Healthy gut, healthy body. It may surprise you to learn that most of your immune system - about 75 to 80 percent—lies in your gut
'We know antibodies that help fight disease are all processed and made in the belly,' says Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, author of The 21-Day Belly Fix. 'If your gut health goes downhill, your immune levels go down, too.'
That's why it's especially important to maintain healthy microbiome, or the diverse array of bacteria that live within us. Humans have living bacteria both in the gut as well as the brain. (Some of it is just there and other come from the foods we consume.) If this bacteria become unhealthy and unbalanced, it can lead to inflammation, digestive issues and weight gain. But it's not too late to correct these issues in order to promote weight loss.
Here are 15 expert-approved foods that help heal your gut.
Yes, bread, though we're not talking about the store-bought, processed kind that has a bad rap,' says Dr. Tasneem. 'Homemade or freshly made bread from a bakery, fermented for a while and made with active cultures, has many anti-inflammatory properties.'
Try it: Buy a fresh loaf from a local bakery and use it to make a sandwich.
You've probably heard that a glass of red wine a day is good for you, and that's true, if the bottle has had time to ferment. 'If it ferments over time, it can contain healthy bacteria for the gut,' explains Dr Tasneem.
Try it: Enjoy an eight-ounce glass of red wine with dinner.
This diet has taken the Internet by storm. You don't want a processed stock, as it won't have the benefits you're looking for. Instead, opt for some that has been made from meat on the bone stewing for hours. 'It has a great range of bacteria in it to heal the gut,' says Dr Tasneem.
Try it: Slow cook a rotisserie chicken for hours while you're out for the day. The chicken (and the nutrient-rich broth) will be ready for dinner when you return. Save the broth to use throughout the week.
This ingredient is packed with medium-chain triglycerides, also known as good fatty acids. 'These slow down the digestive process and help balance gut microbiome,' says Dr. Tasneem.
Try it: Put half a tablespoon into a smoothie or spread it on a rice cake.
Try it: Place two eggs into boiling water for 10 to 12 minutes. Bring the hard-boiled eggs to work as an afternoon snack.
You might think these high-fat snacks couldn't possibly help with weight loss, but you're wrong. 'Almonds have lots of healthy fats and are also a good source of vitamin E,' says Dr Tasneem. Plus they're rich in fibre, which helps feed the good gut bacteria.
Try it: Soak a handful (it makes it easier to digest) and pack them in a Ziploc bag for lunch.
Not all oil is bad. In fact, olive oil helps with inflammation and can lower both LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels, thanks to its omega-9 count, explains Dr. Tasneem. 'Just be sure not to heat it because that causes it to lose its anti-inflammatory properties.'
Try it: Sprinkle a tablespoon over your salad or drizzle some on bread.
The easiest way to increase your anti-inflammatory fats: switch red meat for salmon as much as possible,' reads a line in Dr. Mullin's book, The Gut Balance Revolution. Salmon is high in omega-3s, which are directly involved in stopping bloating. Go for wild varieties whenever possible.
Try it: Drizzle a fillet with olive oil, wrap it in tin foil, and bake it in the over for 20 minutes.
Spinach may reduce blood pressure and can also promote eye health, Dr Mullin explains in his book. Plus, it has many antioxidants and has even been said to help fight cancer.
Try it: Use it as the base for a chopped salad for lunch or dinner.
Look for a variety with live, active cultures. 'If made properly, yogurt can really help repopulate good bacteria that you need to fight and prevent disease and maintain a healthy weight,' says Dr. Mullin.
Try it: Buy a single serving from the grocery store and enjoy for breakfast.