Repairing your gut is one of the most important steps to take in your autoimmune journey. It will not only improve your ability to absorb nutrients, it will also support your inflammatory response and immune system. By replacing toxic and inflammatory foods with nutrient-rich options that help proper digestion and absorption, you can drastically improve your nutrient intake and take back control of your health.
There are plenty of gut-repairing foods that you can incorporate into your diet in fun and delicious ways. My cookbook, “The Autoimmune Solution Cookbook,” features recipes that include a number of these gut-friendly foods, and there are tons of diet-friendly recipes on my blog that are free for you to enjoy.
Let’s take a look at some of the best foods that you should be eating to help repair your gut.
1. Bone Broth
Bone broth is at the top of my list as one of the most important foods to repair your gut. Bone broth contains gelatin and collagen, two superstars for supporting a healthy mucosal lining, proper digestion, and intestinal function. Glucosamine in bone broth assists in repairing a leaky gut by supporting a healthy inflammatory response and stimulating the growth of new gut cells.1 Bone broth contains amino acids like glycine and glutamine that aid digestion and promotes gut health.
Bone broth from leftover beef bones or chicken bones is easy to make in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. Many companies produce ready-made bone broth. These are perfect when you don’t have the time to whip up your own batch. Drink bone broth for a simple way to reap many health benefits.
Coconut products of all kinds, including oil, cream, and yogurt, are antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral, which makes them extremely helpful when dealing with SIBO, Candida overgrowth and parasites. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut aid in nutrient absorption. They’ve also been shown to be particularly beneficial for managing gastrointestinal disorders. Coconut yogurt comes with the added bonus of probiotics to encourage the growth of good bacteria in your gut.
Mint has been used medicinally for thousands of years, since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Peppermint is a hybrid of water mint and spearmint. It has antispasmodic properties that make it ideal for relievingirritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other GI discomforts. The cooling menthol in peppermint relaxes the intestinal tract, reducing the pain, gas, and constipation associated with IBS just as effectively as prescription antispasmodics.
I like to use mint in smoothies and tea for a bright, refreshing, and nutritional burst of flavor. It’s also tasty in leafy green summer salads.
Fiber is essential for digestive health. Getting enough fiber in your diet helps prevent gut-related maladies, including constipation and diverticulosis. Recent studies have also shown the power of dietary fiber to reduce systemic inflammation and support a healthy immune response. However, most Americans fall short of the recommended daily amount of fiber intake of 25g for women and 38g for men.
That’s why raspberries earn a place on my list of the most important foods to repair your gut. A single cup of raspberries contains 8g of fiber—roughly a quarter of your daily fiber needs. Research has found that eating raspberries with a meal improves insulin sensitivity and satiety, and increases the amount of a certain type of good bacteria in your gut that is often depleted by conditions such as IBD.
Raspberries make a great addition to smoothies and desserts. You can also try homemade gummy fruit snacks made with raspberry puree and gelatin.
Wild, fatty fish such as salmon are an excellent source of Omega 3’s and Vitamin D. Omega 3’s reduce inflammation and increase healthy gut bacteria. They may also play an important role in reversing chronic gut-related illnesses, including metabolic disorder, obesity, and colorectal cancer. Meanwhile, low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with IBD and colon cancer. Increasing Vitamin D intake dramatically lowers inflammation and promotes the activity of friendly bacteria in your gut. This helps defend against infections such as Salmonella.
When you can, opt-in for wild-caught fish rather than farm-raised fish, and inquire about the source of the fish variety that you purchase. Fish caught from fresh, clean waters is always the best option for your optimal health. To learn more, check out this article for an in-depth comparison between wild-caught and farm-raised fish.
Lemon is high in Vitamin C, an antioxidant that suppresses inflammation and boosts the immune system. It’s also antimicrobial and supports a healthy bacterial balance in your microbiome. Vitamin C also plays a role in the formation of collagen, which is necessary for optimal gut barrier function.
Lemons are naturally detoxifying and help stimulate bile production to aid in digestion. Low bile acid is a risk factor for developing gastrointestinal issues such as SIBO. Lemons also contain pectin, a type of prebiotic fiber. Pectin feeds your good bacteria and decreases the number of bad bacteria in your gut. To get the most benefits from lemon, don’t just squeeze out the juice. Try blending whole, peeled lemons and stirring the puree into your water. Or, toss lemon wedges right into your smoothie!
Also, be sure to check out my recipe for delicious gluten-free Lemon Bars!
The humble ginger root is an age-old remedy for digestive complaints. Ginger is known for its ability to ease nausea and can help relieve symptoms associated with IBS. This includes stomach cramps, gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. It can also prevent heartburn by keeping acid from regurgitating back into the esophagus. Finally, it may kill harmful bacteria linked to acid reflux.
What’s more, ginger can help with nutrient absorption, which is often compromised when you are dealing with a gut infection.17
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar (or “ACV”) is a natural antimicrobial. It can inhibit the growth of a certain type of bacteria that is high in lipopolysaccharides (LPS). These are endotoxins that increase intestinal permeability and cause leaky gut. ACV also helps your body create hydrochloric acid (HCL). Contrary to what you might think, people dealing with GI issues such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux are actually low in stomach acid. Use ACV to naturally increase your body’s level of HCL to aid in digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as support a healthy immune response.
Providing your gut with the essential nutrients it needs to repair itself is the first step in restoring your health, and incorporating these foods into your diet is a great place to start. However, the unfortunate truth is that our nutrient-depleted soil, high-stress lifestyles, and toxic environments make it difficult to get all of our gut-healing nutrients from food alone.