Recent research has determined that a healthy gut is not only important for digestion, but also for overall well-being. Studies have linked gut health to beneficial effects on the immune system, mental health, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, cardiovascular disease, and even certain cancers.
According to Eat This, Not That!, the gut is often referred to as our “second brain” because the system of nerves and neurotransmitters along our digestive tract communicate with their kin in the brain. That’s why we often “go with our gut” when making important decisions.
Here are some beverages that boost the beneficial bacteria in the gut to help restore health and balance in our bodies:
• Kefir. Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that has a tangy taste. It’s a powerful probiotic that helps balance the gut’s microbiome. Kefir is an ideal beverage for people who are lactose intolerant because the bacteria and yeast have already broken down the starch and sugar in the milk during the fermentation process. Dietitian Marie Spano adds that people who have difficulty digesting protein, like those with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and the elderly, will find the peptides in kefir easier to digest. “These easy-to-absorb chains of amino acids may make kefir ideal for those who have a more difficult time digesting protein,” she says.
• Matcha tea. One of the most researched teas for gut health is matcha tea, which contains a high concentration of a potent polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that enhances the gut microbiome. Other beneficial brews include black and green tea, chamomile, ginger with turmeric and holy basil.
• Kombucha. A recent review of 15 studies found that consuming kombucha reduces the imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the intestines and may also be beneficial for treating obesity, says Eat This, Not That! According to Healthline, this fermented tea is rich in polyphenols and acetic acid which have both been shown to suppress the growth of undesirable bacteria and yeast.
• Water. Water helps to keep things moving though our digestive system and helps us absorb nutrients from the foods we eat. Experts add that the more fiber we consume, the more water we should drink. Fiber draws water into the bowel, which can cause dehydration.
• Bone broth. According to Verywell Health, researchers have just begun identifying the positive health benefits of slow-simmered bone broth and gut health. Broth made from the bones and connective tissues of chicken, cattle, and other animals contains glycine, gelatin, glutamine, and collagen, which support a healthy gut microbiome. “Collagen helps to nourish the intestinal lining, and gelatin is able to absorb water and help maintain the layer of mucus that keeps gut microbes away from the intestinal lining,” explains Samantha Presicci, a registered dietitian at FOND Bone Broth. “Glutamine may also help with conditions like leaky gut by supporting proper digestion of all the foods you eat — because you aren’t just what you eat—you are what you absorb.”
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