Improve Your Gut Health With These Foods

The importance of gut health cannot be overstated because of how big of a role it plays in your overall health and well-being. It even influences your serotonin production – 90% of that “feel good” hormone is produced in the gut.

Did you know 70% of your immune system is found in the gut as well? It’s where a lot of the good and bad bacteria live in your body, so it’s extremely important to make sure you’re treating your gut well and making sure it has all of the good foods it needs to thrive.

Sauerkraut

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Alain RIVIERE-LECOEUR/TOP/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Alain RIVIERE-LECOEUR/TOP/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

This probiotic powerhouse and German staple is also high in B vitamins and helps with the absorption of iron. To make sure you’re getting the most of your sauerkraut, it’s best to buy the freshly fermented kind you might find in your local health food store.

It’s a great addition to your meals as it helps to crowd out the bad bacteria and supercharges your gut with healthy live bacteria and microorganisms that can boost your overall health. We find that it’s best on hotdogs, but we encourage you to find what best works for you.

Tempeh

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Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Similar to tofu, Tempeh is a soy-based product best known for its ability to hold its shape when cooked and being a versatile choice for vegans and non-vegans alike. Not only is this soy-based protein a healthy choice due to its high protein (obviously), but it’s also low in fat, cholesterol-free, and contains essential minerals and vitamins.

The fun doesn’t end there though! Tempeh is rich in prebiotics which is known to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut and colon.

Miso

Miso soup
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

This lesser-known Japanese soybean paste is another great option for getting those wonderful probiotics. This incredibly nutritious paste is often added to hot soup and contains manganese, vitamin K, copper, zinc, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and the list goes on!

Just beware of your sodium intake, Miso is very salty and adding large quantities to your diet can be problematic. Additionally, you can add this paste to hot soup, just don’t add it to boiling soup. This will effectively kill the probiotics in your Miso!

Kefir

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Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Lifeway
Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Lifeway

This fermented drink, traditionally made using cow’s milk or goat’s milk, is a popular yogurt alternative and a rich source of calcium, protein and B vitamins. Some probiotics in kefir are thought to protect against harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Helicobacter pylori, and E. coli.

Kefir is one of the best options on our list for providing an excellent source of calcium and vitamin K2, which are essential for bone health. This is especially important for people suffering from osteoporosis as the nutrients in Kefir help to increase bone density.

Pickles

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John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

In an unexpected turn of events, the pickle rises to the occasion! Pickles, whether cucumbers or otherwise, are packed with antioxidants, good gut bacteria, and probiotics. Delicious, great for your gut health, and a low-calorie snack. The humble pickle, ladies and gentlemen.

Bonus if you can make them at home (you can find a few good recipes online). That way you can guarantee there’s no funny business and make sure you’re getting every single bit of those good gut health benefits.

Yogurt

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Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Your favorite fermented treat, yogurt has been held in high regards when it comes to its probiotics and other live bacteria. It’s even a good option for our lactose-intolerant friends due to its lower-than-average lactose content. Lactobacillus acidophilus is one of many probiotics found in yogurt, but it’s the one most responsible for reducing the lactose, which makes it easier for the body to digest.

It’s also important to stay away from brands packed with sugar, as sugars can decrease the number of good bacteria in your gut. And that’s obviously not what we’re going for here.

Kimchi

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Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

This spicy Korean staple is made of fermented cabbage, ginger, salt, garlic, onion, and chili powder. It’s typically fermented in a tightly closed jar and served with soups, noodles, or over rice. Kimchi is rich in both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium – Two strains of good gut bacteria.

Not only is Kimchi a great source of probiotics, but it can also facilitate healthy body development and clear vision due it’s high content of Vitamin A. It can even help lower your cholesterol because of the selenium and allicin found in the garlic that’s often found in kimchi.

Beans

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India Picture/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
India Picture/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Beans are naturally rich in fiber, typically containing 8 to 10 grams per half-cup serving size. Fiber is known to provide an increased feeling of satiety and helps maintain a healthy digestive tract. Beans also contain non-digestible, fermentable fibers called oligosaccharides that cause gas.

Gas isn’t always a bad thing though, it’s a great sign that shows the bacteria in your stomach is healthy, well-fed, and maintained. This process is then responsible for the prevention of diseases in the gut, as well as other vital organs in the body.

Polenta

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Michele Bella/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Michele Bella/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Originating in Italy but commonly eaten in Europe and the United States – Polenta is made by coarsely grinding yellow corn into cornmeal, then boiling this cornmeal in water, broth or milk. It’s a versatile dish that can be served hot or cold, soft or hard, and any time throughout the day.

Polenta is a low calorie, gluten-free source of fiber and protein, as well as being rich in complex carbohydrates. It’s naturally low in fat and perfect for someone looking to reduce their saturated fat intake.

Flaxseed

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Bildagentur-online/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Bildagentur-online/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Flaxseed provides protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as being a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Flax seeds contain up to 800 times more lignans than other plant products – which is linked to reduced chances of prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.

