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  • Food
  • The Best Food Pairings For Gut Health

    10th February 2021

    10th February 2021

    By Shivraj Bassi

    If you’ve ever experienced bloating or stomach discomfort after eating (and who hasn’t?) you’ll know better than most the importance of eating the right foods for gut and digestive health. While we all know that some foods are better for you than others, and that what you eat can affect good gut health, did you know that it’s the combination of some foods over others that mean they don’t mix well in your digestive tract?

    When you eat certain foods in the right combinations, not only do you help your digestive system operate at its best and improve your gut health, you actually help your body to absorb as many nutrients as possible from the foods you’re eating. This technique is known as food combining, and it could change your diet for the better. 

    If you’re prone to indigestion or bloating, this technique could be especially helpful for you. The idea is that different kinds of foods require different environments to fully break down. An example is if you mix protein, which requires an acidic environment for optimum digestion, with carbohydrates, which require an alkaline environment. This means you run a higher risk of stomach upset when you eat both together than you do if you don’t combine them. 

    Another factor is the amount of time different foods take to combine. Certain kinds of food digest exceptionally quickly. Fruit can be completely absorbed in two hours or even less, whereas nuts can take up to four hours or even longer. Eating these foods in combination could upset your digestive system, so switching the order in which you consume different kinds of foods has the potential to improve your gut health considerably if this is something you struggle with. 

    Foods can also work in synergy together. The nutrient profiles of certain foods and complement and enhance those of others when they’re eaten together. This is useful if you’re looking to absolutely maximise the nutrition you’re getting from what you’re eating, as many athletes are

    Whatever your goal, it’s helpful to know the best food pairings for gut health to give your body the best chance possible to thrive. Here’s how to make the most of food combining and improve your gut health. 

    Yogurt with whole grains

    Yogurt contains live bacteria and often has prebiotics added to them, which helps with the balance of flora and fauna in the gut. To give prebiotics the best chance to thrive in your digestive system, it’s best to eat them with prebiotic fibres, which are non-digestible food fibres which ferment inside the gut and thus stimulate the growth of prebiotics. There’s a very simple way to do this: by eating your yogurt with some oats sprinkled on top. 

    Eat fruit by itself

    Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

    Fruit is one of the fastest-digesting foods, so if you’re aiming for optimum gut health, it’s best to enjoy fruit only with other fruit. A bowl of mixed berries, for example, goes great with a spritz of lime juice. Melons are a pertinent example here, as their water content is so high they move through the body quickly. They also require different enzymes to fully break them down, which can spell trouble if they’re eaten with other foods. Stick to eating fruit alone and you should be just fine. 

    Eat greens with everything

    It’s not as this is new advice - we should all be eating as many leafy green vegetables as we possibly can, as they’re nutritional powerhouses - but from a good gut health perspective, spinach, chard, kale and their ilk are even better than you’d previously given them credit for. As they don’t interfere with the digestion of other vegetables, fats or proteins, they can be safely eaten with every combination of these foods. They’re easy additions to protein smoothies (try adding a handful of spinach to our The Strong Protein for a tasty nutrient boost), salads and as a side with salmon, tofu or chicken. 

    Pair iron-rich foods with vitamin c

    Iron is a crucial mineral to get enough of, and is essential for many key functions in the body. Iron-rich foods include meats as well as beans, nuts, wholegrains and some vegetables. However, your body struggles to absorb the all-important iron from these foods. A way to combat this is by eating foods high in iron with foods high in vitamin c, which helps absorption. Foods high in vitamin c include citrus, kiwi, tomato, broccoli and strawberries. Pairing these foods will help your gut health and up the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet, as well as helping to improve your levels of both iron and vitamin c.

    No time to pair?

    No problem. You can keep your microbiome in check with The Digest Capsules, our daily capsules containing probiotics and prebiotics to encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, with digestive enzymes and ginger to improve digestion and reduce bloating. Your gut will thank you for it...

