19 Best Foods To Boost Gut Health & Improve Digestion

Are you constantly suffering from an upset stomach? Well, you’re not alone. An estimated 60 to 70 million people in the United States are affected by digestive diseases.

Maintaining a healthy gut is key to good overall health. Your gut is basically your second brain. When your digestion does not work its best, you can get brain fog, fatigue, and become malnourished. You may start lacking essential nutrients your body needs to be healthy and have a good immune system. One of the best ways to improve gut health is by eating foods that are good for it. And in today’s post, we will tell you what they are. From tempeh, turmeric, cheese, and beans to sweet potatoes and more, read till the end to learn about all of them.

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#1 Almonds: Need a quick snack? Opt for a few almonds over that bag of chips. Almonds are high in fiber and also have some probiotic properties which help promote gut health. They are also packed with healthy fats and polyphenols, both of which are used by gut bacteria as fuel. Do you reach for healthy or unhealthy snacks when you’re hungry? Let us know in the comments section below!

#2 Kefir: When it comes to probiotics, yogurt is an obvious choice. But did you know that kefir, the tangy beverage made by fermenting milk with bacteria and yeast, is actually an even better source? You can drink sheep or goat milk kefir, as it is easier to digest than cow’s milk. It offers incredible support for your immune system.

#3 Tempeh: This vegan superfood is traditionally made from cooked whole soybeans that are slightly fermented. And like other fermented foods, tempeh contains probiotics. A study showed that this protein can increase healthy bacteria. You can find this tasty meat alternative at grocery stores next to the tofu. You can use it in burgers, salads, soups, stir-fries, stews, and sandwiches.

#4 Asparagus: Asparagus is a good source of prebiotics that feed beneficial bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics are carbohydrates or fibers that reach the colon relatively unchanged, as the body cannot digest them. Here they feed the friendly bacteria, encouraging them to grow and thrive. So, their numbers increase and outnumber the bad guys. Specifically, these kinds of prebiotics have been shown in studies to increase the number of beneficial bacterial strains.

#5 Flax Seeds: These seeds have a gentle laxative effect which can help relieve constipation. They are a ‘bulk forming’ laxative. Natural laxatives from plants with a high fiber content expand when combined with water. This increase in volume stimulates bowel movement. One tablespoon of either whole or ground seeds dissolved in a full glass of water once or twice a day is recommended. There is also some evidence that flaxseed may have favorable effects on the microbiome.

#6 Blackberries: These berries are one of the best berries the body can get—flavor-wise, yes, but also nutritionally speaking. In addition to their fiber content, blackberries boast the deepest hues in the berry family. Studies show that the deeper the color of a plant, the more anthocyanins it provides resulting in more benefits. Though all berries provide benefits, especially to the brain, blackberries have that extra boost of color that may yield added benefits.

#7 Oats: Oats provide a double whammy of fiber since they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. This means that they can move bulk out of the body and help to lower cholesterol. Though ready-to-eat cereals are often high in fiber, oats beat them out in a study showing that they were superior in controlling appetite and weight. They don’t have the added sugar many cereals have. Turmeric: Turmeric is a highly anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer spice to consider adding to your pantry. One of its main components, called curcumin, can help protect the gastrointestinal lining and positively impact gut bacteria. It also shows promise as a treatment for many gastric disorders like inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Due to its strong flavor, start off with small amounts of turmeric and work your way up. It’s a great spice to add to teas, dairy-free elixirs, and dairy-free nut or seed milk. 

#8 Sweet Potatoes: Who doesn’t love sweet potatoes? They are an absolutely delicious root vegetable that contains a wealth of Vitamin A. It’s a nutrient that is key for maintaining and healing the intestinal barrier, as well as supporting a healthy immune system. Sweet potatoes have a  specific kind of antioxidant,  which may play an important role in colon cancer prevention. They are simple to digest and emerging research shows that they can even trigger digestive enzymes. The best part is that you can use it in almost every dish, from soups, and stews to gluten-free baked goods. They are also wonderful roasted or mashed all on their own.

