20+ Foods That Are Excellent For Gut Health
The health of the gut is vital to the health of the entire body. Within the gut, there are trillions of different microorganisms that include bacteria, fungi, and archaea, all of which live within the digestive tract and help keep things running regularly. Often referred to as the microbiota, this collective system plays a role in processes throughout the entire body, including digestion and the absorption of nutrients, the function of the immune system, and protecting against bad bacteria that can lead to chronic disease.
The microbiota can be negatively affected in many ways. A diet that is lacking in nutritious wholefoods and high in processed and sugary foods, for example, is just one of the means by which the microbiome can become damaged. Not getting enough sleep, being stressed for long periods of time, and taking antibiotics can also upset the balance in the gut and cause issues. There are ways to improve gut health, though, especially when it comes to the diet. Read on to learn more about foods that are excellent for gut health.
How can I improve my gut health fast?
There are a few fast and effective ways to improve gut health. For example, reducing the amount of artificial sweeteners in your diet can be a significant help. Studies have shown that artificial sweetening products can lead to an overabundance in certain organisms that can increase the risk of disease. Getting better sleep can also help to improve gut health in a short period of time. By maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm, you can help to keep the microbiome healthy as well.
So what foods are best for gut health? When it comes to which specific diet to follow, there is no one-size-fits-all option; however, research has shown that eating a Mediterranean diet – i.e. one rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low meat and dairy – can lead to an improvement in gut health.
Let’s take a look at a few more types of foods that are excellent for gut health.
Fruits and vegetables
The gut and the body as a whole need a wide variety of nutrients in different amounts to function at their best. The optimal source for these types of nutrients is fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help to prevent the growth of bacteria that cause disease. The nutrients found in fruits and vegetables include vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
It’s important to get enough fiber in particular, because that is what good bacteria feeds on. When good bacteria are able to grow as they should, it helps to keep bad bacteria at bay, leading to a regulated and healthy gut microbiome. Examples of foods that are high in fiber include:
- Green peas
- Kidney, pinto, and white beans
The balancing act between good and bad bacteria within the gut is fickle, but vital to overall health. One specific example of a gut bacteria that is beneficial to the health of your microbiome is bifidobacteria. Foods that you can eat to help increase the amount of bifidobacteria in your gut include:
Whole grains are rich in fiber, which is great for the microbiome. They also have non-digestible carbs such as beta-glucan that can help to promote the growth of good bacteria. Studies have shown that whole grains increase the growth of three specific types of good bacteria: bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, and bacteroidetes.
Some examples of whole grains that can be eaten to help improve the microbiome include:
- Brown rice
- Whole-wheat bread, pasta, and crackers
Finding a whole grain that you can consume regularly can help to reset the health of the gut and keep it healthy for the long run.
Fermented foods are good for gut health because they are typically rich in another type of good bacteria known as lactobacilli. Studies have shown that those who had good amounts of this specific type of bacteria from eating yogurt had decreased amounts of a specific bacteria (Enterobacteriaceae) that can lead to the development of chronic disease.
In the aforementioned research, yogurt was found to have many beneficial properties when it came to gut health, but there is one caveat. The best yogurt to consume is plain natural yogurt, as others tend to have high amounts of sugar that can cause more harm than good.
Another great addition to your diet is fermented soybean milk. Research has shown that regular consumption can help to increase the growth of the good bacteria the gut needs such as lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.
Other types of fermented foods that can lend a helping hand to gut health include:
It may be difficult for some people to focus solely on plant-based foods; however, studies have shown that eating this kind of diet is especially beneficial for gut health. One particular study found that vegetarians and those who ate only plant-based foods were found to have lower levels of bad bacteria that could cause disease.
Your diet and the health of your gut go hand-in-hand. Changing what you eat to suit what your gut needs will help to limit your risk of developing disease caused by an overgrowth of bad bacteria, and keep all other systems in your body running smoothly.