Keeping the gut healthy is not something that many people focus on or even think about. If that describes you, it’s time that you start giving it more attention. Your gastrointestinal tract is incredibly important to body health at every level, including mental and even emotional well being. The primary role of the gut is in breaking down nutrients for the body’s absorption.
If your gut health is problematic, you may experience various digestive issues, including chronic heartburn, GERD, abdominal pain, and acid reflux.
Are the foods you’re eating helping you keep your gut healthy? Some essential vitamins and minerals will keep your gut in better shape for optimal nutrient absorption and utilization. Here are a few to look for.
Your gastrointestinal tract is full of functional microbes that are responsible for various processes. These include digestion – food break down, absorption, and utilization of essential nutrients in your diet. Vitamin B12 helps rebalance the bacteria in your gut and support the system in breaking down food by producing digestive enzymes.
Vitamin B12 also helps ensure that bad bacteria numbers do not exceed the good bacteria. If the bad bacteria become excessive, you will experience digestion problems, abdominal pain, and/or diarrhea.
Eggs, fish, meat, yogurt, and liver are some of the best sources of vitamin B12.
Iron is a mineral that helps treat inflammation in your gut lining through an anti-inflammatory bacterial metabolite. It supports good bacterial growth and fights high levels of bad bacteria. Iron deficiency can lead to inflammation, which causes discomfort, poor nutrient absorption, as well as diarrhea.
Some of the best iron-rich foods you can include in your diet are brown rice, peanut butter, shrimp, lentils, beef, and eggs.
Your body produces iron in a minimal dosage, which means eating iron-rich foods and supplementation at times may become necessary. Vitamin C is what helps your body make the most out of the iron that you ingest. This vitamin aids in the proper absorption of iron by reducing iron inhibitors, such as tannins and phytates.
Vitamin C also reduces damages to the lining of your gastrointestinal tract caused by free radicals. It acts as an antioxidant that regenerates your cells and protects them from further damage. As such, it helps keep your intestinal lining free of fissures and inflammation.
Citrus fruits, pineapple, broccoli, and green peppers are sources rich in vitamin C.
Zinc is another critical mineral for digestion, activating digestive enzymes that are integral in the process of breaking down foods. It also helps strengthen the lining of your gut wall, which stops bacteria slipping into a damaged lining and causing inflammation. Zinc aids in the healing process, and also in keeping a balanced bacterial level in the gut.
Food sources include corn, broccoli, almonds, lentils, beef, and oysters.
Selenium is a mineral you don’t hear much about, but it plays an integral role in keeping your body functioning properly. Free radicals that can damage your gut can lead to inflammation and cracks in the intestinal lining. When it comes to gut health, selenium acts as an antioxidant, protecting and healing your cells from oxidative stress from free radicals.
In addition, selenium enhances your gut’s inflammatory response. When you have a selenium deficiency, your body typically has trouble handling stress.
You can find selenium in chicken, tuna, pork, whole-wheat pasta, and tofu.
Vitamin D is another essential component of a healthy gut. It keeps inflammation at bay by targeting and neutralizing the source of inflammation and calming down the nervous system response. Vitamin D can also keep a healthy balance between the good and bad bacteria in the gut through encouraging the creation of anti-microbial molecules called ‘defensins.’ Studies have shown that high levels of vitamin D can reduce the risk of colon cancer.
The best source of vitamin D is exposure to the sun, but it can also be found in fish, orange juice, fortified milk, mushrooms, and eggs.
Maintaining a healthy gut is incredibly important to ensure that your body gets the most nutrition from the foods that you eat. The above-mentioned vitamins and minerals are essential in keeping your gut healthy, so make sure that you are monitoring what you eat to provide the nutrition it needs.