A healthy gut is the cornerstone of a healthy immune system


Most people have the misconception that digestive and immune systems are separate entities; however, recent research has shown that the two systems are more intertwined than previously thought.

According to Lisa Ganjhu, clinical assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, the gastrointestinal tract, or gut, is more than just the body’s primary site of taking in and absorbing nutrients – it also functions as one of the body’s frontline defenses against external threats. [1]

“Our gut plays a major role, not only in our gastrointestinal health, but in the health and well-being of the entire body,” Ganjhu said

One major reason behind this, Ganjhu said, is because the gut hosts a large population of friendly bacteria, or flora, – collectively known as the gut microbiome – which helps the body combat external threats. Gut flora, according to research, help the body by providing essential nutrients, and breaking down indigestible compounds. [2]

It goes without saying then that healthy gut flora is crucial for optimal gut health, which, in turn, is critical to maintaining optimal immune health.

As with all systems, however, problems can happen, one of which is an imbalance in the gut flora. According to experts, these problems, if not dealt with accordingly and swiftly, may lead to further complications down the road.

Thankfully, preventing these issues from happening is relatively simple; consume more organic functional foods.

Here are some of them:

Organic flax milk

A delicious, nutty-flavored vegan milk extracted from the seeds of the flax plant, flax milk is naturally packed with plant fiber. This means that it can support one’s digestive system health by promoting normal bowel movements.** Aside from that, flax milk is also a rich source of vitamin C and zinc, both of which are also known to support a healthy immune system** and help keep it functioning at an optimal level. [3]

Manuka honey

A potent superfood and a natural sweetener, Manuka honey comes from bees that pollinate the Manuka bush, a plant normally found in New Zealand and Australia.

Manuka honey, according to experts, differs from other honey variants in that it has naturally occurring methylglyoxal (MGO) as well as other antioxidants, which provide protection against free radicals.

In addition, research also shows that honey has a potential prebiotic effect on the gut’s microbiota. [4]

Organic cordyceps mushrooms

A mainstay in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), cordyceps mushrooms are some of the healthiest foods in existence – a property that can be attributed to their high levels of polysaccharides, terpenoids, proteins and polyphenols.

Aside from their immune-supporting antioxidative properties, cordyceps mushrooms have also been shown to support healthy gut flora,** making them an important addition to any diet. [5]

Widely available in both capsule and powdered form, cordyceps mushrooms can be easily added to your favorite protein shakes and breakfast smoothie bowls.

Organic cocoa

Derived from cacao beans, cocoa used to be looked at as a sacred food which possessed divine, health-supporting properties – the “food of the gods,” so to speak.

These properties are a result of its high levels of antioxidants, specifically, a class of polyphenols called flavonoids which are considered by most experts to be among the most potent when it comes to antioxidative function.

Aside from its polyphenol content, organic cocoa also contains several minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc, all of which are known to help support and maintain optimal health.** [6]

In addition to its nutrient content, organic cocoa is also incredibly easy to incorporate into one’s daily food habits. Want a quick pick-me-up? Blitz up a chocolate smoothie! Want to wind down after a long day at work? Mix a cup of hot cocoa! The possibilities are just endless.

Organic apples

They weren’t kidding when they said an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Apples are packed with vitamins C, K, A, E, B1, B2, and B6, as well as minerals such as potassium, manganese and copper.

In addition, apples also contain large amounts of pectin, a type of dietary fiber that acts as a prebiotic in the gut.** [7]

Apples also contain high levels of polyphenols, which are known to be powerful antioxidants.

Want to get all of apple’s purported health benefits? Eat them with the skin on.

Organic baobab fruit

Known as the “Queen of Superfruits,” the baobab is an ancient African fruit that’s used by native African communities for both food and health benefits.

The most well-rounded of the superfruits, baobab fruits are composed of 50% dietary fiber, of which a large chunk functions as a prebiotic that can nourish the good flora that reside in your gut. This means that baobab fruit powder can support a healthy digestive system.** [8]

Aside from its fiber content, the baobab fruit is also known for its high levels of immune-supporting antioxidants, making it an important addition to one’s diet.

Known for its delicate flavor, the baobab fruit can be easily added to popular recipes such as smoothie bowls, yogurt parfaits and even fruit juices.

Organic aloe vera

Revered by the Ancient Greeks and the Maya – among other civilizations – the aloe vera has been known throughout history as a healing plant, with its leaves and inner gel functioning as core ingredients in many traditional medicinal preparations.

Despite being primarily known for its skin-soothing property, the aloe vera also supports a healthy digestive system. [9]

This surprising attribute is largely due to its impressive nutritional profile as well as its high levels of a unique polysaccharide called acemannan – the same compound that gives the plant its soothing nature.

According to experts, this is because acemannan functions as a prebiotic once ingested. This means that it facilitates the healthy functions of beneficial gut flora.**

Despite its seemingly exotic nature, however, acemannan is actually easy to incorporate in one’s daily routine: just add aloe vera to your favorite drink or smoothie and you’re all set!

Organic turmeric

One of the key spices used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines, turmeric is known for its distinctive bright, golden color and its earthy and spicy flavor – both indicators of its high curcumin content.