Adding flax seeds to your diet promotes digestive health and regular bowel movements. Just remember to eat flax seeds ground up, or your body won’t properly digest them and they’ll pass quickly through your digestive tract.

Jicama

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Keith Beaty/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Keith Beaty/Toronto Star via Getty Images

An impressive underdog on this list, Jicama has a laundry list of health benefits, including its ability to help manage your weight, optimizes digestion, reduces the risk of certain cancers, increases your energy levels, and supports your bone growth.

Make sure you’re eating the correct parts of the Jicama though. The skin of the Jicama root is tough, fibrous and can make you sick if you eat it. The skin contains a toxic chemical called Rotenone – Which is classified as moderately hazardous to humans by the World Health Organization.

Jerusalem Artichokes

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DeAgostini/Getty Images
DeAgostini/Getty Images

Also known as a sunchoke or earth apple – a Jerusalem Artichoke looks like a mix between fresh ginger and a potato. This tuber contains plenty of inulin, which stimulates the growth of bifidobacteria in your gut and helps fight against harmful bacteria.

It has a flavor similar to water chestnuts and can be eaten cooked or raw. Jicama is also very fibrous containing 25 percent of your daily recommended intake in just one cup. This fiber also makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight and control blood sugar.

Apples

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Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Apples? Are you kidding me? No! A recent study shows the inside of an apple carries about 100 million bacteria. With the majority being in the seeds and core. This beloved fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.

Cooking kills most of the good bacteria found in apples, however, so to make sure you’re getting the most of your good probiotic benefits, grab it on the go, chop it up, but just make sure you’re eating it raw. An apple a day, remember?

Blueberries

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Martin Schutt/picture alliance via Getty Images
Martin Schutt/picture alliance via Getty Images

This well-known superfood is packed with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin K compounds. These qualities give them the ability to ward off irritation caused by the bad bacteria in your gut that may irritate the lining of the intestines.

Here’s the best part though: studies have shown that Alaskan wild blueberries can slow down the formation of new fat cells, which directly impacts obesity management – making it easier to curb potential weight gain. You can probably see why this fruit is considered such a popular superfood now.

Bananas

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Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

We all know how delicious bananas can be when thrown in a smoothie or eaten as a midday snack, but you might be surprised to know that bananas are also a great source of potassium, antioxidants and both vitamins C and B6.

Bananas are also great for probiotics, containing plenty of carbohydrates that can’t be digested by the human body – which plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy gut. The high level of potassium content can also help regulate blood pressure.

Oatmeal

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Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Oats are among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, containing vitamins and minerals like manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc. As well as being high in antioxidants like avenanthramides, which are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties.

Oatmeal is an easily accessible, delicious and healthy breakfast for most Americans. In fact, Oatmeal can actually help you lose weight too. The beta-glucan found in oatmeal can increase your feeling of fullness, reducing the average calorie intake and decreasing your risk of obesity.

Cacao

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BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

High-quality dark chocolate, thanks to its cacao bean base, is an excellent source of antioxidant flavonoids. These Flavonoids are a diverse group of phytonutrients found in most fruits and vegetables and are responsible for increasing probiotic activity within the gut.

Your gut is craving chocolate as much as you are, just be sure to grab the right kinds. Make sure it’s a least 70% cocoa, low in sugar, contains no artificial sweeteners, and is organic. Who would’ve thought your favorite treat was actually supporting your microbiome this entire time? Long live chocolate!

Broccoli

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Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Broccoli is yet another great option when trying to lose weight and promote a healthy lifestyle due to its low calorie, high fiber content. This is perfect for increasing satiety in meals and helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time.

In addition to all that great fiber that supports your microbiome, broccoli also helps lower your chances of developing certain diseases like asthma, diabetes and other heart disorders. Raw or cooked, broccoli is a higher source of vitamin C than oranges.

Chickpeas

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Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The plant fibers in chickpeas feed the probiotics in your gut and keep them alive and thriving, which makes them a perfect snack to add to your grocery list. Chickpeas have been a staple in Mediterranean diets for thousands of years, and it’s not hard to see why. Chickpeas are dense with protein, vitamins and minerals. No wonder these legumes are considered a superfood.

Chick peas are typically enjoyed in hummus, alongside ground sesame seeds (Tahini), olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. These ingredients are often blended in a food processor and served with Pita Chips.

Wheat Bran

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Getty Images
Getty Images

Wheat Bran is often enjoyed in the morning as cereal but can be mixed into baked goods or added to the tops of yogurt or smoothies. Among its many benefits, the main one is its excellent source of dietary fiber content.

Just a half cup of wheat bran contains about 13 grams of dietary fiber, which is 99% of your daily recommended intake. It’s also helpful in preventing constipation, just make sure you’re introducing wheat bran into your diet slowly, along with plenty of water to ensure proper digestion.