It’s fair to say that over the past couple of years, gut health has gone mainstream – and we’ve all become, well, rather obsessed with talking about what goes on in our intestines. Over on TikTok videos hashtagged #GutTok have over 200 million views; on Instagram, recipes said to bolster your gut microbiome abound.

Yet, according to a national YouGov study published earlier this year, which was commissioned on behalf of MOJI and surveyed 2,000 UK adults, 74% of Brits admit to neglecting this specific part of their anatomy. So while one in two of us understand that eating enough fibre and plant-based foods are key for gut health, less than 14% are actually eating the recommended amount of plants each week (that’s 30 different plants, including herbs, spices, nuts and seeds, as well as fruit and veg, if you didn’t know).

Harley Street registered nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr is a gut health specialist who’s on a mission to empower everyone to take control of their own gut health. From hosting specialist gut health retreats to offering personalised nutrition programmes, Lenherr’s philosophy is based on the belief that health really does begin from within. ‘The gut is at the centre of our health,’ she says. ‘What happens in our gut, pretty much impacts every part of our body.’

Evangelical she might sound but research backs up her belief. A growing body of science supports the idea that gut affects everything from your immune system to your metabolism. ‘A well-balanced gut microbiome is not only essential for digestion and nutrient absorption but also plays a vital role in supporting our immune system, mental wellness, skin and can even impact our weight,’ she says.

gut friendly recipes

Clarissa Lenherr

My gut-friendly approach

The foundations of a gut-friendly diet, Lenherr explains, include a ‘high intake of fibre, found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, pulses, and nuts. Live fermented foods which contain live bacterial cultures, that play a vital role in gut health and can be introduced through foods like yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut.’

‘Prebiotic fibres are non-digestible fibres that nourish beneficial gut bacteria, which can be found in garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, and even dark chocolate.’

And diversity is key, she adds. ‘Our gut bacteria thrive on having variety in fibres and nutrients – I like to think of this as getting plenty of colour on your plate and reaching for different plant foods each day.’

My go-to recipes for gut health

All of the recipes below focus on whole food sources with an emphasis on making plants the star of the show (showing they can be delicious). ‘I like to take recipes and gut-health them up by swapping traditional low-fibre ingredients for prebiotic sources, high-fibre swaps and fermented foods,’ she says.

gut friendly recipe

Clarissa Lenherr

Pink kefir smoothie

‘This nutritious, colourful and creamy raspberry kefir smoothie is filled with gut-loving live bacteria and is a quick, easy and nutritious breakfast or snack that will satisfy your gut bugs and taste buds,’ says Lenherr. ‘We’ve added cacao nibs on top as adding something crunchy and bitter to a smoothie can help stimulate your digestion.’

Ingredients:

  • 80ml of plain kefir or coconut kefir if dairy-free
  • 30g of frozen strawberries
  • 30g of frozen raspberries
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 115ml of plenish cashew milk depending on how thick you like it
  • 20g oats
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • Optional: 30g scoop of hemp protein powder

Method:

  • Add all ingredients apart from cacao nibs to the blender
  • Blend well
  • Serve and enjoy

Gut health benefits:

‘Kefir is a fermented dairy product that is rich in probiotics, which are live beneficial bacteria that can positively influence the composition and activity of the gut microbiome,’ she says. ‘Live bacteria help maintain a balanced and healthy gut flora, which is crucial for proper digestion and overall gut health. Combined with the fibre-rich berries, this smoothie is packed with gut-loving probiotics, protein and fibre to keep you and your gut bugs satisfied.’


Plant-based buddha bowl

‘Buddha bowls are a great way to pack in diversity, different flavours, crunch and a nutritious delicious dressing,’ says Lenherr.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cupped hand of brown rice
  • 1 cupped hand of chopped cabbage
  • 6 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cupped hand of greens of choice
  • ¼ of an avocado chopped into cubes
  • Tempeh
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

Dressing ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • A pinch of sea salt

Method:

  • Pan-fry the tempeh in coconut oil and tamari for 5 minutes till crispy
  • Assemble your bowl by placing the veggies and tempeh around the edge and the brown rice in the centre
  • Add all the dressing ingredients to a separate bowl, whisk and drizzle over the buddha bowl
  • Top with a teaspoon of mixed seeds if you fancy a crunch

Gut health benefits:

‘A Buddha bowl is a fantastic way to get in lots of diversity and gut-loving fibre. Firstly, tempeh is a fermented soybean product that contains beneficial live bacteria which may help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria,’ she says. ‘Brown rice is a source of insoluble fibre, promoting regular bowel movements. Using tahini for the dressing here can aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, due to the dose of healthy fats.’


gut friendly recipes

Clarissa Lenherr

Rainbow rolls with satay dip

‘These rainbow rolls are super nutritious, packed with fibre, versatile and easier to make than you think,’ says Lenherr. ‘You can use whatever veggies and herbs you have lying around, and the dip is key here – totally delicious.’