#9 Mint: Mint helps to relax your intestinal muscles and reduce spasms and pain. It also relieves bloating and gas. It can help address a variety of gastrointestinal conditions but is often used in irritable bowel syndrome to diminish symptoms and abdominal pain. You can use different varieties like peppermint and spearmint, either fresh or dried. Pair it with cacao powder in hot chocolate recipes, or you can simply steep the leaves in hot water.

#10 Sourdough Bread: This bread is fermented slowly using a wide range of bacteria and fungi found naturally in the air and ingredients. Commercial yeast is a single strain that causes bread to rise much faster. It is not known if the additional microbes in sourdough survive cooking. One study found that the bacteria don't need to be alive to provide health benefits. Many people claim they find sourdough easier to digest than other bread, but it is likely that the lengthy fermentation process is most beneficial. This is because microbes have had more time to break down the protein strands that might otherwise cause digestive problems.

#11 Cheese: Traditionally produced cheese can contain a huge array of probiotics from the natural bacteria. Some studies have found that these can benefit gut health. We cannot be sure the bacteria in some cheese survive digestion long enough to be beneficial. However, it is possible that other properties of cheese help preserve bacteria during digestion. Mass-manufactured cheese doesn't have this potential benefit because of the way it’s made.

#12 Beans: Legumes in general have been shown to benefit gut health due to protein and carbs. Beans, in particular, offer a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber is great for stimulating digestion, as well as feeding gut bacteria. White and kidney beans, for example, are often used in a variety of dishes such as salads, stews, soups, and grain bowls.

#13 Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate helps gut health not because of the sweetness, but because of how good gut bacteria interact with the antioxidants and fiber in cocoa. It contains polyphenols that help the production of healthy microbes in the colon. However, the amount of cocoa needed is rather large, which means the harmful sugar and fat would likely outweigh any real gut health benefits. You can still enjoy it in moderation. Look for higher percentages of cocoa as that means it contains less sugar. 

#14 Broccoli: This may not be enough to win over broccoli haters, but there is evidence that cruciferous vegetables contain compounds that break down in the stomach. They help the gut flora maintain a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria. Broccoli also helps reduce inflammation in the colon. Besides improving gut health, eating broccoli regularly can also provide your body a wide range of health benefits. Learn more about all of its goodness by watching “Eating Broccoli Every Day Will Do This To Your Body” Now, back to Best Foods To Boost Gut Health

#15 Whole Grains: In general, one of the best sources of fiber, other than fruits and vegetables, is whole grains. These contain indigestible fiber, which is fermented by the gut microbiota, producing fatty acids that help maintain proper gut health. Whole grains help reduce the amount of bacteria found in the intestinal flora that can trigger inflammation.

#16 Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is made from cabbage and salt. During the fermentation process, microorganisms eat the sugar present in cabbage and produce carbon dioxide and acids. The probiotics created during fermentation assist with digestion and add good bacteria to your gut. You can enjoy sauerkraut on a hot dog, substitute it for pickles on a sandwich or burger, add it to potato salad, or put it on a cheese plate.

#17 Yogurt: Yogurt is probably the most popular probiotic for good reason. It's made when good bacteria are added to milk, where they metabolize lactose to form lactic acid and other beneficial bacteria. Look for yogurt labeled "Live & Active Cultures" which guarantees 100 million probiotic cultures per gram. A quick look at the ingredients list will also show you if there are bacteria in the yogurt. Don't eat dairy? The probiotics in yogurt help digest some of the lactose. So, if you're lactose-intolerant, you may be able to enjoy yogurt. Plus, many companies now make dairy-free and vegan yogurts that contain probiotics.

#18 Garlic: Think of food as medicine when you cook with garlic. It may help reduce the risk of heart disease and is also anti-inflammatory in the body. It contains two main fibers which are a dynamic prebiotic duo. Don't be afraid of buying whole garlic. Simply buy a garlic press and you can put the whole clove in there without having to peel it. Garlic can be used to season almost any dish. Sauté it with onions and mix into a stir-fry or pasta.

While these foods can improve your gut health, you should not be dependent on food to take care of your gut. There are other ways to keep it in top shape.

What foods tend to mess up your digestion? Let us know in the comments section below!

The information I provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. You should never use content in my writing as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or another qualified clinician. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if indicated for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. I am not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information in this blog. Thank you.

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