3 probiotic-packed meals to eat for a healthy gut, nutritionist approved

A woman eating a poke bowl.

A poke bowl can be a great gut-friendly meal.Getty

  • To maintain good gut health, focus on fermented foods and fiber, nutritionist Alex Glover said.

  • Incorporate foods like kimchi, yogurt, and whole grains into your diet.

  • Try Glover’s recipes like poke or yogurt granola cups.

Maintaining a healthy gut isn’t solely based on what you eat, but diet plays a key role.

By eating certain foods, we can improve our gut health and in turn our overall health.

Our gut contains 100 trillion live bacteria (weighing in at 2 kg or 4.4 lbs), and the balance of “live bacteria” vs “harmful bacteria” is important, Alex Glover, Senior Nutritionist at Holland & Barrett told Insider.

“70% of our immune cells are thought to be found in our gut, so it’s a really important aspect of health,” he said. “What’s more, some evidence suggests there may be a link between gut health and cognitive function, with more scientific research taking place to fully establish this link.”

This is why the gut is sometimes referred to as the “second brain.”

Foods packed with fiber, like whole grains and brown rice, and fermented foods, like leafy vegetables, can help keep the gut healthy.

Focus on fiber and fermented foods

To improve your gut health, Glover says we should aim to eat 30g of fiber a day and ensure we’re eating a variety of foods to feed the microbiome.

To up your fiber intake, opt for wholegrain and brown versions of foods rather than their white counterparts, for example whole wheat bread over white.

“Look to incorporate fermented foods such as sauerkraut, live yogurt, and polyphenols which are found in all fruits and vegetables, with particularly high levels in dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables and dark-skinned fruits such as blueberries and blackberries,” he said.

Other fermented foods include kimchi, kefir, tempeh, and miso.

Don’t neglect sleep and stress

While eating gut-friendly foods is important, lifestyle plays a role too, and psychological stress can have a detrimental impact on your gut, according to Glover.

“Sleep is also really important, as are your surroundings; spending time in nature exposes people to a range of bacteria which leads to a richer and more diverse microbiome,” he said.

A balanced diet is most nutrition experts’ preferred way to stay healthy, but Glover says you can also take pre-, pro-, and post-biotic supplements to help nourish and complement the natural flora in the gut microbiome.

3 gut-healthy meals to try

To give your gut a boost, Glover recommends the following recipes.

Kimchi poke bowl

A poke bowl with kimchi

A poke bowl with kimchi.Getty

For the poke bowl:

  • 1 tbsp Kimchi

  • 150g (3/4 cup) cooked wholegrain rice

  • 100g (2/3 cup) edamame beans

  • 150g (1 cup of cubed watermelon

  • Handful of radishes

  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into strips

  • 1 avocado, cubed

  • 1 beetroot, cut into small cubes

  • Sesame seeds

For the marinade:

Method:

1. Make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients well in a bowl.

2. Put the watermelon and beetroot in separate bowls and pour over the marinade. Leave for 10 minutes to marinate.

3. To make your poke, first put a layer of wholegrain rice at the bottom of your chosen bowl. Then add the rest of the ingredients in small segments in the bowl.

4. Finish with a spoonful of the kimchi, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and pour the remainder of the marinade from watermelon and beets over the top.

Granola breakfast cups

Granola cups

Granola cups topped with yogurt and berries.Holland and Barrett

Ingredients:

  • 85g (3/8 cup) butter

  • 175g (1 cup) porridge oats

  • 50ml maple syrup

  • ½ tbsp honey

  • 75g (1/2 cup) mixed small seeds

  • 75g (1/2 cup) mixed nuts, finely chopped

  • 40g (1/3 cup) cranberries, chopped

  • ½ tbsp vanilla extract

Topping:

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F.

2. On a baking tray, mix and spread out the oats, seeds, and nuts and bake for 5-10 mins until it starts to turn golden. Remove and combine in a large bowl with the cranberries.

3. Melt the butter with the maple syrup, honey, and vanilla and then stir this through the oats mixture. Mix well until all the mixture is coated and then divide the mixture between a 12-hole muffin tray. Using a tablespoon, press down the mixture until firm and then use a teaspoon make a dip in the middle, working the mixture up the sides of the holes slightly to make a cup.

4. Bake the cups in the oven for 20-25 mins or until the granola is golden and appears crisp (just not wet and soft).

5. Allow the cups to cool for 30 mins in the tin and then remove carefully and cool completely on a wire rack. When they are cooled, fill the cups with Greek yogurt and top with a mix of your favourite chopped fruit.

Miso tempeh, sweet potato, and shiitake mushroom bowl

Tempeh and vegetables

Tempeh and vegetables

A bowl of tempeh with vegetables is a gut healthy meal.Getty

Ingredients:

  • Large sweet potato, diced

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

  • 1 red chili, minced

  • 100g (3/4 cup) fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced

  • Coconut oil

  • Sea salt

  • Pepper

  • ¼ head cauliflower, chopped

  • ¼ broccoli head, chopped

  • 1 red onion, chopped

  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves

For the tempeh marinade:

  • 6 tbsp water

  • 2 tsp miso paste

  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

  • 100g (2/3 cup) tempeh, sliced

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tahini

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 1 tsp beetroot powder

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2. Toss the sweet potato with the oil, cinnamon, chili peppers, and salt. Spread the sweet potatoes on one side of the baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, to make the shiitake bacon, mix the mushrooms with the oil and salt. After the sweet potatoes have baked for 15 – 20 minutes, add the mushrooms to the other side of the baking sheet and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, depending on how crispy you want your shiitake bacon to be.

4. For the veggies, combine the chopped vegetables with the oil in a pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook over low to medium heat for 15 – 20 minutes.

5. To make the tempeh, mix the water, miso paste, and ginger in a bowl. Add the tempeh and let it marinate for a few minutes, then heat the slices in a pan over low to medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes.

6. To make the dressing, mix all of the dressing ingredients using a fork or a whisk.

7. Serve the tempeh with the sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and veggies over the baby spinach and drizzle with the dressing.

Read the original article on Insider