Ingredients:

  • Any veggies you want to chop into sticks, I like using:
  • Carrot sticks
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Courgette sticks
  • Crunchy sliced cabbage
  • Sliced peppers
  • Sliced celery
  • Sliced avocado
  • 1 handful of fresh mint
  • Rice paper wraps

Peanut satay:

  • 3 tbsp of peanut butter
  • 1 tsp soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • ½ tbsp sesame oil
  • ⅓ tsp garlic powder

Method:

  • Mix all the dip ingredients together and add a little water to thin out to a desired consistency
  • For the rice paper rolls, follow the instructions for the wraps (in warm water)
  • Fill the bottom part of the paper with your chopped veggies and herbs. Fold over and roll. Then half way up the paper, fold in the edges (like you’re wrapping a present!)
  • Continue to roll, repeat and enjoy.

Gut health benefits:

‘These veggie-packed rolls are an excellent source of fibre, which is essential for gut health. Fibre helps regulate bowel movements, promotes a feeling of fullness, and provides nourishment to our beneficial gut bacteria,’ she explains.

‘Rice paper rolls are also gluten-free, making them suitable for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. The colour of foods can often indicate the presence of various phytochemicals, including polyphenols. Polyphenols serve as prebiotics, which helps feed our good gut bacteria whilst helping to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria in the gut. Different coloured foods provide us with different types and amounts of polyphenols, and it has been shown that a diverse diet with a variety of colours works best to promote a healthy gut.’


gut friendly recipes

Clarissa Lenherr

Crispy paprika butter beans

‘These beans combine the rich, smokey notes of paprika with creamy protein-packed butter beans to create a delicious and nutritious snack,’ says Lenherr.

Ingredients:

  • 1 400g can of butter beans
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chilli salt
  • 1-2 tbsp of olive oil

Method:

  • Rinse the butter beans very well in water and pop them into a bowl
  • Add all the spices and olive oil, mix well until the beans are coated
  • Pop into the air fryer for 15 minutes at 180 C or cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 180 C. Make sure to flip the beans halfway through cooking
  • Take out and enjoy hot or cold

Gut health benefits:

‘The fibre in butter beans acts as a prebiotic, meaning it provides nourishment for bacteria in the gut,’ she says. ‘Butter beans also contain a type of carbohydrate called resistant starch which resists digestion in the small intestine and reaches the colon intact, where it can be fermented by gut bacteria. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids, which are known to have numerous positive effects on the gut-brain axis.’


gut friendly recipe

Clarissa Lenherr

Low fodmap tahini cookies

‘These cookies are full of healthy fats, plant protein and natural sweetness. To keep each cookie low FODMAP, maple syrup is used instead of honey, dairy-free dark chocolate, and tahini instead of butter,’ says Lenherr.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 120g maple syrup
  • 60g of runny tahini
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g of ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 60g of dark chocolate chips

Method:

(Makes 8 Large cookies, or 11 small)

  • Preheat your oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper
  • In a large bowl mix the egg, maple syrup, tahini and vanilla extract until smooth
  • Add in each of the dry ingredients – ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix well. Then pour in the chocolate chips and mix
  • Using a large tablespoon, pour the dough onto the prepared baking paper, until you have made small cookie sizes (you can have them small or large – up to you!). Spread them evenly as they grow during the baking process.
  • Bake for 10 minutes until golden. Take them out and let them cool for 10 minutes
  • Top with sesame seeds, an extra drizzle of dark chocolate and some sea salt

Gut health benefits:

‘Tahini is a great source of copper, iron and calcium which can be missed on many diets, particularly if following the low FODMAP diet,’ she says. ‘Often when following a low FODMAP diet, dairy is removed, so opting for plant-based sources of calcium is important.

‘FODMAPS are fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates found in lots of different foods, and for some sensitive individuals, eating fodmap-containing foods may trigger gut symptoms such as bloating, gas, stomach pain, diarrhoea and constipation.

‘The prebiotic compounds from FODMAPS are poorly absorbed in our small intestines, therefore they are passed through undigested into the colon, where they are rapidly fermented by colonic bacteria. This process is totally natural, however, if you are prone to IBS-type symptoms, the gas produced from the FODMAPs you’re consuming could result in gut issues. Avoiding FODMAPs can be helpful when it comes to gut health, but it is not a long-term solution. I advise you to always work with a gut health specialist if your symptoms are impacting your daily life.’

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