How to Shop for Gut Health: Guide to Reducing Bloating and Other IBS Symptoms
If you've been struggling with bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, or other IBS symptoms, it may be time to take a closer look at your diet.
Some foods are more gut-friendly than others, and by making a few simple changes you may be able to reduce your symptoms significantly.
If you're one of the estimated 15 percent of who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), then you know that bloating, gas, wind, abdominal pain and cramps, feeling sluggish and tired, constipation and/or diarrhoea or changes in bowel habit can be a real challenge.
While there is no one-size-fits-all, we do know that you can make good gut choices to help avoid some of your IBS symptoms.
In this guide, we'll discuss how to shop for gut health and introduce more gut-friendly foods into your diet.
Of course if you have any known IBS trigger foods, intolerances or allergies then it can make it harder to find a range of choices.
One important way to help support gut health is through your diet. By eating more of the right kinds of foods and fewer of the wrong kinds, you can make a big difference in how you feel. Here are some tips for shopping for gut health.
Shop fresh - look for variety of colour
An easy way to get started is to think about the colour of foods you're eating. The more colourful the better. Our eyes are hard-wired to be naturally attracted to brightly coloured foods with the rainbow, here's some tips to get more colour in your meals.
- Red fruit and vegetables include: strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries, tomatoes, apples, kidney beans
- Orange fruit and vegetables include: carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots and pistachios
- Yellow fruit and vegetables include: lemons and other citrus fruits, pineapples or mangoes
- Green fruit and vegetables include: broccoli or cauliflower (both great for bloating), spinach leaves or kale, peas (great source of plant-based protein)
- Blue and purple fruit and vegetables include: blackberries, blueberries, grapes, plums, aubergine.
So aim to have as many different coloured foods on your plate as possible each day - you'll be getting a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will help support the gut.
These kinds of foods help support gut health because they contain natural fibre which is food for the good bacteria in your gut. It also helps to keep you feeling full so that you're not overeating.
Shop local and organic if you can
If you live in an area that supports local farmers, don't miss the opportunity to incorporate their fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet!
Eating more fresh foods is a great way to support gut health because they contain lots of vitamins and minerals which will keep your body running well and help improve bloating. They also often have less sugar than processed foods.
Although it can be a bit more expensive, try to opt for organically-produced foods whenever possible.
Organic foods are less likely to contain pesticides and artificial fertilisers which may negatively impact your gut health. They also often have higher levels of antioxidants than conventional food. Consider buying organic versions of fresh fruits and vegetables such as berries, apples, and leafy greens.
Prebiotic and Probiotics foods
Get that good bacteria. Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria) that can help the gut, they're found in foods such as kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and yoghurt. Prebiotics are foods that contain fibres that help the good bacteria grow in your gut which can be found in bananas, raw onions, garlic, and leeks.
Including probiotics and prebiotics in your diet can help to improve gut health, bloating and other IBS symptoms. You can either eat these as part of a meal or take a supplement if you find it difficult to get them through food.
Choose fermentable fibres
Choose high-fibre foods. Fibre is important for gut health because it helps keep things moving through your digestive system. Good sources of fibre include fruits and vegetables (especially those with edible skins or seeds), whole grains, legumes such as lentils or beans, nuts and seeds.
Make sure you're getting the right kind of fibre too! There are two types that you should be aware of: soluble fibres which dissolve in water and insoluble fibres which do not.
Including fermentable fibres in your diet is a great way to support gut health. These are the types of fibre that our gut bacteria love! Some good sources include oats, legumes, bananas, and flaxseed. Try to include at least one of these in your diet each day.
Go for whole grains
Whole grains contain more fibre than refined ones, which is great news if bloating and constipation are issues for you! When shopping for bread, pasta and other products made from flour, choose those that say "whole wheat" or "whole grain.
Adding a bacteria-based food supplement can help keep your gut healthy or help you after you've taken antibiotics or had stomach upset. If you're asking what the best probiotic for gut health might be, before buying any supplement, you should choose one that has clinical studies and is designed to support your digestive needs.
There are many different types of pro- pre and now postbiotic supplements on the market, so it's important to find one that is right for you. Take a bit of time to do your research and read the reviews.
Reducing bloating is also about mindful eating
When it comes to gut health, there isn't always just one answer - like with most things, a varied and balanced diet is key. Small good choices daily can make a big difference.
Many people with IBS also track their food intake in a food diary to help them pinpoint what any foods or other factors that that trigger their symptoms.
To improve your long term gut health, you can take quick fixes but longer term improvement need a longer term approach.