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Top Foods For Optimal Gut Health

Your body contains over 40 trillion types of bacteria, most of which live within your gut. The bacteria that reside within your gut are collectively known as your “gut microbiome,” a system that plays a critical role in your overall health. If your gut microbiome is not in balance — meaning, if there is too much good or bad bacteria — you may experience numerous health problems, ranging from bloating to type 2 diabetes to heart disease. For this reason, it is crucial to always keep your gut bacteria in check.

 

Though several factors affect the types and amounts of bacteria found within your gut, the foods you eat are a top influencer. Below is a list of the top foods that impact your gut health.

 

1.    Fermented Foods

 

Fermented foods have undergone a process via which the natural sugars have been broken down into bacteria or yeast. As a result, many fermented foods are rich in beneficial gut bacteria known as lactobacilli. Lactobacilli prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing the intestines and preserve the lining of the intestines.

 

There are several types of fermented foods that are great for gut health. The top contenders are as follows:


  • Yogurt

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kefir

  • Tempeh

  • Kombucha

  • Kimchi


Yogurt, in particular, has outstanding health benefits. For instance, people who eat a lot of yogurts have substantial amounts of lactobacilli in their intestines and low quantities of Enterobacteriaceae, a bacteria linked to chronic illness and inflammation. Moreover, research shows that yogurt helps to enhance the function of the microbiome as a whole.

 

In addition to stabilizing the gut microbiome, fermented foods contain massive amounts of probiotics. For example, just two ounces of sauerkraut contains more probiotics than 100 probiotic supplements. Kimchi contains even more probiotics than sauerkraut. As for kombucha — the increasingly popular fizzy drink — studies show that it helps to prevent liver toxicity and damage, induce cancer cell death and block the spread of cancer cells.

 

2.    Fruits and Veggies

 

Fruits and vegetables are among the best foods you can eat for the health of your gut microbiome. This is because fruits and veggies are high in fiber, which your body cannot naturally digest on its own. However, certain gut bacteria can digest fiber. The more fiber you eat, the more you stimulate the growth of this healthy bacteria. Types of fruits and veggies that are high in fiber are as follows:


  • Broccoli

  • Green peas

  • Raspberries

  • Artichokes

  • Chickpeas

  • Bananas

  • Apples


Whole grains, beans, lentils and legumes are also rich in fiber and, therefore, are also beneficial for the gut.

 

Other fruits, veggies and nuts, such as almonds, blueberries, apples, artichokes and pistachios, are high in Bifidobacteria. This beneficial bacteria helps prevent intestinal inflammation and enhance overall gut health.

 

3.    Prebiotics

 

Whereas probiotics serve to improve or maintain gut microflora, prebiotics feed human microflora. While both types of supplements are beneficial for the gut microbiome, prebiotics serve a unique role in promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.

 

Prebiotics feed several types of beneficial bacteria, one of which is the same bacteria that help to break down fiber and complex carbs. With the help of prebiotics, your body can easily digest both robust compounds and convert them into fuel for energy and other processes.

 

Many foods naturally contain prebiotics, including several fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Top sources of prebiotics include garlic, dandelion greens, onion, asparagus, apples, oats, barley, chicory root, cocoa and flaxseed, just to name a few.

 

Dozens of foods can bolster your gut health, ranging from fruits and veggies to yogurt and whole grains. Most of these foods fall into three main categories, as outlined above. Eat foods within these categories to get on the path to optimal gut health.

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