How Eating More Plants May Be The Key To Improving Your Gut Health

You've probably heard since you were a small child that you should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, especially broccoli. In fact, you've probably heard this more times than you can count. But now there is scientific evidence that eating a diet filled with plants and whole foods can boost gut health and provide your body with a variety of other benefits (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). From greens to grains to types of fruit, you are likely to see an increase in your gut health when you eat a diet filled with more plant-based items.

According to WebMD, your gut health can affect your entire body and overall health. You've probably heard of your gut microbiome, but just in case you aren't aware of exactly what the term means, your microbiome encompasses all of the healthy fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other forms of microorganisms that make your digest tract their home and help your body turn the food you eat into waste while picking out the beneficial nutrients in your food that will help your body remain in good shape all around. Knowing which foods to choose and why plants are important for keeping your entire body in top shape can help you design meal plans with your gut microbiome in mind. Here's how you can boost your gut health and easily incorporate plants into your diet. 

Variety is the spice of (gut) life

When it comes to your gut health, diversifying the plants you eat and giving your gut microbiome plenty of options to work with is one of the best ways you can increase the overall well-being of your gut (via The Gut Stuff). You may have heard that you should eat a rainbow of colors throughout the week by choosing fruits and vegetables of all colors, but another way to approach your meal planning is to try to eat 30 unique plant-based items each week. This may sound like a lot, but once you know which foods to add to your diet, then it should be smooth sailing.

To begin eating more plants in your diet to boost your gut health, try going step by step. For starters, consider categories of foods that are positively influential on your gut microbiome, like fruits, vegetables, seeds, whole grains, and legumes (via Healthline). Choose foods from these categories of whole foods to pave a path for a plate of plant-based foods. Some of the best items to eat for gut health are beans, chickpeas, and lentils. When it comes to fruit, choose options low in fructose, like raspberries, so you aren't inadvertently consuming more sugar than you intend to. Apples and bananas are also good choices for microbiome variety, as are artichokes, broccoli, and, of course, whole grains. Seeds and nuts, particularly pistachios and almonds, are great for your gut health and make for easy, nutritious snacking.

Polyphenols are powerful

When you eat plants, you're also absorbing polyphenols, per The Gut Stuff, which are found in foods like seeds, vegetables, and even indulgences like dark chocolate. By eating foods rich in polyphenols, like any type of seed sprinkled over a salad of brightly colored vegetables, you are providing your gut, and therefore your whole body, with inflammation-fighting protection. The anti-pathogenic aspects of polyphenols work in conjunction with the anti-inflammatory factors to not only reduce chronic inflammation and increase immunity but also to boost heart health and allow your cardiovascular system to thrive in pumping blood to all areas of your body.

The Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center at Colorado State University recommends foods rich in polyphenols for their antioxidant properties. Eating a diet that includes foods with lots of antioxidants can have numerous upsides, from combatting cellular damage due to UV rays from the sun and environmental factors like pollution to reducing the risk of developing severe health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Foods rich in polyphenols and antioxidants have also been determined to decrease the risk of some cancers and the degeneration of the brain that can lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease. If you're looking to add more polyphenol-rich foods to your diet, try plant-based options like spinach and berries such as blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. You can even throw in some dark chocolate-covered cherries for a double boost!