Good Gut Health, by Charlyn Fargo

It’s likely gut health will be a big trend for research and products in the New Year. A healthy gut can help reduce your risk of diseases such as colon polyps, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

We know our diet affects our gut health — both the foods we eat and the foods we avoid.

Probiotics are used by many to add healthy bacteria to their gut. However, researchers at the National Institutes of Health say no health claims for probiotics have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Probiotics are being actively researched; We still need to know which probiotics work best and which work best for individuals, as efficacy may vary from person to person.

A better idea is to get your probiotics from the food you eat. In general, choose more fruits, vegetables and foods high in fiber. Choose less red meat, processed meats and fatty foods.

For good gut health, we need at least 25 grams of fiber a day. Gut bacteria break down fiber into nutrients that help improve our immune system. Foods high in fiber include leafy greens, berries and other fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains and whole wheat.

It’s also important to choose less refined foods such as sweets, white bread, white pasta or rice. Choose the whole-grain versions: wild or brown rice, quinoa, barley, whole-wheat pasta and oatmeal. In addition, it is important to eat more foods with natural sugars rather than added sugars. Natural sugars in foods (such as the natural sugar in milk or fruits) are good for colon health, but added sugars can lead to excess weight. Obesity has been linked to colon cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Exercise also helps build good gut health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

Good health — and good gut health — isn’t just about a number on the scale. It’s about eating foods that promote health: fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, lean meat and dairy. Choose one new habit this new year for better gut health.

Q and A

Q: What are bioflavonoids?

A: Bioflavonoids, also called flavonoids, come from a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and beverages. There are more than 8,000 different types, including isoflavonoids, flavonols, anthocyanidins and flavones. Foods rich in bioflavonoids include celery, parsley, herbs, peppers, berries, pomegranates, plums, red wine, grapes, citrus fruits, soybeans, legumes, onions, leeks, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, tea, beans, apples and cocoa. Diets that regularly include these have been associated with longevity and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some types of cancer and neurogenerative diseases. They help reduce inflammation, boost the body’s immune response, and help get rid of harmful free radicals.


It’s likely that many of us received an air fryer for Christmas — or have one sitting on the shelf. Take time to use it in 2023. Air fryers can reduce fat content by as much as 50% and are a great way to prepare vegetables. They aren’t actually a fryer but a modified, mini convection oven. Here’s a recipe for chicken fajitas in the air fryer from Cooking Light’s Air Fryer Recipes.


1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon of black pepper

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices

2 cups thinly sliced ​​red onion

1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil


1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed

Lime wedges

Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees F for 5 minutes. Stir together cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken, onion, bell pepper, and oil to cumin mixture; toast until chicken and vegetables are evenly coated. Spray air fryer basket with cooking spray. Add chicken mixture to basket; Cook at 400 degrees until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl; Drizzle with lime juice and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with warm tortillas and lime wedges. Serves 4 (serving size: 2 tortillas and 1/4 cup chicken-vegetable mixture).

Per serving: 385 calories; 31 grams of protein; 41 grams carbohydrate; 12 grams of fat (2 grams saturated); 7 grams of fiber; 7 grams of sugar (0 grams added); 715 milligrams sodium.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creator writers and cartoonists, visit the Creator website at

Photo credit: silviarita at Pixabay

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