Improve your gut microbiome naturally by enjoying a more gut-healthy diet on a daily basis. You can use this gut health food list next time you go grocery shopping, so that you can make better choices at the store and in your daily diet. Enjoying more of these delicious foods for gut health regularly will help to feed the good bacteria in your gut and starve the bad ones.
You can restore your gut health by eating better and practicing these gut-healthy habits daily. This can then lead to weight loss, reduced inflammation in your gut and overall, better cardiovascular and even brain health. Your gut health actually affects all systems in your body.
A very important part of your gut is the gut flora (aka microbiome), the trillions of bacteria that live inside your GI tract. The gut flora really is like a garden (that’s why it’s called flora, I guess!). A garden that can either be filled with weeds (the bad bacteria) or with beautiful flowers and delicious healthy fruits and vegetables (the good bacteria). It all depends on how you take care of it.
Gut Health Food List
In general, there are four types of foods for gut health that can improve the balance in your gut microbiome:
- prebiotics – fermentable foods that increase the growth and activity of good gut bacteria
- polyphenol-rich foods – these help to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria and increase the proportion of good bacteria through selective antimicrobial properties
- probiotics – fermented foods that have living beneficial bacteria. These can be especially helpful after the intake of antibiotics.
- foods rich in fiber and water – these can help to prevent constipation and keep your bowel movements regular
Here’s a list of the best foods for gut health and digestion
- Jerusalem artichokes
- black beans
- green beans
- Brussels sprouts
- sweet potatoes
- red pepper
You can download the list of gut healthy foods here. Please note, that some of these foods might not be suitable for you, especially if you need to be following a low FODMAP diet like with IBS or SIBO. If that’s you, check out this low FODMAP food list.
Is Meat Or Fish Bad For Your Gut?
In general, the foods you want to avoid on a gut-friendly diet include:
- fatty foods
- fried foods
- junk food and food with preservatives/additive
- foods that you’re allergic to (for example gluten or dairy)
While lean meat and fish aren’t going to feed your good gut bacteria they do provide essential nutrients like protein and zinc that are important for good overall health. Because of these nutrients enjoying meat and fish occasionally can help to restore the gut lining. Therefore it’s okay to have these foods in moderation even when you’re trying to restore your gut health.
Why Your Gut Microbiome Is Important
When you consume more of the plants on the gut health food list you keep the good gut bacteria happy. When they’re happy they can support your body in multiple ways. Good gut bacteria
- aid digestion and extract additional nutrients
- strengthen the intestinal wall and offer protection against pathogens
- improve immune function
This is important, because, our GI tract is where we get our nutrients from. We need those nutrients for cell function, repair and growth. No nutrients, no life.
The gut is, much like the skin, a tightly regulated barrier. Its basic function is to keep pathogens out of the body and let beneficial nutrients into the body. When there are more bad bacteria than good ones this barrier function is damaged. This can lead to the barrier getting more “leaky”, letting in pathogens into the blood stream (this is where the term “leaky gut” comes from).
The pathogens then trigger the immune system and from there can affect negatively all systems in your body from nervous to reproductive. You do not want the immune system to be overly active and inflammation running high at all times inside your body.
So, no, to the person who asked, the gut microbiome is definitely not a myth and therefore what we do eat truly matters.
Signs Of An Unhealthy Gut
Digestive issues are obvious signs of an imbalance in your gut flora, however, they’re not the only signs of an unhealthy gut. Here are some signs to help you recognize whether your gut flora is doing well or not:
- strong sugar cravings
- weight loss or weight gain
- nutrient deficiencies
- feeling tired constantly (don’t you just love this one)
- skin issues
- food intolerances
- inadequate immune system response
The good news is that with the right diet and healthy habits you can heal your gut and change the composition of your gut microbiome.
Will It Take Long To Improve The Gut Microbiome
Research suggests changes in your gut flora can occur within 24 hours after changing what you eat. However, this change will only last as long as you keep up your diet.
To improve your gut health long-term start consuming the gut friendly foods on this list more regularly. Start with smaller amounts if they’re not part of your regular diet. In the beginning, while your gut flora is adapting you might feel some discomfort. As these foods become regular part of your diet and the balance of your gut microbiome shifts, and your gut heals, you will find that it’s easier to digest the foods on this list.
I hope this list of foods for gut health helps you on your journey to restoring your gut flora and feeling better! For more gut health tips, don’t forget to check out this list of habits that can heal your gut.