Gut Health Is More Important Than You Think

Your gut health may not seem like a big deal, but it is. The gut is its own ecosystem filled with microorganisms and bacteria that help us digest food. Not only does a healthy gut microbiome help us digest food easily, but it also aids in keeping a healthy weight, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating toxins that may enter our bodies through our food. If your gut's microbiome is all out of wack, you might experience bloating, inflammation, skin problems like acne, poor sleep, and obesity.

An easy way to keep you gut happy and healthy is by eating foods that promote good bacteria in the microbiome, like fermented foods and foods rich in probiotics. Here's a list of foods that can easily be added to any diet to keep your gut in check!

Foods That Promote Gut Health

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

bottles of  bragg apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a vinegar made from fermented apple juice and has long been considered to be a miracle product that can be used in anything from salad dressings to cleansing your gut. Apple cider vinegar helps your body produce HCL (hydrochloric acid), which aids in digesting fats, carbs, and protein. Many people also swear that it helps with weight loss and blood sugar control. If you start supplementing your diet with apple cider vinegar, be careful with how much you consume. Drinking high quantities can lead to tooth enamel erosion and nausea. We recommend just one or two teaspoons a day mixed in with water.

2. Yogurt

yogurt garnished with pomegranate seeds

Regularly eating yogurt, either regular, greek, or non-dairy, is great way to add more probiotics to your diet. The probiotics in yogurt come from fermented milk and help remove harmful fungi and bacteria from your digestive system. It is helps people with irritable bowel syndrome keep their symptoms at ease.

3. Sprouted Grains

sandwich made with ezekiel bread

For people who have trouble digesting traditional wheat-based products, sprouted grain products are a good alternative. During the sprouting process, enzymes are released which make it easier for the digestive system to break down proteins and carbohydrates. An easy way to add sprouted grains to your diet is to switch from eating regular bread to Ezekiel bread, which is made from whole grains like wheat, barley, millet, and spelt. This bread is vegan, low calorie, low carb, and contains a ton of fiber for healthy digestion.

4. Mango

sliced mango

No need to feel guilty about indulging in an occasional tropical smoothie. Mangoes are really great for keeping the good bacteria in your gut alive. According to the Journal of Nutrition, mangoes help improve your gut health, while helping the body control blood sugar and reduce body fat.

5. Sauerkraut

sauerkraut on a fork

Though it has an incredibly pungent smell, sauerkraut, which is made from fermented cabbage, is great for your gut. Like other fermented foods, sauerkraut contains probiotics that fight against toxins and bad bacteria as well as help reduce gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

6. Kimchi

bottles of  bragg apple cider vinegar

Think of kimchi as sauerkraut's spicy Korean cousin. Like sauerkraut, kimchi is also made out of fermented cabbage, but also has different varieties that contain various types of chilis, vegetables, and peppers. Kimchi contains way more healthy bacteria than yogurt, so it's a great probiotic source for people who are lactose intolerant. In addition to promoting gut health, kimchi also has anti-cancer properties, helps reduce cholesterol, and promotes brain, immune, and skin health.

7. Garlic

garlic bulbs on burlap

Garlic, which is a member of the onion genus, is a great prebiotic, which helps feed the existing good bacterias in your gut. Eating prebiotic-rich food is just as important as eating probiotic-rich food is.

8. Kombucha

homemade kombucha in glass bottles

If you're not familiar with kombucha, it's beverage made from fermented tea and is loaded with healthy bacteria that's great for your gut health. Drinking kombucha can help with food allergies, indigestion concerns, lowering cholesterol, and bloating. Just don't drink too much - increased kombucha consumption has been linked to triggering acid reflux.

9. Miso

miso paste on a spoon

Miso paste a mixture of soybeans and grains that is fermented with salt water and cultured with koji. It's a great ingredient to use if you want to have a dish full of umami-rich flavor. Though miso has a high sodium content, it doesn't have an adverse effect on the heart like other high sodium foods do. Because it's fermented, it is rich in probiotics, which help keep the gut happy and healthy.

10. Onions

full frame of yellow onions

Just like garlic, onions, as well as Jerusalem artichokes, have a high prebiotic content. Not only are prebiotics great for the digestive system, but they also help improve the absorption of calcium and boost immunity.

11. Wild Salmon

raw salmon filet on wooden cutting board

If you're in the mood for seafood, consider eating wild salmon. The popular fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which have a high amount of anti-inflammatory properties and help heal inflamed gut. When shopping for salmon, make sure opt for wild salmon instead of farmed salmon because it has more potassium and less saturated fat and contaminants.

12. Dark Chocolate

dark chocolate with sea salt on wooden board

Who knew helping your gut health could be so delicious? Cacao, the unprocessed version of chocolate, has a prebiotic effect and is known to increase good bacterias bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the gut while reducing bad bacteria. To get the most out of your sweet tooth, opt for a good quality dark chocolate that has at least 70 to 80 percent cacao content.

Foods To Avoid

Though gut-friendly foods are easy to incorporate into your diet, there are certain foods and diets that you should avoid if you are concerned about your gut health.

Alcohol

Though it's fun to drink when you're of age, it's not secret that alcohol isn't the best thing for your health. Turns out, chronic alcohol intake is linked to changes in the bacterial microbiome in the digestive system and can contribute to liver disease.

Artificial Sweetener

Whether or not artificial sweeteners are healthy has long been debated for years. However, studies have shown an association between artificial sweeteners and a shift in gut bacteria. You might want to think twice next time you consume sucrolose, aspartame, or any other sugar substitutes because it may disrupt your digestive system's microbiome.

Food Additives

According to researchers, common additives like polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulose are culprits for intestinal inflammation and an increased for irritable bowel syndrome. While we don't expect you to check every single food label for these specific additives, we recommend sticking to a diet full of whole foods and avoiding low-fiber processed foods that are more likely to have extraneous additives.

High Saturated Fat Diet

High fat diets, like keto, are rising in popularity. However, if you decide to follow high fat diet, make sure you avoid foods that are high in saturated and/or trans fat. Studies show that diets high in saturated and trans fat increase the amount of bad bacteria in the gut and increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut, which can lead to all kinds of health problems.

High Animal Protein Diet

Having a protein-rich diet isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, make sure you get your protein from a variety of sources. Researchers have found that eating high quantities of red meat can promote bad bacteria in the gut and increase the risk of irritable bowel syndrome. Too much protein can also have some scary effects on the heart too, like cholesterol build up, artery blockage, and heart attack.

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