Eat these five fall favourites for a healthier gut

Eat these five fall favourites for a healthier gut

  • Healthy Eating

  • By Desiree Nielsen, Registered Dietitian

    As the leaves start to turn, so do appetites…and light salads don’t always feel like the right choice when the weather cools! Luckily, the harvest season is bursting with wonderfully nourishing foods to feast on – all while supporting your digestive health.

    September is the new January, as they say. With the return of shorter days comes a return to routine, especially where our wellness is concerned. You might be feeling like you need a reset right about now: summer merrymaking is usually filled with lots of treats that can really do a number on your gut health. Too much alcohol, in addition to high fat, high sugar foods can irritate the gut and promote the growth of more harmful bacteria. The antidote? Return to healthy home-cooked meals with plenty of seasonal produce…a delicious solution!

    Take a peek at five of my favourite fall foods to help keep your tummy in tiptop shape.


    An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Well, maybe the gastroenterologist! The humble apple is tops not only because it is an affordable, local food. Apples are high in pectin, which is a soluble fibre that helps feed beneficial bacteria, improve bowel movements and keep your gut healthy and happy. Already done a bit of damage? One intriguing study suggests that the combination of fibre and phytochemicals in apples may help improve and protect against “leaky gut.”

    Brussels Sprouts

    If you have bad memories of overcooked Brussels sprouts, take heart! Lightly roasted until caramelized and crisp, gut-loving “baby cabbages” taste out of this world. Brussels sprouts are nutritional powerhouses: in addition to high levels of anti-inflammatory vitamin K and flavonoids, Brussels also boast plenty of fibre and inflammation-fighting compounds called glucosinolates. One particular glucosinolate called glucoraphanin may even help protect against H. pylori infection in the stomach.


    As a source of soothing soluble fibre for your tummy, beets are anti-inflammatory all-stars. In addition to the usual suspects, beets contain unique pigments called betalains and the compound betaine making them a key part of a gut health regime. In early research, betaine is thought to help protect colon cells from cancer. Roast up a big batch of beets on the weekend and add to smoothies, salads and soups all week long.


    Fennel has long been used as a traditional remedy for tummy troubles; a common component of gripe water, fennel is thought to “expel” wind from the digestive tract. Rich in anti-inflammatory flavonoids, fennel contains a unique compound called anethole which may help squash inflammation in its tracks. In one study, anethole also helped improved stomach emptying (a boon for those with reflux!). Slice fennel and snack on it fresh; braise or sauté for a lovely addition to fall dishes.


    You may walk past these knobbly little brown root veggies at the market but it’s time to pay attention! Sunchokes are high in inulin, a prebiotic fibre that helps to modulate the immune system in the gut, feed beneficial bacteria and lower inflammation in the gut. Puree into a creamy soup, roast or mash.

    This autumn, stay healthy as the weather cools…put more plants on your plate and feed your gut well!


    Koutsos, Athanasios, Kieran M. Tuohy, and Julie A. Lovegrove. “Apples and Cardiovascular Health—Is the Gut Microbiota a Core Consideration?.” Nutrients 7.6 (2015): 3959-3998.

    Yamada, Takanori, et al. “Inhibitory effect of raphanobrassica on Helicobacter pylori-induced gastritis in Mongolian gerbils.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 70 (2014): 107-113.

    Kim, Dong Hwan, et al. “Anti-inflammatory effects of betaine on AOM/DSSinduced colon tumorigenesis in ICR male mice.” International journal of oncology 45.3 (2014): 1250-1256.

    Asano, Teita, et al. “Anethole restores delayed gastric emptying and impaired gastric accommodation in rodents.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 472.1 (2016): 125-130.

    Estevão-Silva, Camila Fernanda, et al. “Anethole and eugenol reduce in vitro and in vivo leukocyte migration induced by fMLP, LTB4, and carrageenan.” Journal of natural medicines 68.3 (2014): 567-575.

    Vogt, Leonie, et al. “Immunological properties of inulin-type fructans.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 55.3 (2015): 414-436.


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    Desiree Nielsen Registered Dietitian
    About the author
    Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian, author and host of the vegetarian cooking sshow, The Urban Vegetarian. Desiree takes an evidence-based, integrative approach to her dietetics work, with a focus on anti-inflammatory, plant-centredcentered nutrition and digestive health.
    View all articles by Desiree Nielsen
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