usually comes in prepackaged brownie mixes. Not only is all-purpose flour not nutritionally-dense, it’s also heavy in calories, meaning you’re getting less nutrition for more energy.
Small Substitutions, Big Impacts For Gut Health
When we make healthy choices for our body, it’s able to create healthy solutions. Our gut is important for our nutritional health; it’s where foods are digested and distributed throughout our body. We couldn’t possibly absorb the proper nutrients without good gut health. So let’s make sure that we make choices that give it the ability to do its job well.