The best foods for gut health don’t just keep your tummy happy.
They optimize your body and mind.
Unfortunately, bad foods can just as easily destroy your health.
What’s the solution?
Quite simply, eat more healthy foods and avoid the bad ones.
In this article, we talk about the importance of gut health, which foods to eat and which ones to avoid.
Let’s get started!
What Is the Microbiome?
The microbiome is the collection of single-celled organisms that live in your gut, including:
…and other microbiota.
However, what you may find most surprising is that bacteria isn’t all that bad.
In fact, there are plenty of “good” bacteria that you need in order to stay healthy.
Let’s take a closer look at why gut health is such a big deal…
Why Gut Health Matters
The organisms in your gut affect nearly every aspect of health.
Believe it or not, research shows that gut health may impact: (1)
- Live health
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
When the types of microorganisms in your gut are out of whack, it can lead to a whole bunch of problems.
Here’s how to tell if your gut health is suffering:
How to Tell If Your Gut Health Is Suffering
1. Your stomach is upset
This one might seem like a given, but if your belly is tossing and turning it’s not a good thing.
Obvious symptoms of poor gut health include:
- Acid reflux
…and the list goes on.
2. Your weight has changed
Did you know that your gut bacteria talks to your brain?
This means that your microbiome has a big impact on food cravings.
For example, if you eat too much sugar and carbs, you’ll develop bacteria that SCREAMS FOR SUGAR.
If you suddenly gain weight, your gut bacteria may be to blame.
3. You feel stressed, anxious, depressed or tired
If your mental health is suffering, there’s a good chance that your gut is too.
Surprisingly, the bacteria in the microbiome produce mood-enhancing compounds like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.
At the same time, poor gut bacteria can weaken the gut.
Ultimately, inflammation leaks into the bloodstream, travels to the brain, and causes it to go haywire.
4. You develop a skin condition
Inflammation that starts in the gut can lead to inflammation in the skin.
The end result?
Skin conditions like psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema.
Blue Zones: What the Longest-Living People Eat
In places like Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, and Nicoya, Costa Rica, people live to 100+ years all the time.
What makes them so special?
In 2005, National Geographic sent scientists around the world to find out.
Here’s what they discovered:
- People spend more time with friends and family
- They incorporate light exercise into their daily routines (but don’t necessarily hit the gym)
- When it comes to diet, they eat less sugar and more healthy fats
Since the study, communities throughout the US have been able to increase life expectancy by following their guidelines. (2)
5 Worst Foods for Gut Health
Gluten is a type of protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye.
It also sneaks into a lot of processed foods because it helps the ingredients stick together.
Even if you aren’t officially allergic to gluten, it can still increase inflammation and weaken the gut lining.
No shocking news here—sugar is bad for health and it’s especially bad for the gut.
The bottom line is, sugar is fuel for bad gut bacteria.
Unfortunately, sugar is hard to avoid.
It goes by many names, like high fructose corn syrup and sucralose.
The more sugar you eat, the faster the bad bacteria grow.
Instead, try to eat more dense fiber that fuels good gut bacteria, but more on that later…
3. Fried Foods
Not all oils are bad, but the oils used in commercial kitchens usually are.
Fried foods typically contain inflammatory oils like:
The fact is, your gut wasn’t designed to process these oils.
Ultimately, processed oils can damage the microbiome and let inflammation spread throughout the body.
Some folks are more sensitive to dairy than others.
However, dairy is inflammatory and should be avoided, even if you don’t notice any obvious side effects.
Diets high in dairy tend to have more gut health issues like IBS.
Most soy products are heavily processed and genetically modified.
This makes them less than ideal for your body.
However, the real problem is that studies have found that diets high in soy have higher rates of harmful gut bacteria.
10 Best Foods for Gut Health
1. Bone Broth
Is bone broth the ultimate gut health superfood?
I just might be…
That’s because it’s loaded with collagen and amino acids like glycine and proline.
Collagen is a protein that gives structures to your cells.
