Through my journey as an online health + fitness coach, I am always reading, researching, and discovering new things in the health + wellness world…especially when it comes to nutrition. Last year I became obsessed with kombucha…not only because I think it tastes amazing, but because it has so many live probiotics and healing properties for your gut. My obsession with kombucha led down me a path to learn even more about gut health and other ways to improve it. I put together a Facebook LIVE video where I talked all about it, but I really wanted to put something down in writing as well for a quick reference.
Healing your gut allows your body to build a stronger immune system and produce the right kind of bacteria to fight off infection. All diseases begin in your gut, and restoring your gastrointestinal system can have major effects on your ENTIRE body. It not only affects your immune system, but also your mood, memory, digestion, and more. Certain bacteria can affect vitamin and mineral absorption, hormone regulation, and also eliminate toxins.
Some symptoms of a poor gut include abdominal pain, bloating, reflux/gas, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, and immune weakness. On the flip side, probiotic foods with healthy bacteria are helpful to make you feel great, slim down and be on the offense against infection. Prebiotic foods are also great as these are foods that probiotics thrive on. I will go into more details on these below.
So without further ado, here are 15 foods for a healthier GUT:
1) Yogurt – Yogurt is full of probiotics, or live active cultures. It doesn’t really matter if it’s Greek, regular, full fat, non-fat, etc. They are all pretty great for that belly. There are also some great dairy-free options (made with coconut, almond, etc) that are packed with probiotics as well. For myself, I try to look for a brand with a low amount of sugar, because this is definitely a food product where many brands sneak in those extras sugars. One of my favorite brands that is also low in sugar is Siggi’s!
2) Kefir – Similarly packed with probiotics, this is drinkable yogurt and has a bit of a tangy flavor. Check out this one by Maple Hill. Many brands of Kefir are also 99% lactose free for those with lactose issues.
3) Kombucha – I touched on this earlier as the gateway drug to my gut health research ;-), but kombucha is a probiotic tea that is both carbonated and tangy. It’s made with a natural bacteria and yeast that have fermented. You can make it from home if you can find the “scoby” to do so, but I personally love the brands Health-Ade and Brew Dr. – Pink Lady Apple tastes like sparkling apple cider! I have seen kombucha come into question many times for pregnant women, because of a couple reasons. 1) technically since it’s naturally fermented it can have trace amount of alcohol in it and 2) it’s raw, not pasteurized in order to salvage the healthy beneficial bacteria. Now, the alcohol part doesn’t really bother me as I’ve never gotten drunk off kombucha, let’s be real. But the raw part does make me a little nervous to be honest to drink while pregnant. I’ve always been told to avoid these types of raw foods while pregnant, and have decided to skip it at least in my first trimester, and I haven’t fully decided about the rest. I have seen and heard many people enjoy kombucha during their pregnancy, and I feel it’s just a personal choice much like eating sushi, certain cheese, etc. while pregnant. At the end of the day, I think it’s important to speak with your doctor and make a decision that you feel is right for you and your baby. That all said…kombucha is probably one of my fav things on this list, and if you haven’t tried it, you must!
4) Kimchi – This spicy Korean cabbage is made with lactic acid fermentation and does wonders for the belly! It’s a staple at many Korean meals, and you can find it at many health food stores and groceries these days or make it yourself! I’m not super big on spicy foods, but if I were, I would try this kind from Ozuke!
5) Miso Paste – Miso paste is made from aged fermented soybeans and can be used to make miso soup, on fish, or in a stir fry. It does have a high sodium content, so just be aware of your intake!
6) Sauerkraut – This chopped cabbage has been pickled in brine. There are tons of beneficial probiotics found in this dish which has been around forever. Look for sauerkraut that is located in the refrigerated section rather than jarred or canned at room temperature, because that is where the live, raw bacteria will be kept thriving and better help that gut. Bubbies makes a great one.
7) Sourdough Bread – This type of bread is made with lactic acid and contains friendly bacteria as well. Who knew? A bread that’s actually good for your gut! Sign me up! Whole grain sourdough is best. Bonus: for those with diabetes, sourdough bread causes a lower blood sugar spike than other types of bread.
8) Pickles – A pregnant woman’s dream!!! Though I have to admit, I have never craved pickles in any of my pregnancies haha. Similar to sauerkraut, you want to make sure your pickles are in brine rather than vinegar and those with live cultures are best. You can also pickle other vegetables in a similar fashion such as beets, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, and more. A great pickle brand is Bubbies and one of my favorite pickled beet mixes is from Ozuke.
9) High Fiber Plant Foods – These types of foods are excellent for the gut, because they are preventative to keep the belly in a healthy state. Some high fiber plant foods include vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
10) Prebiotic Foods – These types of foods are what those healthy probiotics love to eat! To keep the healthy bacteria alive, they need something to thrive on, and these foods are it! They include the fiber rich foods listed above, onions, garlic, asparagus, shallots, leeks, beets, cabbage, beans, lentils, soybeans, oats, whole grains, bananas, and mango.
11) Bone Broth – This is another one of my recent favorite things ever. ESPECIALLY when I’m sick. It’s SO healing, and I feel like I get over my sickness that much quicker after having it. It’s nutrient rich and helps to heal and seal the lining of the small and large intestine. You can definitely make this on your own at home with chicken bones (and it’s probably even healthier for you that way to maintain all the nutrients), but I’m a creature of “easy as effing possible” so I have only purchased it. My favorite brand thus far is Kettle & Fire, and I love their Chicken and Mushroom flavor! I have also heard great things about Bonafide Provisions.
12) Apple Cider Vinegar – I know many people who swear by ACV each day. It helps the body created hydrochloric acid and aids in fat digestion as well. I’ve never drank it solo, but I have enjoyed Mother Earth Organic Root Cider which is mixture that includes apple cider vinegar along with it also boasts roots, vegetables, spices, lemon, peppers, and more. It’s definitely worth a shot, and it’s a great kick start to your day.
13) Coconut Oil – Another favorite of mine to make the list! This medium chain triglycerides (or fatty acids) found in coconut oil may be helpful over time in balancing the bacteria found in your gut which can help with digestion, energy levels, and vitamin/mineral absorption. I always buy unrefined which keeps that coconut flavor. This organic one by La Tourangelle is fantastic.
14) Wild Salmon – Packed with omega 3 fatty acids, wild salmon can help to heal an inflamed gut. Eating wild salmon can help to ward off diabetes, obesity, and Crohn’s disease.
15) Collagen – Collagen is the most abundant protein found in our bodies found in our hair, nails, skin, bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Collagen supplements are wildly popular at the moment and can not only help strengthen all of those body parts listed above, but it can also aid an inflamed gut and slow down the aging process. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is the one I have seen most people using, and have also used myself. Again, always check with a doctor before adding any new supplements into your routine!
Welp, that about wraps up my research on gut-healthy food choices!!! I hope this was helpful!! Did you learn anything new? OR…do you have anything else you would ADD to this list? I love hearing from you all, so please share!
Let’s make it a great week everyone!