Best Foods For Gut Health (2022)

An ever-growing amount of research points to the enormous role your gut plays in your health and well-being. In addition to assisting with digestion, the good bacteria in your gut help keep you healthy by producing vitamins, supporting the immune system and fending off harmful bacteria. In fact, more than 70% of your immune system resides in your gut.

Most people can enhance their gut health naturally through diet. Here are the types of food that boast the biggest gut health benefits.

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High-Fiber Foods Like Beans, Oats and Fruits

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods, and it’s categorized as soluble or insoluble.

Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel that’s consumed by gut bacteria, says Alicia Romano, a specialized clinical dietitian at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber passes through your digestive tract largely intact and helps provide bulk to your stool. “This makes food pass more quickly through the GI tract, thus promoting regular bowel movements,” Romano says.

Both types of fiber help with gut health by assisting with digestion and preventing constipation. Eating high-fiber foods also helps protect you from gaining excess weight and developing chronic conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some kinds of cancer, according to a review of studies inThe Lancet.

Good sources of fiber include:

  • Beans, dried peas and lentils
  • Bran (oat and wheat)
  • Dried fruits, such as prunes and raisins
  • Foods made with whole grains, such as whole-grain bread, whole-grain cereal and whole-grain pasta
  • Whole grains, such as barley, quinoa, bulgur and brown rice
  • Fresh fruits, especially apples with skin, pears with skin, oranges, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables, especially artichokes, broccoli, green peas, winter squash, and white potatoes and sweet potatoes with skin

Probiotic Foods Like Kimchi, Kombucha and Kefir

Probiotic foods contain living microorganisms like the health-promoting microbes found in your gut. Eating probiotic foods can help boost your body’s population of beneficial bacteria.

Common bacteria groups found in probiotic foods includeLactobacillus(often abbreviated as “L.” on food labels) andBifidobacterium(abbreviated as “B.” on food labels). Probiotic foods are made by adding microbes to food and/or allowing a process known as fermentation to take place.

Examples of probiotic foods include:

  • Fermented soy foods, such as tempeh, miso and natto
  • Kefir (fermented milk)
  • Kimchi (fermented vegetables)
  • Kombucha (a fermented tea drink)
  • Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
  • Yogurt, both dairy and non-dairy

When choosing probiotic foods, check labels for live, active cultures, which indicates the bacteria in the foods are still living. For instance, when shopping for probiotic sauerkraut, reach for refrigerated brands with live cultures. Shelf-stable, pasteurized sauerkraut in a can or a jar—the type of sauerkraut your mother may have bought as a hotdog condiment—is unlikely to contain living microbes. Living microbes are beneficial because they join the community of living microbes already in your gut.

Probiotics are also available in over-the-counter dietary supplements. However, there’s mixed evidence of their benefits, and the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) does not recommend the use of probiotic supplements for most digestive conditions. If you do choose to take probiotic supplements, the AGA suggests that you do so with a doctor’s guidance.

Prebiotic Foods Like Asparagus, Bananas and Garlic

It’s not enough to eat plenty of probiotic-rich foods—you also have to eat foods that help keep these health-promoting microorganisms alive.

That’s where certain types of soluble fiber called prebiotics come in. Think of them as nutrient-dense food for your healthy gut microbes; when you eat prebiotic foods, you effectively feed the good bacteria that keeps your gut in balance.

Prebiotic foods contain compounds, such as fructooligosaccharides, inulin and galactooligosaccharides, which are types of soluble dietary fiber. “Prebiotics act as fuel for specific bacteria in the gut, thus having the ability to promote the creation of more good bacteria,” says Romano.

Good prebiotic foods include:

  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Chicory
  • Garlic
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Leeks
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Soybeans

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Synbiotic Foods Like Yogurt Paired With Blueberries

Synbiotic foods combine prebiotics and probiotics into a single, uber-healthy gut microbe-supporting meal. These foods provide the pros of prebiotics and probiotics at once, supporting existing gut bacteria and delivering additional living cultures to your gut.

Some examples of synbiotic foods include:

  • A banana smoothie made with kefir or yogurt
  • Stir-fry made with tempeh, asparagus, garlic and leeks
  • Yogurt with blueberries

To make these foods even better for your gut, add high-fiber ingredients, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits or legumes.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods Like Fatty Fish, Flax Seeds and Walnuts

Inflammation occurs when your body releases white blood cells and other compounds to protect you from infection. This reaction benefits you when you actually have an infection, but sometimes your body goes into a type of inflammatory overdrive even when no infection exists, dispersing inflammatory chemicals such as cytokines when you don’t need them. This process can contribute to or worsen gastrointestinal conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Anti-inflammatory foods contain nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, that can help cool down inflammation. “These play a role in the natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory pathways of the body, which may also promote the health of the gut,” Romano says.

Helpful anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines and anchovies
  • Flax seeds
  • Fruits, such as berries and grapes
  • Vegetables, such as broccoli, peppers and tomatoes
  • Walnuts

A Varied Diet Improves Gut Health Naturally

Filling your daily diet with a range of foods is an excellent way to boost your gut microbiome—and your health as a whole. “An abundance of nutrients from a variety of foods is key to positively impacting your gut,” says Romano. “The more varied the diet as a whole, the more access the gut has to an array of beneficial nutrients.”

And don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Water not only enables fiber to do its job properly in your gut, but also helps keep your digestive system—and the rest of your body—running smoothly. “Adequate fluid intake is essential for the health of all organ systems, as well as the health of our gut,” says Romano.