Most importantly, it strengthens the gut lining and repairs damaged cell walls.
Amino acids play a similar role.
They’re the building blocks that the body uses to make proteins—the same proteins used to fix a leaky gut.
When it’s all said and done, bone broth is loaded with ingredients that support digestion.
In fact, many patients have been able to heal the leaky gut with just a three-day bone broth fast!
Bone broth is made by simmering the bones, ligaments, and cartilage of cows and chickens.
But that’s not all…
Bone broth also contains gelatin that is built from glutamine and glycine.
Studies show that gelatin binds to fluid in the digestive tract and helps food move more easily. (3)
The glutamine in bone broth also protects the intestinal wall.
As a matter of fact, it’s also been proven to heal IBS and leaky gut. (4)
2. Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is full of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs).
These are healthy fats that are easier for the body to digest.
More importantly, they work well with leaky gut.
Impressively, coconut oil is 60 percent MCFAs.
They bypass normal digestion and head straight to the liver where the body can put them to use.
Ultimately, this makes them a great source of fat for people with IBS or gallbladder disease.
Plus, coconut oil has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties.
And of course…it’s DELICIOUS!
3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is one of the few foods that is on almost everyone’s healthy food list.
That’s because it contains tons of healthy fats with many benefits, including gut health.
As it turns out, olive oil is loaded with antioxidants called polyphenols that fuel good gut bacteria.
Plus, it has a bright and smooth flavor that makes it a tasty topping for salads.
Ginger is a root in the same family as turmeric.
It has a spicy taste and a bucketful of health benefits, including:
- Relaxes the stomach
- Treats nausea (5)
- Aids digestion
- Prevents bloating
- Speed digestion
At the same time, ginger contains magnesium, vitamin C, copper, manganese, and potassium.
Ginger can also be an effective way for pregnant women to treat morning sickness. (6)
5. Wild-Caught Fish
Fish like salmon and sardines are full of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omegas are anti-inflammatory powerhouses.
Not only do they reduce inflammation in the gut, but they also fight inflammation in the blood, joints, and brain.
Salmon, in particular, is an excellent source of omega-3s.
In fact, they can be especially effective at reducing inflammation in patients with autoimmune conditions. (7)
When it comes down to it, wild-caught fish can improve digestion by putting inflammation in its place.
6. Fermented Vegetables
Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi contain probiotics that support the microbiome.
Probiotics are active good bacteria.
In other words, they’re ALIVE.
Research shows that just half a cup of sauerkraut can contain up to 28 distinct bacterial strains that feed beneficial belly bugs. (8)
At the same time, these bacteria break down nutrients into easier-to-digest molecules.
Kimchi is a Korean dish that’s made from cabbage and other fermented veggies like carrots.
Like sauerkraut, the longer the kimchi ferments, the higher the concentration of probiotics.
7. Dark Green Vegetables
Dark green vegetables like kale, chard, and spinach are a jackpot of insoluble fiber.
In other words, it contains nutrients that survive deep into the intestinal tract.
Broccoli and Brussel sprouts are in the same department too.
Not only do they feed good gut bacteria, but they also add bulk to your stool. (9)
As a result, green leafy veggies can help with constipation as well.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar helps break down food by stimulating digestive juices.
At the same time, it has antimicrobial and antiviral properties that reduce the growth of bad bacteria.
Plus, apple cider vinegar can also help the body get rid of excess candida and prevent yeast infections.
When it’s all said and done, apple cider vinegar supports a healthy immune system as well.
Papaya is a low-sugar fruit that contains a special digestive enzyme called papain.
Papain is only found in papaya.
It helps the body break down protein fibers in meat.
At the same time, papain is known to ease symptoms of IBS like constipation and bloating. (10)
Time to freshen up that breath for dessert!
Peppermint contains essential oils that can improve digestion.
For example, compound menthol may reduce symptoms of IBS and bowel movement issues. (11)
If you have any more questions about the best foods for gut health, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.