What does your typical breakfast look like? A slice of heavily-buttered toast? A bowl of Cheerios perhaps?
Whatever it is, there are likely two things you prioritise when whipping up your first meal of the day: that it’s quick to make, and will satisfy your hunger until lunch.
But there is one more vital element of breakfast food which many people ignore. And that’s gut health.
Healthy guts help to regulate everything from the digestive system (they help to absorb nutrients) to the immune system (a healthy microbiome prevents toxic-forming carcinogens from entering the body). It can even control hunger pangs; this is what’s known as the gut-brain connection.
So, how can you make sure you’re boosting your gut flora during your first meal?
To see which breakfast foods are essential for gut health, take a look, below.
If flaxseed were cycling for Team Gut Health, it would be wearing the yellow jersey.
Packed with soluble fibre (the most crucial ingredient for gut health), flaxseed is the ideal inhabitant for a healthy microbiome. In fact, recent studies have found that flaxseeds ferment in the gut, leading to improved beneficial fatty acids and reduced gut inflammation.
Add on top of smoothie bowls or sprinkle over seeded wholemeal bread to boost fibre and healthy fat intake.
You’ll have heard about the benefits of probiotics for a healthy gut – and kefir is one of the best natural sources of the stuff.
Promoting diverse microbial colonies, kefir (a cultured milk drink) helps to restore the balance of bacteria in the gut. The good bacteria released during consumption helps to offset digestive and immune issues, like stomach cramps and the common cold.
Work this tangy probiotic into your morning routine by pouring over porridge or as a base for a breakfast smoothie.
Related: What is Kefir? | 7 Reasons You Need to Try It
There is much more to bananas than potassium – they’re packed with pectin, too. Pectin is an essential nutrient for gut health as it moderates blood sugars (and, so, controls cortisol levels throughout the morning) while giving the gut a generous dose of fibre.
To get the most from your morning bananas, ensure they’re not quite ripe yet (you shouldn’t be able to see any brown spots). When bananas are ripened, they decrease in pectin and increase in naturally-occurring sugars.
4. Peanut butter
After overnight fasting, the gut needs to be woken up. The best way to do this is with monounsaturated fats. These type of fats have been found to support cell health and reduce gut inflammation.
peanut butter is packed with monounsaturated fats. This is fantastic for breakfast, when the gut lining is at its most vulnerable, as the human body’s preferred metabolic state is to burn through fat for energy (not sugar, or carbs).
Enjoy a spoonful or two of 100% natural peanut butter with an unripe banana to give yourself a healthy dose of fat, protein and pectin.
The fibre and water in raspberries help to maintain a healthy digestive tract while simultaneously providing a hospitable environment for gut microbes to flourish. In fact, the fibre content is some of the most of any fruit (8g per cup; this is more than one-third of a woman’s RDA fibre).
Some types of raspberries are also better for gut health than others. Generally speaking, the darker the raspberry, the kinder they are to the gut. Black raspberries, for instance, have been shown to reduce inflammation in people with metabolic syndromes, like high blood pressure.
How to maintain a healthy gut
- Opt for high fibre, low sugar, high fat foods for breakfast to boost heart, brain and digestive health.
- If in doubt, look for colourful foods. These will offer the greatest diversity of nutrients. To double down on the nutrients, opt for plant-based foods, like nuts and vegetables.
- ‘Bad gut’ foods can offset a healthy microbiome. Meat, junk food and eggs stunt the variety of microbes, to name a few.
- Don’t give up. The human body creates a new microbiota every 24 hours, so you can transform your gut health literally overnight.