By Jill Levy
While the term “superfoods” means different things to different people, it generally describes nutrient-rich foods and ingredients that are considered to be especially supportive of overall health, healthy immune system function and even mental well-being.
Whether we’re talking about certain herbs, berries, leafy greens, fermented foods or bone broth — superfoods for gut health are beneficial because they help to support an overall healthy gut lining and a healthy balance of microbes in the gut. Many are also brimming with compounds such as antioxidants, amino acids, and essential vitamins and minerals that we must acquire from our diets.
At Ancient Nutrition, we believe in the power of superfoods for gut health because we’ve seen firsthand how an “ancestral” type of diet can help to promote healthy digestion, a healthy immune system and much more.
In fact, our mission is to help people with their health goals, and also to give back to the planet, with the help of various superfoods including probiotics and mushrooms. One way we do this is via regenerative agriculture, in which we often grow our own functional foods that are used to create health-promoting supplements, while at the same time supporting the environment.
1. Probiotic/Fermented Foods
Fermented foods, which contain healthy bacteria and other microbes, have long been a part of traditional diets around the world. Examples of such superfoods include yogurt, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut, which have been consumed for thousands of years and originated in locations spanning the planet such as Korea and Eastern Europe.
The reason that probiotic foods are superfoods for gut health is because of how they boost the presence of good bacteria in your gut to promote healthy digestion and immune system function.
To consume more probiotics from your diet, try adding yogurt or kefir to your smoothies, or sauerkraut to sandwiches and salads.
Another way to boost your probiotic intake is to supplement with soil-based organism (SBO) probiotics that can be taken in capsule form with water each morning.
These hardy probiotics are the same types naturally found in the dirt and on fruits and veggies; they help promote healthy bowel function and help maintain healthy gut microflora. Plus, they’re useful for reducing occasional constipation, gas and bloating.
2. Bone Broth
Bone broth (BB) is made by simmering the bones and connective tissue of animals such as cattle, fish or chicken with herbs and vegetables. This creates a nutrient-filled stock that is full of collagen, amino acids and important minerals.
What makes bone broth a superfood for digestion? The amino acids (the building blocks of protein) found within BB help maintain the structure and function of many different body parts, including the lining of your organs and gastrointestinal tract.
A strong and healthy gut lining translates to overall healthy gut function, nutrient absorption and even support for a healthy immune system (since the majority of your immune system is located inside your gut).
Bone Broth Protein powder is a convenient, versatile and easy way to reap the benefits of traditionally made BB in a fraction of the time. Our BBP formulas, which come in both sweet and savory flavors, contain 19 amino acids to help promote a healthy gut lining integrity and are formulated from non-GMO, pasture-raised and grass-fed, raised without hormones, cage-free and cruelty-free.
3. Organic SuperGreens Powder
Leafy greens and herbs are some of the best sources of antioxidants and vitamins like vitamins C, K and A, as well as folate, magnesium and calcium.
We know that it’s important to eat greens to help provide us with compounds that promote healthy aging, plus they can help supply us with antioxidants that promote the health of the lining of the digestive tract, support healthy kidney and liver function and provide fiber that “feeds” probiotics in the gut.
Because eating lots of fresh greens daily isn’t always easy, a powdered green supplement can come in handy. Within Ancient Nutrition’s Organic SuperGreens powder, you’ll find superfoods for overall health like wheatgrass, spirulina, beatroot, oat grass and more as well as probiotics for gut health.
These ingredients offer iron, calcium, chlorophyll, fiber and even some fatty acids that contribute to overall healthy connective tissue and a healthy gut lining.
4. Collagen Powder
Collagen is a type of protein that is naturally found in bone broth, as well as in collagen powder supplements which provide a more concentrated amount of beneficial amino acids like glycine, proline and arginine.
Collagen aids in a healthy gut by promoting a healthy gut lining and by promoting healthy connective tissue, plus it can help support nutrient absorption. It may also help with the absorption of water within the intestines, keeping things moving more freely out of the body to assist in elimination.
Ancient Nutrition's Multi Collagen Protein is created from four real food sources: beef, chicken, fish and eggshell membrane. It contains multiple types of collagen to provide bodywide benefits, plus it’s sustainably sourced and free of added sugar, fillers or other additives.
Flaxseed is loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that can help promote a healthy response to inflammation.
Flax, in addition to other seeds like chia and hemp, are also a great source of fiber, which is needed to promote normal elimination and bowel movements and reduce occasional constipation and diarrhea.
Additionally, flax and many other seeds feature nutrients like thiamine, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese, plus contain a hearty helping of plant-based protein.
You can reap the benefits of flaxseed by adding some to homemade baked goods, oatmeal, granola or smoothies.
Coconut flakes and coconut oil are both high in medium-chain triglycerides, which are beneficial fatty acids that are typically easy to digest and can support gut health.
Coconut oil contains certain antioxidant properties and provides an easy source of fat and energy for the body to absorb and utilize. Coconut flakes/meat/flour on the other hand is high in fiber, which assists in digestion and elimination.
Be sure to use extra virgin coconut oil that has not been refined when cooking and baking. Try coconut flakes or flour in healthy homemade baked goods, granola, or as a coating for meat and fish.
Ginger is an herb that’s native to Southeast Asia that has been revered in traditional herbalism for thousands of years, especially when it comes to supporting healthy digestion.
Ginger contains a specific compound called gingerol, which is thought to be responsible for its multitude of health benefits, such as helping to soothe the stomach and bolster the appetite. It also contains many antioxidants that can help promote a healthy inflammation response and support healthy immune system function.
Ginger can be used fresh or dried, whether you’re cooking it or having it raw. Try adding some to smoothies, salad dressings, sauces, sautees and stir-fries, or making ginger herbal tea.
Other than those mentioned above, other superfoods for digestion and gut health include:
- Foods high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, mango, kiwi and bell peppers
- Salmon and other fatty fish
- Healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocado
- Turmeric, cinnamon, basil and other herbs and spices
As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to starting any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including supplementation.
Jill Levy has been with the Dr. Axe and Ancient Nutrition team for five years. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University, followed by a certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jill takes a “non-diet” approach to health and really enjoys teaching others about mindful eating, intuitive eating and the benefits of eating real foods.