If you’ve experienced any digestive upset (translation: upset belly, constipation or diarrhea, bloating, and the like) as the weather season shifts, you’re not alone. It’s common to notice some changes in your digestion for a number of factors. One culprit is a favorite topic here at Minneapolis Integrative Medicine Center: your gut microbiome.
Depending on the season, your gut microbiome shifts the predominant species making its home in your digestive tract. One theory as to why this predictably happens is the change in nutrient availability as the weather changes. More fiber rich foods are available and consumed in higher quantities in the summer. That fiber is fuel for our intestinal gut bugs and can help keep positive bacteria high and well-fed.
Non-dietary factors play a role too in the diversity of our gut flora too. Some of it’s out of our control, like the temperature outdoors, the length of the days (hello, Autumn Equinox), our exposure to sunlight, and the increase of respiratory infections. Others, like our physical activity levels decreasing as we spend less time outside and our sleep routines being disrupted by weather patterns or routine changes, are well within our sphere of influence.
We always encourage seasonal eating, to better keep our microbiome diverse and healthy (not to mention that it’s more sustainable for the planet). Here are 7 foods to add to your plate now, for a happy gut and a seamless seasonal transition.
7 Foods to Add to Your Plate Now
High in fiber and flavonoids that boost digestion and brain function, apples are a quintessential fall food. The many varieties that are freshest this season offer an array of flavors for you to satisfy cravings—add some almond butter to your apple slices for a tasty snack.
Squash/Pumpkin (And Other Root Veggies)
When gut bacteria metabolize carbs, they release short-chain fatty acids, which have positive health effects such as reducing inflammation and colon cancer risk. That’s why keeping grains in your diet, especially as the temps decrease, can promote a healthy gut. Try oatmeal in the morning, and quinoa in your grain bowl for lunch.
These crunchy cruciferous veggies are another fiber-rich food that helps diversify your gut microbiome. The prebiotics in Brussels also promote variety in your gut bugs.
We know that mushrooms strengthen the immune system, and one important way they do this is by acting as a prebiotic, or food for beneficial bacteria in the gut, thereby supporting a healthy microbiome. Plus, the fall season gives us way more variety of this friendly fungi, which add nicely to stir fries, grain bowls, and more.
Cranberries promote the growth of specific types of bacteria that are good for your gut. Studies have also shown that for meat-eaters, cranberries are a great addition to your diet to help promote digestive health.
Kimchi or Sauerkraut
Fermented foods add depth to your diet. They’re rich in pre and probiotics that support your gut and contribute to keeping it’s bugs diverse and active. If you have gut issues that are on-going or chronic, or you’ve been diagnosed with SIBO, skip these until you speak with your doctor. If not, kimchi is a great grain bowl addition!
Not sure what foods are best for you? Wondering if your gut issues are more than seasonal? Reach out to chat with us—we’re here to help on your health journey.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.