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Sources

Hills RD Jr, Pontefract BA, Mishcon HR, Black CA, Sutton SC, Theberge CR. Gut microbiome: Profound implications for diet and disease. Nutrients. 2019;11(7):1613.

Singh RK, Chang HW, Yan D. Influence of diet on the gut microbiome and implications for human health. J Transl Med. 2017;15(1):73.

Frati F, Salvatori C, Incorvaia C. The role of the microbiome in asthma: The gut-lung axis. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;20(1):123.

Reynolds A, Mann J, Cummings J, Winter N, Mete E, Te Morenga L. Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Lancet. 2019;393(10170):434-445.

Soluble vs insoluble fiber. MedlinePlus. Accessed 03/17/2021.

Carlson JL, Erickson JM, Lloyd BB, Slavin JL. Health effects and sources of prebiotic dietary fiber. Curr Dev Nutr. 2018;2(3):nzy005.

AGA does not recommend the use of probiotics for most digestive conditions. American Gastroenterological Association. Accessed 03/17/2021.

(Video) The best Probiotic foods to improve gut health | Dr. Hansaji Yogendra

Monda V, Villano I, Messina A, et al. Exercise modifies the gut microbiota with positive health effects. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017.

Probiotics for the treatment of adult gastrointestinal disorders. American College of Gastroenterology. Accessed 03/17/2021.

FAQs

What foods help repair gut? ›

To combat leaky gut, eat foods that promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, including fruits, cultured dairy products, healthy fats, lean meats, and fibrous and fermented vegetables. Avoid processed and refined junk foods.

What are the 3 super foods for your gut? ›

6 superfoods to add to your diet to improve your gut health:
  • Ginger. Ginger is known for its contribution to good digestion. ...
  • Oats. Oats and various other whole grains are very beneficial and healthy for your gut health. ...
  • Kombucha. ...
  • Apples. ...
  • Flaxseeds. ...
  • Onions.
10 Jun 2022

What is the fastest way to improve gut health? ›

6 Ways to Improve Gut Health
  1. Eat more whole grains, nuts, load up on veggies, beans and fresh fruits. ...
  2. The link between your teeth and your gut. ...
  3. Eat fermented foods that have beneficial bacteria. ...
  4. Eat more dark chocolate and foods with polyphenols. ...
  5. Blend in the spices. ...
  6. Limit artificial sweeteners.

How can I clean my gut naturally? ›

Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is a great way to regulate digestion. Drinking lukewarm water has been shown to be good for digestion as well. Also, try eating plenty of foods high in water content. This includes fruits and vegetables like watermelons, tomatoes, lettuce, and celery.

How can I reset my gut naturally? ›

In this article, we list 10 scientifically supported ways to improve the gut microbiome and enhance overall health.
  1. Take probiotics and eat fermented foods. ...
  2. Eat prebiotic fiber. ...
  3. Eat less sugar and sweeteners. ...
  4. Reduce stress. ...
  5. Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily. ...
  6. Exercise regularly. ...
  7. Get enough sleep.
26 Oct 2020

Is Egg good for gut health? ›

The results suggest that moderate egg consumption may improve vascular and intestinal function in individuals with low risk of developing CVD and other metabolic disorders. Eggs are rich in essential proteins, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, and high in cholesterol and choline (Andersen, 2015).

What fruit has the most probiotics? ›

They work with probiotics, which are healthful bacteria or yeasts, to improve health.
...
Fruits with a high prebiotic content include:
  • Bananas. Bananas are beneficial for the gut and contain naturally occurring fibers that help increase good bacteria and reduce bloating. ...
  • Custard apples. ...
  • Watermelon. ...
  • Grapefruit.

How can I get my gut healthy again? ›

Certain foods and healthy lifestyle habits can improve your gut health naturally.
  1. Eat Fiber-Rich and Probiotic-Packed Foods. ...
  2. Consider a Supplement. ...
  3. Exercise Often. ...
  4. Limit Your Alcohol Intake. ...
  5. Reduce Stress Levels.
24 Jun 2022

How can I rebuild my gut lining? ›

Vitamin D and an amino acid called L-glutamine may specifically help repair your gut lining. Low FODMAP Diet. This specific diet is often suggested for people who have IBS and certain food sensitivities because it systematically eliminates most of the common food triggers.

How do I know my gut is healing? ›

The biggest way to tell if your leaky gut is healing is when your energy and vitality have returned, you've regained mental clarity, your mood has improved, you've returned to your ideal weight, and you feel like your best self. It's important to remember that, as with most health concerns, gut health is on a spectrum.

What are the symptoms of leaky gut? ›

What are the symptoms of leaky gut?
  • Chronic diarrhea, constipation, or bloating.
  • Nutritional deficiencies.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Confusion.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Skin problems, such as acne, rashes, or eczema.
  • Joint pain.

Videos

1. 5 Prebiotic Superfoods for BETTER GUT health!!
(Gundry MD)
2. HEALING MY GUT | the 5 things I do to get rid of bloating, gas, and digestive issues
(Kylie Ross)
3. Best Foods for Healthy Gut Bacteria | The Exam Room Podcast
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4. Best Foods For Gut Health | Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Live Q&A on The Exam Room
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5. 7 Signs Of Unhealthy Gut And How To Improve Gut Health?
(Sameer Islam MD)
6. Eat These Spices for a Healthy Gut | Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Live Q&A
(Physicians Committee)

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