6 Everyday Foods to Munch On For A Healthier Gut (Plus 4 You'd Better Avoid)
We get it: Gut bacteria(1), a.k.a. the trillions of microorganisms living in your intestinal tract, may not be the sexiest topic to talk about. But, knowing how your gut works can go a long way in more ways than one. Over the past few years, research(2) has concluded that gut microbiome (that's science talk for gut bacteria) can positively affect several aspects of your health, from the quality of your immune system(3) to your heart health(4) to how you store fat(5).
Unfortunately, letting these microbiota flourish and do their thing is not as easy as it seems. But, we're here to tell you that there is an easy way to boost your gut health, and that's controlling what you eat. But, before you go ahead and stock your fridge with Greek yogurt and sauerkraut, let us remind you another critical piece of the gut health puzzle: cutting back on inflammation inducing foods.
So, if you want to make your digestion smoother and your immune system stronger, these are the six foods you need to add to your weekly menu. And since no one likes sabotaging themselves, we also added the ones you should avoid as much as possible.
6 Foods to Eat For A Healthy Gut
It turns out that bananas can do a lot more than just load your body with potassium. This popular fruit is rich in prebiotic fiber(6) which is a non-digestible nutrient that stimulates the growth of the gut flora. With that in mind, research(7) concludes that eating bananas on a daily basis reduces bloating and improves gut health without inducing any adverse effects.
Friendly tip: If you are always on the go and carrying a banana with you feels like too much, you can always opt for these portable freeze dried banana bites. They contain the same nutrients as the real deal and are also super delicious. Adding them to smoothies is also a great option!
Another everyday food that's loaded with gut-friendly prebiotics is garlic(8). This versatile bulb helps kill all the harmful bacteria in your gut while promoting the growth of those who do matter. And if you are not a fan of garlic breath, don't sweat it. This dehydrated garlic granules will add a subtle taste to your meals without skimping on all the benefits.
Truth be told, lentils(9) are one of the most underrated gut-friendly foods to date. However, these small-sized legumes are an excellent source of fiber, polyphenols(10) and good-for-you starches, all of which contribute to your gut's microbiota growth. So, if you are ready to say goodbye to bloating and an irregular bowel movement, stock up on these dehydrated lentils and reach out whenever you gut health needs a reboot.
Also known as yogurt's tart, slightly more liquid cousin, kefir(11) is considered one of the most efficient gut foods today. Containing more than 50 species of probiotic bacteria as well as yeast, this fermented milk drink (if we can call it that) has the ability to modulate the host gut microbiota, all while improving digestion and reducing bloating.
Kombucha - a genius combo of tea, sugar, and... bacteria (yep, you read that right!) - is also a great way to sneak some much needed probiotics into your system. This potent drink is made from the fermentation of sugar, which is induced by adding yeast bacteria into your tea (or a SCOBY). But, besides the unique ingredient list, kombucha is also known for acting as a symbiotic(12). That means that it contains both probiotics and prebiotics which feed one another and help you get the most out of your gut-friendly menu.
For some, adding mango to their meals is an easy way of bringing the tropics to their kitchen. But, for those who are educated on the matter, like yourself, mango is a surefire way to keep your gut as healthy as ever. According to research(13), freeze dried mango prevents the loss of beneficial gut microbiota often induced by a high-fat diet. So, if you want to indulge in the occasional cheese galore without sabotaging your gut health, make sure to keep these freeze dried mango bites around. #healthhacks
4 Foods to Avoid For A Healthy Gut
1. Processed Meat
By now, we all know that consuming processed meat comes with a generous dose of antibiotics(14). While that may be a good thing for getting harmful microbes out of the way, these substances don't always discriminate between the good and the bad bacteria, meaning they may significantly weaken your gut's microbiome in a matter of days. To prevent that, make sure you steer clear of store-bought meats as much as possible.
2. Fried Foods
Fried foods are packed with unhealthy fats – nothing new here. But, besides increasing your waistline, a high-fat diet(15) also tends to reduce your intestinal flora diversity. That means that constipation and bloating set in. While this may sound bad, note that these changes are 100% reversible with the introduction of gut-friendly foods.
3. Sugar-Laden Snacks
Despite their sweet taste, sugary snacks can wreak havoc on your gut health. Why's that? Bad-for-you bacteria tend to feed off refined sugar(16), resulting in an off-balance microbiome. However, don't think that artificial sweeteners are any better. Experts(17) claim that sucralose, a.k.a. our good old Splenda, can also have the same effect on your gut health.
4. Genetically Modified Soy
When to comes to gut health, soybeans are not always the health food you may think it is. Research(18) proves that these legumes contain distinct amounts of protease inhibitors, a group of compounds that suppress the expression of key digestion enzymes. The most popular of these inhibitors is trypsin, which is usually found in genetically modified soybeans.
From improving digestion to busting a bad mood, gut health is everything to a healthy body. However, reaching microbiome heaven is more complicated than spooning up store-bought yogurt once in a blue moon. These six nutrient-dense foods will help you refine your gut-friendly menu by adding a variety of flavors and textures to mix and (why not?) finally reach the daily recommended prebiotic and probiotic intake with ease. Bon appetit!