Our digestive systems are so amazing! Not only do they allow us to extract nutrients from our food and eliminate the stuff we don’t need, it also help program and support our immune system, produce hormones and neurotransmitters (the little chemicals that make our brains tick) and is home to over 100 trillion (yes, trillion!) microorganisms that protect us against a multitude of diseases and not-so-nice health conditions. We are learning more and more about gut health every single day and some very interesting findings have started to surface (faecal transplant, anyone?)

The more digestive cases I see, the more I am amazed at how resilient our guts really are. Once you give them the right support and nourishment, healing and health is restored beautifully. When I am working with my ‘gut patients’ (ie: people who are suffering with IBS, constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence etc) I’m always working to identify the main driver of digestive upset. In my experience, it is usually one of these that require some work:

  • Imbalance of bugs within the gut (a naturopath will often refer to this as dysbiosis)

  • Leaky Gut Syndrome – this condition develops when there has been too much trauma to your digestive system, resulting in a weakened and damaged gut lining.

  • Alterations in stomach acid production – you are either producing too much or too little and the food that you are eating isn’t getting digested properly.

  • Food Intolerances or allergies – what you are eating, isn’t agreeing with your body.

This list is not exhaustive and there are several other things that might be going on, so if you have had tummy trouble for a while, I suggest seeing a qualified naturopath or health professional so that you can get to the bottom of what is going on. There are many fancy (and amazing!) tests and procedures that can give lots of information about your digestion function, but I always like to start by focusing on your nutrition. Here are my top 5 foods that help support gut health.

Fermented foods

Think sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, full-fat organic yoghurt (if you can handle dairy), natto, miso, temphe and kombucha. These foods have utilised beneficial bacteria in their production and help promote a healthy balance within your digestive tract. 1 serve every day – 2 days will help promote a healthy digestive tract.

Bitter Foods

Foods like lemon, rocket, chicory, watercress, unsweetened cacao, bitter melon and radicchio lettuce help support overall digestive function especially when it comes to balancing stomach acid. If you’re prone to bloating after a meal, try a small salad of rocket, radicchio and cucumber with a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil 15 – 20 minutes before your main meal.


‘Carminative’ is a term naturopathic nutritionists apply to certain foods that display calming qualities on the digestive system. Carminative foods and spices include ginger, peppermint, fennel, fenugreek and rosemary. You could try these as a tea after a meal (grate some fresh ginger and then add a few fennel seeds and fresh peppermint leaves. Allow this to brew for 5 minutes and then drink while still warm)

 Manuka Honey

This is not your normal honey (although there is some evidence that raw, unprocessed honey also exhibits health benefits for the gut). Manuka honey is made from bees that pollinate the manuka bush, a plant native to New Zealand. Manuka honey contains several antibacterial components specifically a compound called methylglyoxal which is found in high concentration in the manuka bush flowers. Manuka honey has been shown to be supportive in the treatment and management of H. Pylori – a type of bacteria that lives within the stomach and can be responsible for stomach ulcers, bloating and stomach discomfort.

 Glutamine-rich foods

Glutamine is an amino acid that helps reduce gastrointestinal inflammation and heals the lining of the gut if it has been under attack. Glutamine is found in good amounts in lean protein, ricotta and cottage cheese (again, have only if you can handle dairy), spinach, cabbage and parsley.

So often we are told ‘we are what we eat’, but in actually fact ‘we are what we digest and absorb’. Good nutrition plays such a large role in being able to have and maintain a healthy gut, but good nutrition will vary from individual to individual. Food intolerances or allergies to ‘healthy foods’ can also sneak up so if you are not sure what is triggering your symptoms, get in touch with me and we can have a chat about what might be going on.