Fall gives us so much more than pumpkin spice lattes. It delivers a bounty of delicious, gut-healthy fruits and vegetables! Here are five that are in season now and are excellent for your gut.
Leeks are an incredibly rich source of prebiotics, which are the types of fiber that feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Without prebiotics, your gut microbes begin to starve and can’t do their jobs of keeping your intestinal lining healthy, fighting inflammation, regulating blood sugar, and so much more.
Note that prebiotics may not be tolerated well by some individuals, especially those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In this case, it is not that the prebiotic foods are inherently “bad”; instead, it means there is an underlying imbalance in the gut that needs to be corrected.
Apples have a special type of prebiotic fiber called pectin. They also contain their own communities of “good” bacteria, known as probiotics! When buying apples, try to opt for organic, not only to avoid ingesting harmful pesticide residue, but also because organic apples have shown to have higher levels of beneficial bacteria and a greater diversity of bacterial species. Diversity, whether we’re talking about our own native gut bacteria or probiotics, is one of the best things we can focus on when working on our gut health.
Pomegranates are chock-full of compounds with antioxidant benefits. One of these can be converted to something called Urolithin A. Urolithin A has been shown to protect against or reduce inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), general inflammation in the gut, and “leaky gut.”
Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, can be caused by several factors, including celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders. A permeable gut lining can then go on to worsen autoimmune conditions, food sensitivities, and inflammation. Luckily, phytochemicals like those in pomegranate can significantly help repair it!
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens such as kale, collards, mustard greens, & chard are all sources of insoluble fiber, which is a type of fiber that can help prevent constipation. They’re high in magnesium as well, which can also help keep you regular. But wait, there’s more…
Dark leafy greens contain a unique carbohydrate that specifically promotes the “good” bacteria in our gut and limits the “bad” ones from being able to thrive!
Winter squashes like acorn, delicata, kabocha, and pumpkin are high in both insoluble and soluble fiber. Your gut microbes go crazy for soluble fiber, so eat up! If you roast the seeds, you can also get even more fiber as well as minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
I encourage you to try incorporating all of these into your diet this Fall. If you have a favorite recipe or way to cook leeks, apples, pomegranates, greens, or squash, feel free to leave it in a comment below and inspire others!