Just as you must keep your bones and muscles in top shape to perform well in sports, you must also pay attention to your digestive health. Otherwise, you risk compromising your immune system and missing the nutrients you need from food—which will definitely slow you down.
Healthy adults carry up to five pounds of bacteria in their digestive tract. We need those bacteria to make vitamin K and biotin, complete digestion, and fight "bad" bacteria and viruses. Eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fermented foods will keep the good bacteria going strong. You'll be healthier, stronger and happier.
Here are some of the best foods for digestive health.
Probiotics are live microorganisms, mostly bacteria and yeast, often referred to as "live active cultures" or "fermented foods." When you consume probiotics, they travel through your digestive system and become part of the trillions of gut bacteria.
- Eat yogurt as a snack. Top with berries and nuts for a nutrition boost.
- Try new Great Grains Digestive Blend cereals for breakfast, which has active cultures to support digestive health.
- Sip kefir, a cultured milk product that tastes like drinkable yogurt. If you can't do dairy, try cultured coconut milk and yogurt.
- If you're not a fan of fermented foods, try easing your way into them. Familiar favorites include pickles and sauerkraut. Any food that's "pickled" is fermented.
- But don't stop there. Move on to more adventurous fermented foods like miso, kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage) and tempeh (fermented tofu).
Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are non-living substances in the form of non-digestible carbohydrates that encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria living in your gut. Think of prebiotics as the food that feeds the "good bacteria" in your gut. Prebiotic-rich foods include bananas, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus and dandelion greens.
- Add bananas to your cereal, yogurt parfait, or pre-workout fuel with peanut butter or almond butter.
- Cook with garlic, onions, and leeks to add flavor to your dishes, and sauté them with asparagus or dandelion greens.