    Other Insights

    Coffee with milk
    There are plenty of reasons that people choose to switch to a vegan milk, ranging from the milk alternatives health benefits, their reduced environmental impact, and even their taste. But when it comes to choosing the best non-dairy milk for you, the healthiest milk alternative, or even the best non-dairy milk for coffee, it can become a bit challenging to choose between the many, many milk alternatives on the market. We’re here to break it down. We’re talking taste, sustainability and more. It’s the battle of the non-dairy milk alternatives, if you will. But first, as always, let’s get the basics out the way. What are non-dairy milks? Non-dairy milks are a group of plant-based milks such as oat, cashew and coconut milk, that are made without the need for dairy milk from cows. This means that not only are their environmental impact much lower, but that they are great for those that want to follow a vegan lifestyle and remove animal by-products from their diet. They’ve also got some pretty sweet health benefits, too. What are the benefits of non-dairy milks? Of course, the health benefits of non-dairy milks vary from milk to milk, but broadly, some of the great benefits of dairy milk alternatives include: Great sources of calcium Cholesterol free Easier to digest A delicious taste Fewer calories Due to the increasing popularity of dairy milk alternatives, too, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to brands, milk types and even flavours. For this reason, here at Innermost we recommend that if you try one dairy milk alternative and don’t like it – maybe you don’t like the taste or texture, just try another one! You’re sure to find one that you love. It can be pretty overwhelming when selecting the best milk alternative, though. So let’s take a look together… What is the most sustainable milk alternative? It’s a fact that in general, plant-based milks are more sustainable. Their production uses less land, less water and their production leads to far fewer levels of greenhouse gases than dairy milk counterparts. The two most sustainable milk alternatives are soy milk, who’s production requires the least amount of water, and almost milk, who’s production leads to the least carbon dioxide. So, if you’re looking to make the swap to a dairy-free milk in the hope of making a sustainable dietary choice, soy or almond are the milks for you. What is the best non-dairy milk for protein shakes? When it comes to choosing the best non-dairy milk for protein shakes, you’re looking for a delicious taste and a creamy texture. Both of which are provided by almond milk. Almond milk has a similar, creamy consistency to cows milk which is ideal for creating thick and satisfying protein shakes, and the vitamin content of this milk packs a punch, too. Almond milk contains Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin E, which is a great addition to your protein shake, for sure. For those that love a caffeine boost, almond milk is often considered the best non-dairy milk for coffee, too! If you’re looking for a great tasting dairy milk alternative to add to your shakes, though, we really recommend coconut milk. Sweet and delicious, coconut milk is a firm cult favourite for protein shakes, especially with our pineapple flavoured product The Energy Booster… did someone say Pina Colada? What is the healthiest milk alternative? If you’re thinking of making the switch from dairy milk to plant milk, it’s probably fair to say that one of the biggest motivators behind this choice is the health benefits. Maybe you’re lactose intolerant and fed up of the milk-induced bloating, or perhaps you’re just conscious of the high fat content that dairy milk can bring… Whilst these are worthy concerns, when deciding on the healthiest milk alternative, it’s important to consider the sugar content of your brand of choice. That’s what you should be looking for. Soy milk is one of the most popular dairy milk alternatives, and it’s not hard to see why. As one of the healthiest on the market, soy milk contains just as much protein as cows’ milk, and as long as the milks don’t contain any added sugars and are unsweetened, soy milk is definitely the healthiest pick. Summary There are a few really key points to consider when making the switch to a dairy milk alternative. Firstly, non-dairy doesn’t mean non-delicious. Many people opt for a dairy milk alternative for the taste and difference that these milks can bring to smoothies and protein shakes as a result, for example. Secondly, switching to non-dairy milks is a great choice for the environment. The dairy industry has a hugely detrimental affect on the environment, and so switching to one of these delicious alternatives is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. By the way… why not make the change this World Vegan Day? Whether you opt for oat milk, soy milk, almond milk, or any other of the worthy plant-based milk alternatives, let us know what you think! Head on over to @liveinnermost. We’d love to hear from you. Read more
    5 Easy Vegan Swaps To Make This World Vegan Day