20+ Gut Health Foods to Boost Your Diet Today
by Jelena Vulevic on Feb 14, 2023
Eating healthier is one of the most common new year resolutions set by people all over the world, but probably one of the hardest ones to achieve. It's understandable. Breaking poor eating habits and maintaining a good overall health is difficult at the best of times, and even harder when leading extremely busy lives as most of us do today. However, not all hope is lost.
According to the experts, the key to sticking to a balanced diet that holistically supports our health is getting well informed and planning ahead, and the contents of this article should help you do just that. In this guide, we will focus on the specific elements you can add to your diet to improve your gut health, and offer you important insights as to how your digestive function is absolutely critical to your overall well being, so get your notepad and read on.
Why gut health is so important
People normally associate poor gut health solely with a short list of well-known digestive symptoms, such as bloating, constipation and abdominal pain, but rarely do they realise the influence it could have on other bodily functions. Studies all over the world have already proved the intricate connections between different parts of the body, such as the gut-skin axis, the gut-brain axis, and the heart-gut axis, by which intestinal microbiota can impact cardiovascular health and vice versa.
From skin conditions to mood swings - yes, certain gut bacteria make substances that can impact mental well-being and depression - what happens in your gut can either benefit or jeopardise your overall health, which is why a well-working gut should be a priority for everyone.
How diet contributes to gut health
Now that we are clear on why people should care about gut health, let's explore the importance of diet in keeping it in shipshape.
Our guts are delicate environments populated by a huge number of microorganisms that collaborate in the important functions of breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste, among other tasks. Factors such as stress, physical activity levels and quality of sleep can all influence how well this microbiome works, but our diets are still the number one way we can support or degrade the digestive function.
When we eat healthy foods, we not only help these microorganisms, also known as microbiota, perform well, but also expand their diversity, which has been found to be essential for optimal digestive health. A poor diet, on the other hand, can quickly throw off that balance, making the gut an inhospitable environment for the good bacteria and triggering harmful processes, which may ultimately lead to disease.
20+ gut health promoting foods
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, in addition to understanding how diet impacts our overall health and quality of life, adhering to good health habits requires a bit of planning.
First it's important to get familiar with the different types of foods that can help your body function well, and then start making small changes, slowly replacing your current go-to ingredients for healthier options. Trust us: resisting the urge to completely overhaul your eating habits through trendy crash diets will save you a lot of money and frustration in the long run. Lasting results are a product of consistent behaviours and extreme dietary restrictions are simply not something people can sustain.
Make it a priority to improve your lifestyle, and use the lists below to organise a menu with a couple of items from each food group, which are all important for gut balance and in supporting holistic health. The quality of your gastrointestinal microbiome depends on a diversified diet, so don't be afraid to change things up every once in a while, and discuss any dietary concerns with your doctor.
Probiotic or Fermented Foods
The main responsibles for our digestive health are the probiotics that populate it, and understanding how the different types of biotics work will help you make smarter food choices in the future.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that, under ideal conditions, work by supporting good digestion, fighting bad bacteria, aiding our immunity efforts, and many other essential tasks. While some probiotic species are certainly already living within your GI tract, you can and should strive to elevate the quality, number and diversity of this population by ingesting certain types of foods. The list below includes the best probiotic-rich ingredients you can choose from, but be sure to read the labels carefully. Fermented foods containing live probiotics and their beneficial metabolites, which should be in the refrigerated section of your supermarket, are the ones recommended to boost your gut balance.
- Yoghurts (dairy and non-dairy)
Prebiotic foods, although very trivial, are one of the most overlooked food groups, even by those actively looking to improve their digestive health. In simple terms, prebiotics are the fuel consumed by the probiotic microorganisms mentioned above, and have a direct impact on how well they will perform their functions as part of the gut microbiome.
During your next visit to the grocery store, make a point to add a good amount of the following ingredients to your basket:
- Beans and legumes
Fibres are a form of carbohydrate which our bodies are unable to digest, and end up acting as a broom that pushes food along the GI tract, while sweeping undesirable substances out of our system. Although seemingly simple, fibres are invaluable in managing the risks of a number of conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and even cancer. Its consumption also supports the growth and diversity of good bacteria in our guts, so don't skimp on the items below to guarantee the recommended 30 grams of fibre per day.
- Whole grains and whole-grain foods, e.g. whole-grain pasta, brown rice and quinoa
- Vegetables, e.g. potatoes with skin, butter beans, broccoli and collard greens
- Fresh fruits, e.g. mangoes, prunes, raspberries, apples and pears with skin
- Dried fruits, e.g. apricots, dates, raisins and figs
- Cereals, nuts and seeds
As the name already implies, this group of food helps us prevent inflammation throughout our organism, starting from the gut. There are a number of inflammatory processes which stem from digestive imbalance that generate undesirable symptoms in other parts of the body and, if left untreated, lead to accelerated ageing and even the development of disease. To avoid triggering these detrimental systems, you should adapt your diet to include ingredients scientifically proven to fight inflammation, as is the case of Omega-3 fatty acids. Have a look at these powerful anti-inflammatory food suggestions.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Walnuts and almonds
- Fresh fruits e.g. avocado, mango, cherries, grapes and berries
- Vegetables, e.g. bell and chilli peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, kale and spinach
- Fatty fish e.g. herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon
Supplements to support your gut health
While you can ingest probiotics, prebiotics and other gut-enhancing components through a regular diet, the addition of a dietary supplement can be useful in achieving faster results and guaranteeing that all of the necessary elements are present and in ideal quantities.
However, supplements are also not a magic solution. To give your digestion a proper boost and avoid wasting money on products that simply don't work, it's essential to select gut health supplements developed by trustworthy brands, using scientific data and methods. The Y GUT sensitive, for example, is a science-backed supplement capable of restoring the balance between your gut bacteria, gut immune system and gut barrier, while also minimising gut inflammation under stress. One of the ways in which it does that is by delivering the same metabolites that make fermented foods good for your digestion, but in a more concentrated format.
Hopefully this guide has made the task of eating healthier foods consistently more manageable, and you will now be able to make more conscious choices when visiting the supermarket. The key points to remember here are that your overall health will only be improved in the long run if you pay attention to how the ingredients you eat affect your gut function. Pacing yourself will also lead to better results when adopting a new diet, because you will be less tempted to drop all your efforts if the changes required at each step of the way are small. Finally, you should consider using supplements if you feel like your gut function could do with a boost, but don't forget to discuss this and any other dietary changes with a professional physician to protect health.
Small changes can make a big difference. Find out how Y GUT sensitive can support you in your journey towards better gut health.