Why Cooking With Functional Foods is Vital to Gut Health
“Functional Food” may not be the most familiar term, but it’s an easy and important concept to understand. For most of us, each food we eat serves many purposes in general nutrition. That salad you have for lunch might serve to:
- Fill you up while adding few calories to your overall daily intake.
- Provide lots of vitamins and nutrients to your diet.
- Giving you energy to make it through the rest of the workday.
- Providing fiber to bring regularity to your digestive system.
Of course, most of us don’t consciously consider all of these factors when we eat our delicious salad. We’re just trying to have a healthy lunch.
However, some people add foods to their diet that perform specific functions, rather than the general functions we get from a well-rounded diet. This is the main drive of supplementation, except that with functional foods, we’re adding whole food ingredients rather than powders, tinctures, distillations, essential oils, or other edible but non-food supplements.
For example, you might add oatmeal to lower your cholesterol, or fatty fish to lower your risk of heart attack. In fact, you probably already eat this way, even without thinking about it too deeply. If you drink coffee in order to experience alertness in the morning, or drink cranberry juice to help with muscle soreness the day after a workout, you’ve already stepped into the world of functional foods.
Functional Foods and Gut Health
But we’re here to talk about functional foods and gut health. What is the connection, and how can we get the best results?
There are three main drivers of gut health, outside of general nutrition from a healthy diet. The first is hydration; without drinking enough water, our gut activity will not be healthy or efficient. The second is fiber; insoluble fiber like MetaFiber is taken mostly by eating plants that the body cannot totally break down, thus providing the structure for our stool. Third, our gut is made healthy by a strong presence of healthy bacteria.
We’ll leave the hydration to you. Water isn’t a food, technically, and everyone knows that one should drink plenty of it. We hope you do! We’ll move on to health options two and three, and see how functional foods can help with these.
For fiber, we’ve got many options. Functional foods like oatmeal, cassava, kale, and many other types of greens can all provide a whole lot of fiber. A great example of fiber is the fibers found in celery. We all know how hard it is to chew these stringy bits. Our digestive systems feel exactly the same way. These bits of plant matter are never completely broken apart in the gut, and thus have to pass in a semi-whole form. We call this fiber “insoluble” because it never completely breaks down into a liquid during digestion. Instead, it stays solid and gives us healthy bowel movements on a regular schedule.
Another element of gut health is gut flora. Healthy bacteria help with digestion and general immunity. If you want to improve your gut health, you can take probiotics like Probiotic Caps Full Spectrum. If a probiotic doesn’t fit your lifestyle, an alternative or additional source of probiotics includes fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi, which provide live bacteria that help colonize your gut microbiome.
All of these examples of functional foods are easily accessible at your grocery store. Try some out today and take note of any progress you observe. Good luck!