The first question that pops into everyone’s mind when someone says - they are vegan is “where do they get their protein?” There is a lot of emphasis on the ‘cannot’ part of Veganism. There is a common misconception that the vegan lifestyle is restrictive and requires denying yourself tasty and nutritious food groups. On the contrary, making plants the centre of your meals opens up gazillion possibilities of a wide range of vegetables. Did you know that there are 40,000 varieties of beans?
Transitioning into a vegan lifestyle is not only a tremendous change for you but also for your gut. Vegan nutrition involves a variety of legumes, whole grains, fruit and vegetables that are rich in probiotics, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. There is abundant evidence that plant-based foods foster greater microbial diversity (1). Your gut is the body core’s disease-fighting system. Here’s a list of vegan foods to strengthen your gut health. .
1. Pick Anti-inflammatory Foods
Your aching stomach might have something to do with a” leaky gut.” This happens when the lining of your intestine weakens and the bacteria leaks out into your body. These mischievous acts from your good bacteria can trigger a chain reaction leading to inflammation, bloating and cramps. High sugar intake can also trigger your intestinal walls to break.
A plant-based diet is high in fibre - vegetables, nuts, grains, fruits and seeds are some staple ingredients you could include in your diet. Key groups like whole grains, legumes, and complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes can be an excellent addition. Break the popular narrative of restricting your sugar and replace them with healthier alternatives like stevia and jaggery.
2.Seek Out The Right Kind Of Veggies And Fruits
One of the common gut issues is IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. Many have fallen victim to painful bloating, constipation and gas by overstressing themselves and making poor food choices that are high in fermented carbohydrates. The good news is although we are probably not going to stop worrying ourselves to sickness any time soon, we can, however, ease its symptoms by choosing the right vegetables.
Vegetables low in fermentable carbohydrates include - cucumber, broccoli, beans and pulses, green peas, bell pepper, carrot, butternut squash, lettuce, sprouts, tomato, ginger, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, turnip, chives and olives.
Fresh fruits low in fermentable carbohydrates include - Banana, grapefruits, oranges, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, honeydew melon and lemon.
Certain forms of carbohydrates too can aggravate your IBS. avoiding foods that are high in fermentable carbohydrates can be helpful to your gut. Stay away from pastries, gnocchi, wheat noodles, coffee, nuts, barley and rye foods. If all these eliminating diets are making your head spin, fret not, there are still a lot of carbs you can enjoy like, gluten-free bread and pasta, rice, millets buckwheat, quinoa, oats, flax seeds, sabudana, and everyone’s favourite - potatoes.
4. Drink Plant-Based Milk
Lactose intolerant individuals experience a lot of discomfort in the gut. Being vegan might be a great win-win solution, where you can have your ice creams and dairy products without dealing with digestive issues. The kind of sugar found in cow’s milk is the root of your lactose intolerance. You are not alone about 60 to 70% of people around the globe are lactose intolerant.
Some of the plant-based dairy options to explore would be almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, cashew milk, hemp milk and soya milk.
5. Meat Swap
Swapping your meat with beans can be an ally to the bug world in your gut. There is a strong connection between intake of processed food to colon issues. All the arrows point to the fact that high processed meat consumption can lead to inflammation in the colon, it can even lead to chronic illnesses.
Consider options like beans, legumes and mock meat to replace your processed meat. These are high in vitamins, minerals and can stimulate the synthesis of propionate - a kind of short-chain fatty acid that is good for your gut bacteria. Protein and iron are not only found in meat but also in other plant-based foods like tofu, lentils, chickpeas, seitan, yeast and many more.
6.Include Fermented Foods
The universe of good bacteria, fungi and viruses are located in the cecum, which is in the large intestine. Although these bacteria are not as pretty as the milky way they are the nucleus of our holistic well being. They hold the remote to our immune system, nutrition and even the central nervous system. We run into trouble when the balance between the good and bad are disturbed.
The best way to give back up to your good bacteria is through the addition of fermented foods. Treat yourself to a spoonful of good bacteria through probiotics. Pickled vegetables, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, sourdough bread, miso, nut-based milk, and yoghurt. If you are too lazy to cook these foods, you can always fall back on vegan probiotic supplements.
One of the most simple yet effective ways to keep your gut happy is by changing your mindset. There is a plate full of evidence of the unbreakable association between the gut and the brain. You can read all about it here. The health of your brain has a major impact on your gut and vice versa. Those butterflies you feel in your stomach when you are stressed out are because of this trait. You can keep the bug world happy by keeping your stress levels down. The gut microbe affects your mental state too. The brain foods you choose at the dinner table can steer your microbes in the right direction.
Taking control of your gut health through veganism is not so complicated. Eating a balanced diet full of high fibre and fermented foods is a quick fix to your digestive issues. You can also ensure the well-being of your gut by keeping your stress levels down and avoiding processed foods.