A polyphenol, curcumin exhibits powerful properties once ingested, including help maintaining optimal gut health. [10]

A versatile spice, turmeric, just like its cousin ginger, lends itself well to different dishes such as curries, vegetable stir-frys and pilafs. Surprisingly, it also makes for a tasty addition to drinks such as smoothies and even tea!

Can’t find fresh roots in your location? Turmeric is also available in both powder and liquid extract forms – both of which are equal to the fresh roots in terms of potency. Just make sure you’re getting the organic kind.

White chia seeds

A relative of the mint plant, chia seeds were highly valued among the ancient Aztecs, who used them for religious ceremonies – similar to its contemporary, the cacao plant.

One of the most nutrient-dense foods known to man, chia seeds are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats – making it easy to see why they have been linked to quite an impressive array of health benefits.**

In addition to their nutrient content, chia seeds also contain impressive amounts of dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble.

According to experts, the insoluble fiber within chia seeds functions primarily as a prebiotic in the digestive system. This means that instead of being digested and used directly by the body, it feeds the beneficial flora that live deep within the gut, thereby supporting a healthy gut flora. [11]

A versatile food item, chia seeds can be added to smoothies as a topping and eaten immediately in order to add crunch, or it can be added to drinks in order to make a healthier version of the jelly-filled drinks that are all the rage lately.

Organic rice bran fiber

Rice bran fiber is derived from the outer layer of the rice grain and contains a number of nutrients and bioactive compounds such as amino acids, fatty acids and vitamins.

An impressive source of dietary fiber, rice bran can help maintain an optimal digestive system not only by feeding the gut flora, but also by promoting normal bowel movements.** [12]

Rice bran fiber can easily be added to your daily diet too. One way to do this is by adding it to your favorite breakfast porridge, or by adding it to your flour when baking.

In addition to eating healthy foods, here are other ways that you can support optimal gut health:

Optimizing gut health the natural way

Learn how to reduce and manage your stress. Chronic stress can cause a lot of harm to the body, including the gut. According to experts, chronic stress can cause the digestive system to manifest issues such as indigestion and nausea. In order to avoid this, one can engage in activities such as meditation and yoga, which have been shown to significantly reduce feelings of stress. [13]

Try to get enough sleep. A lack of sleep isn’t just going to leave you tired and listless throughout the day – it’s also going to wreak havoc on your gut microbiome, according to a new study. This means that you should definitely try to get around seven to eight hours of sleep each night. [14]

Stay active. Related to the point above, it is important that one maintains a healthy level of physical activity in order to maintain a healthy body and mind. [15]

Stay hydrated. According to experts, drinking plenty of water has a beneficial effect on the balance of good bacteria in the gut.

Avoid tobacco. As you know, smoking increases your risk of multiple diseases. If you are a smoker, go and talk to a medical professional or healthcare provider and inquire about a program that can help you quit. [16]

Eat your way to an optimal digestive system

Adding the functional foods listed above to your daily routine need not be a complicated issue. After all, most functional foods can just be added directly into existing recipes without any trouble.

Here are some recipes that make use of several of the functional foods listed in this article that you can try:

Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Smoothie

If you’re looking for something that’s on the sweet side, this velvety vegan chocolate smoothie may be perfect for you.

Made from a surprisingly delicious combination of frozen avocados and organic cocoa powder, this rich and luscious smoothie owes its delectably creamy texture to a surprising ingredient: organic rice bran fiber.

Make this if you want a delicious yet healthy pick-me-up to get you out of that dreaded afternoon slump.



  1. Place all ingredients except cacao nibs and chia seeds in a blender.
  2. Blend until creamy or until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.
  3. Pour into glasses, add cacao nibs and chia seeds as toppings and serve immediately.

Recipe: Kale-Banana Breakfast Smoothie

A quick and easy vegan breakfast smoothie, this is the perfect recipe for those who live on the go. Not only that, it is also packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy oils, which means that this smoothie is guaranteed to give your system a good start as you go on with your busy workday.



  1. Blend prepared flax milk and kale leaves until smooth.
  2. Add the sliced banana, coconut oil, and the apple peel, mushroom, aloe vera and baobab fruit powders.
  3. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add honey, to taste.
  5. Pour into glasses, top with chia seeds and serve immediately.

Recipe: Tropical Mango Banana Smoothie Bowl

Refreshing, with just the hint of a zing, this is the perfect smoothie for those who want to start their day with delicious and classic tropical flavors, reminiscent of a beach holiday.


      For the toppings / garnish:


  1. Add mangoes, cantaloupe, flax milk, flaxseed oil and powders in a blender.
  2. Blend until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Check sweetness. Add more Manuka honey, if desired.
  4. Pour smoothie into a serving bowl.
  5. Garnish with mango slices, cantaloupe cubes, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, and chopped cashews and almonds.
  6. Serve immediately.

Do you know any other functional superfoods and methods that can help maintain a healthy digestive system? Let us know in the comments below!

Explore our Digestion Support collection here. 

 Share this article with your friends and tell us about your experience with these gut-supporting foods and how they have enriched your overall wellness!


**These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any diseases.

Previous article Here's the amazing science behind black cumin seed's potent health-promoting properties