New and old ideas to love your gut

Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

Understanding your gut can be confusing, particularly when it comes to what to eat and which ingredients can support and improve digestive health.

The annual Love Your Gut Week, September 18 to 24, has partnered with author and writer Dr Joan Ransley to share five retro and gut-friendly foods that are making a comeback, with details on why they have surged in popularity and how to enjoy them.

Dr Ransley has also created simple recipes that are gut-friendly and we include two here – Smokey Beans and Pea and Prawn Stir Fry. For more recipes visit

  1. Pearl Barley

Traditionally used to make meat dishes go further, pearl barley has been used for centuries in cuisines and dishes across the world, including casseroles and soups.

Today, pearl barley is making a name for itself as an affordable, versatile and healthy plant-based option. With a satisfying chewy texture and slightly nutty flavour, it absorbs flavours well in cooking, making it a popular choice for dishes such as risotto, orzotto, stews and salads.

Pearl barley is a great grain to support gut health. It contains dietary fibre, which helps digested food pass through the gut[i], as well as resistant starch. Resistant starch is important in the diet because it resists digestion, so it passes directly through the small intestine to the colon and is then fermented by ‘good bugs’ and turned into butyrate. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid which plays an important role in reducing inflammation[ii] and maintaining the health of the gut lining.

  1. Tinned Sardines

Demand for tinned food continues to grow as shoppers recognise it as an affordable and convenient option that has a longer shelf life. Sales of canned foods are currently at their highest since 2018 with tinned fish, in particular, making a comeback.

Sardines are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to benefit the health of the gut in three main ways. They have a positive effect on the type and abundance of gut microbes and play a key role in the gut immune system. They are also involved in the regulation of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which are vital for keeping the wall of the gut healthy. Partner with cherry tomatoes on toast.

Pictured: Pea and Prawn Stir Fry, Love Your Gut Week.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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