Pumpkin is Great for Gut Health – 6 Benefits
Pumpkins are synonymous with Halloween, but there's nothing spooky about this winter squash. Its unique appearance makes it seem ornamental, but pumpkin is packed full of nutrients that provide benefits for the human body. Most notably, pumpkin is known to be very advantageous for your gut health - here are six reasons why:
1. Pumpkin has 7g of dietary fiber per cup
Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which is an incredible nutrient for your gut. Fiber is prebiotic, meaning it helps to maintain good gut bacteria. Essentially, prebiotics act as fertilizers that encourage the growth of good bacteria (probiotics) in your gut. In turn, they increase in number and variety. The higher concentration of good microbes, the healthier the gut.
2. Pumpkin oil helps fight various bacterial and fungal infections
The oil from pumpkin seeds is highly anti-microbial and helps to ward off various bacterial and fungal infections - particularly those in the gut. Pumpkin seed oil may also help manage the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The high fatty acid content reduces inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and many people report a lessening of symptoms when taken regularly.
3. High levels of vitamin A
Most people associate vitamin C with the immune system, but high levels of vitamin A are essential to give yourself an immunity boost. 80% of your immune system is located in the gut, so pumpkin helps ensure it remains healthy with a high dosage of vitamin A per serving.
4. An excellent source of zinc
Pumpkins contain a lot of zinc - particularly in the seeds. This mineral is shown to be essential in maintaining a healthy gut. One study from 2001 indicated that high levels of zinc helped to strengthen the gut lining in patients with Crohn's disease. This was further backed up by another study in 2015 that found zinc was responsible for preventing the lining of the intestines from becoming too permeable. As such, it's seen as a key supplement when combating problems like leaky gut syndrome.
5. Pumpkin contains L-tryptophan
L-tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids supplied by the diet. It has many roles within the body, but a study from 2013 surmised that it was crucial at regulating gut bacteria. It ensures a balance of good bacteria in the gut, which can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health.
6. High in antioxidants
Pumpkin is an excellent source of antioxidants, aiding your gut's natural defense system. One study has shown that antioxidants can help protect the cells lining the gut - this is particularly important for people with inflammatory gut conditions or serious infections. For example research has shown antioxidants protect against damage to the gut lining caused by h. pylori.
As you can see, pumpkin is far more than a decorative piece to put on your porch come October! If you want a healthy gut, it's one of the best foods to add to your diet. It's a versatile vegetable as you can use it in sweet and savory dishes, meaning there's no excuse to not give it a try.