Through my very looooong and complicated journey to get to the bottom of how to prevent bloating, stop my skin from breaking out, and just find foods that make me feel BETTER, I learned soooo much about gut health!
It’s seriously so crazy how much in our body is linked to the gut. Guess that’s why the experts call it the second brain, huh?
So how exactly do we keep the gut in tip-top shape? It’s probably no surprise that nutrition is a big part of it. Soo, I did some research and made a little list of the best foods for gut health.
What are probiotic foods for gut health?
I think we’ve all heard of probiotics. We see them on yogurt labels and we see ads for supplements. But why are they important for gut health? Should we be taking them as a supplement, or can we get enough from food? Do we only need them when we’re having “issues?”
The answer – Probiotics are the “good” bacteria in the digestive tract that help break down the food you eat and absorb nutrients, while also helping get rid of toxins. There are several different types and strains of probiotics, and each one affects the body differently. For example, Lactobacillus Acidophilus helps with digestion in the small intestine.
We can usually get plenty of probiotics through our diet! It’s best to eat probiotic foods on a regular basis so we can reap the benefits in a PROactive way. In other words, having probiotic foods in our regular diet will support a healthy gut and prevent problems.
Basically, we want the gut microbiome to be weighted more towards the good guys. To do that, here are some good source of probiotics!
Yogurt – This is the most common place to start.
Kefir – Kinda like yogurt, but drinkable. It can contain 10+ strains of bacteria!
Sauerkraut – Fermented cabbage. It’s good on sandwiches and some salads!
Kimchi – The spicy Korean version of sauerkraut.
Miso – A fermented paste. Not the most appetizing description but it’s really good in sauces and soups, like miso soup!
Tempeh – This is like tofu, but it’s fermented. That’s where the probiotics come in!
Kombucha – A yummy drink, which makes it super easy to sneak in some probiotics!
And then there are PREbiotics!
Okay, so PRObiotics are the actual good bacteria living in your gut. PREbiotics just keep the good guys fed and thriving. They have all kinds of crazy sciencey names like galactooligosaccharides – which is kinda fun to say – but all you need to know is that they’re types of fiber found in your fresh fruits and veggies. So the best way to get PREbiotics? A diet with a variety of whole foods. Here are some of the best prebiotic foods!
A variety of whole foods is always a win
Food doesn’t have to be a probiotic or prebiotic to benefit your gut. Eating a variety of whole foods pretty much guarantees that you’ll get a couple of other important gut-friendly substances like:
Polyphenols – a plant chemical that beneficial gut bacteria loooooove. Found in foods like berries, red onion, dark chocolate, tea, and some other fruits and vegetables.
Fiber – We KNOW the gut loves fiber! It keeps everything regular and moving, so digestion is efficient. Fiber combats inflammation, which is another plus! And inulin, a specific type of fiber, is actually a prebiotic.
Some foods could harm your gut health
There are some foods that won’t be doing your gut microbiome any favors. HOWEVER. I’m not saying avoid them at all costs. I don’t think eating these foods occasionally will cause any noticeable issues. But if your diet is heavily weighted in one or more, your gut may thank you if you add in a little variety.
Red Meat – Red meat contains something called carnitine. Basically, this could interact with the gut bacteria to produce a harmful substance that could cause atherosclerosis, which is bad news for your cardiovascular system.
Artificial Sweeteners – Look for ingredients like saccharin, sucralose and aspartame, which are usually found in “sugar-free” packaged foods and drinks. Some studies suggest that eating a lot of these could change the balance of bacteria in the gut.
Refined Foods – Think things made with white flour like breads and pastas. The issue with refined foods is that they’ve been stripped of all of their fiber!
Alcohol – Alcohol could mess with the balance of bacteria in the gut, but so far research says that moderate use is okay!
Some other things that can throw off your gut health include lack of sleep, taking antibiotics, smoking, stress, and not exercising regularly!
Soooo the takeaway here, as usual, is to eat a balanced diet! Focus on variety and LOTS of fruits and veggies. Your gut will thank you and you’ll feel great.
What food for gut health are you most excited to try? Tell me in the comments!