Excellent gut health is everything.
Not only do good gut health foods contribute to overall proper digestive health, but the foods you put into your body contribute to overall well-being.
If you eat a balanced diet that contains fermented foods, you increase the level of healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. These good bacteria are responsible for keeping illness away, improving depression, and stabilizing your immune system.
When you get your nutrients from foods that make your gut happy, you’ll see a difference in your digestion, your skin, and even your cognitive abilities!
If you battle with stomach pains, bloating, gas, or other health issues, it may be time to take a look at ways to incorporate gut-healthy foods into your diet.
Here are nine good gut health foods to always have on hand:
This fermented food is full of nutrients the body needs to stay healthy. Unpasteurized sauerkraut, in particular, contains probiotics, which are known to improve digestion and knock out other harmful bacteria in the body.
One of the best perks of eating fermented foods? Several studies show that daily consumption of such foods offers multiple health benefits, including potential protection from colds and the flu.
2. Water Kefir
If you’ve tried kombucha — another super healthy gut beverage — then water kefir is another drink you can enjoy for its gut-improving benefits. There’s a reason that kefir comes from the Turkish word keyif, meaning “feeling good” after eating a meal. Not only is water kefir full of nutrients and vitamins like B12 and riboflavin, but it’s also considered to be a better probiotic than even live yogurt. You’ll find dairy-free versions created from coconut milk and coconut water.
3. Live Yogurt
Not a fan of kefir? Live yogurt is another great option to try out. Many doctors will recommend yogurt for gut health if you’re on a round of antibiotics. Even dairy-free options naturally contain a variety of probiotic cultures because of how the fermentation process works. Just be sure to look at the sugar content and consider opting for plain yogurt as the fruit varieties can be sugary!
This traditional Japanese seasoning is produced during the soybean fermentation process. This thick soybean paste is usually fermented with salt and koji and is the base for a variety of soups, sauces, and spreads. It’s important to note that putting miso in boiling water will kill its probiotics, removing any gut health benefits. If you’re making miso soup, wait until you remove the pot from the heat to stir in your nutrient-dense miso for good gut health benefits. A. oryzae is the key main probiotic strain in miso that may reduce digestive issues.
5. Coconut Products
Coconut lovers, rejoice. Coconut is considered one of the best good gut health foods. Best of all, it comes in a variety of forms — from coconut water to coconut “meat” — making it one of the most versatile preferred gut health foods around. The coconut’s medium-chain fatty acids, in particular, are good for anyone with a leaky gut as the fats are easier for the digestive system to digest.
Pickles are one of those easy-to-make fermented foods that aren’t just tasty but also make for a great gut health food snack. These salty cukes are a healthy source of probiotic bacteria, which helps keep the gut healthy. Whether you prefer dill, bread and butter pickles, or even pickle relish, you’ll get a good dose of vitamin K and other minerals, too. When picking out your pickles, opt for the ones in the cooler section over the ones that are shelf-stable.
This prebiotic food is delicious steamed with a bit of olive oil and tossed on the grill. Because of this green food’s high levels of fiber inulin, it feeds healthy bacteria that live in the gut like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. Plus, it’s full of nutrients but low in calories, making it an optimal side dish as well. A serving of asparagus will feed your gut bacteria in a healthy way while providing you with vitamins C, K, A, and even folate and fiber.
These easily portable foods are perfect to take on-the-go when you need a healthy snack to silence your grumbling stomach. Apples are a good source of pectin, a type of prebiotic fiber as well as polyphenols, a type of chemical produced in apples. A study in Frontiers in Microbiology found that a whole apple contains 100 million bacteria, which can contribute to the bacteria’s biodiversity needed for good gut health.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
Made from fermented apples and water, apple cider vinegar is a must-have-on-hand ingredient. By itself, it’s great for the gut, but it can also be added atop other good gut health foods like dandelion greens or arugula as a dressing. It has antimicrobial properties, plus there are some claims that it can reduce inflammation while also supporting digestion. Best of all, it can add beneficial gut bacteria that may help increase immunity.
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Avoid Consuming These Foods and Drinks
While a balanced diet is best, it’s not always practical. If you eat processed or unhealthy food, you’ll probably notice it first in your gut. If you’re aiming to improve your gut health, there are some foods you may want to consider avoiding, when possible.
These are the foods and drinks aren’t great for your gut health:
- Soda - Not only is soda full of sugar — real or fake — its acidity can irritate your stomach lining and cause acid reflux.
- Alcohol - Ingesting alcohol creates more stomach acid, which over time can cause the stomach lining to become inflamed.
- Fried foods - When you regularly consume fried foods, you increase your risk of health issues like obesity. Plus, these move through the digestive tract slowly, causing stomach bloat and irritation.
- Red meat - This type of meat is hard for the human stomach to break down, which causes the stomach to empty slowly and can cause bloating and other digestive and inflammatory issues.
- Artificial sweeteners - While artificial sweeteners may have zero calories, these don’t have a zero impact on your health. Research shows fake sweeteners may stimulate your appetite and potentially play a role in unnecessary weight gain.
Life isn’t about perfection. If you slip up and eat one of the above foods, it’s not the end of the world. Life is about balance. Everything in moderation, right?
Keep Good Gut Health Foods on Hand
When you eat well, you feel well.
That’s why it’s essential to give these foods a try at least once a day. Other gut-healing foods include garlic, onion, kimchi, and ginger. As you incorporate prebiotic and probiotic foods into your diet, take note of how you feel. You’ll likely notice an increase in energy, reduced bloating, and overall wellness improvements.
Other ways to improve your gut health include eating slowly, sleeping well, staying hydrated, and keeping up with your daily probiotic.
Want to learn more about good gut health? Check out these posts:
If you’re dealing with a constant upset stomach or fluctuating weight changes, talk with your physician about creating a healthy diet that works for you. You may also want to consider working with a nutritionist to see which foods work best for you to achieve optimal gut health.
Ready to add some probiotic shots into your diet to improve your gut health? Try GUT CHECK, our probiotic health shot that has all the ingredients needed for good gut health!