It is likely that you know what you eat can affect your weight and energy level throughout the day, but did you know that what you eat (and drink) can also affect your gut health? With the ever-growing amount of research that points to the enormous role your gut plays in your health and well-being, it is important to feed your gut the types of foods that boast the biggest health benefits.
In addition to assisting with digestion, the good bacteria in your gut keep you healthy by producing certain vitamins (the B vitamins and vitamin K) and amino acids, supporting the immune system, and fending off harmful bacteria. More than 70% of your immune system is in your gut.
High Fiber Foods
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in food that is categorized as soluble or insoluble. Both types of fiber help with gut health by assisting with digestion and preventing constipation. Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel that’s consumed by gut bacteria through fermentation to produce health-promoting short chain fatty acids. Insoluble fiber passes through your digestive tract largely intact and helps provide bulk to your stool. This makes food pass more quickly through the gut which promotes regular bowel movements.
Good sources of fiber are:
- Beans, dried peas, and lentils
- Oat and wheat bran
- Dried fruit such as prunes and raisins
- Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, whole grain cornmeal, oats
- Fresh fruits such as apples, pears, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries
- Nuts and seeds
- Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, peas, green beans, and lettuces
Probiotic foods contain living microorganisms like the health-promoting good bacteria found in your gut. Eating probiotic foods can help boost your body’s population of good bacteria.
Probiotic foods traditionally were created through fermentation and a way to preserve foods before the use of refrigeration. The most common bacteria groups found in probiotic foods are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. When choosing probiotic foods, look on the label for “live and active cultures”.
Good probiotic foods are:
- Dairy and water kefir
- Dairy and non-dairy yogurts
- Fermented soy products like miso and tempeh
Prebiotic foods are the soluble fiber foods that are fermented by the good bacteria in the gut. They are considered a food source that helps keep these health-promoting microorganisms alive and your gut in balance. Prebiotic foods contain the types of soluble fibers that are fructooligosaccharides, inulin, resistant starches, gums, pectins, and galactooligosaccharides. These prebiotics act as fuel for specific bacteria in the gut and can promote the creation of more good bacteria.
Good prebiotic foods are:
- Chicory root
- Jicama root
- Dandelion greens
- Jerusalem artichoke
Diets that include high fiber foods and probiotic-rich foods help to promote a healthy gut microbiome and your health as a whole. If consuming high fiber foods and probiotic foods is a new thing to you, then introduce these foods in small amounts to assess tolerance. Too much too quickly can increase gas and bloating. With continued use, tolerance improves with fewer side effects.
About Organic Beth
Beth Blessing (Organic Beth) has a Masters in Nutrition and is the co-founder of Green Bean Delivery. She is a mother of three who loves supporting family farms and searching for unique, artisanal products. Her goal is to help others eat better and live a more natural, holistic life through healthy recipes and practical tips.