Have you ever wondered what you can do to support your gut microbes as they help you thrive? This may seem like a daunting task, but we assure you, it can be as easy as eating your favorite plant-based foods to your current routine. The most important first step you can try to take to support your gut’s balance and movement (AKA motility) is to eat foods containing fiber. The recommended intake of dietary fiber is about 25 grams per day. Unfortunately, most people don’t meet that recommendation and are only consuming an average of 15 grams of fiber per day.
Soluble Vs. Insoluble Fiber
Many people think of kale and apples when thinking of fiber, roughage to bulk stool and push things out. Did you know there are two main types of fiber- soluble and insoluble? Soluble fiber absorbs water and will act as a mop in your intestines. Soluble fiber is also fermented in your large intestine because it is resistant to digestion. This fermentation feeds your good gut bugs as well as creates short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) which are essential to your gut health as well. SCFAs are gifts our gut microbes give to us when we feed them plentiful fiber and take care of them. These SCFAs help decrease inflammation, activate the release of satiety hormones (the hormones that tell you when you’re full), and maintain the health of your gut’s epithelial lining cells, support your cholesterol levels, your blood pressure, and so much more.
Insoluble fiber can’t be dissolved in water, so instead of getting fluffed up by water like soluble fiber, it stays rough and acts like a broom to sweep out your intestines and increase stool weight, thus helping you go.
Need help incorporating more fiber into your diet? These foods have a great mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber:
Fruits We suggest you regularly eat fruits that contain a nice blend of soluble and insoluble fiber
Slightly Green Banana
Vegetables Root veggies are a great source of soil-based nutrients; starchy squash, roots and tubers are full of gut-nurturing starches; and gooey veggies help heal the mucus lining of the intestinal tract
Potato Varieties: yams, sweet, purple, russet
Squash: Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Dumpling, Kabocha, Pumpkin, Spaghetti, zucchini
Yucca/ Cassava Root
Nuts & Seeds Nuts and seeds are great plant proteins that also come loaded with a variety of types of fiber.
Hemp Seed Butter
Sunflower Seed Butter
Pumpkin Seed Butter
Whole Grains Whole grains contain a great mix of soluble and insoluble fiber, iron, and minerals to support the gut
Soaked Legumes Legumes are a powerhouse of good gut iron, fiber, starch to feed microbes, and so much more! Quickly boil, soak, then sprout them to digest them better!
Here’s one of our favorite recipes for a plant-based breakfast that is also a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber!
Banana Pancakes (4 servings)
2 bananas, slightly green for the most resistant starch
2 cups oat flour
¾ cup coconut flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp vanilla protein powder or Gut Nurture
¾ cup apple sauce
2 cups unsweetened plant-based milk
2 tsp cinnamon
8 medjool dates
Optional: ½ cup green banana flour or ½ cup buckwheat flour
Optional: 2 ½ cups spinach
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (all flours, baking soda, and cinnamon).
In a blender, blend the wet ingredients (bananas, vanilla extract or powder, applesauce, and plant-based milk).
Add the dry mix and remaining ingredients (dates and spinach) to the blender with the wet ingredients
Mix together and add more milk if needed to achieve batter consistency.
Heat your pan or griddle.
Add ¼ cup of the batter to your heated cooktop.
Flip once pancakes start to bubble on the top.
Serve with fresh or frozen berries, nut or seed butter, hemp seeds, chia seeds, or apples.
Heal with each meal!
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Joanne L. Slavin, Beate Lloyd, Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 3, Issue 4, July 2012, Pages 506–516, https://doi.org/10.3945/an.112.002154
Joanne L. Slavin, Carbohydrates, Dietary Fiber, and Resistant Starch in White Vegetables: Links to Health Outcomes, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 4, Issue 3, May 2013, Pages 351S–355S, https://doi.org/10.3945/an.112.003491
Rinninella, E., Cintoni, M., Raoul, P., Lopetuso, L. R., Scaldaferri, F., Pulcini, G., Miggiano, G., Gasbarrini, A., & Mele, M. C. (2019). Food Components and Dietary Habits: Keys for a Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition. Nutrients, 11(10), 2393. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102393