What to Eat (and Avoid) for Optimal Gut Health

It is becoming more and more common to talk about gut health. Tens of millions of bacteria live in your gut and are known as your gut microbiome. The state of your microbiome has a lot to do with your overall health, including managing chronic diseases, reducing inflammation, boosting your mood, and stimulating your brain. There’s lots you can do to promote good bacteria within your microbiome – and the big one is to watch what you eat!
Leafy greens with lentils and squash represent a healthy gut diet according to the Minimally Invasive Institute of Surgery in St. Petersburg, FL

Good Foods for Your Gut

There can be good and bad bacteria in your gut’s microbiome. Which one flourishes depends on what you feed them. You should try to maintain a diverse diet of fruits, vegetables, lean meats / seafood, nuts and oils to tend to the bacteria in your body. That also means moving away from high sugar, high fat, highly processed foods. Don’t worry, exploring food is fun! And you may discover some new foods you never thought you’d like.
Eat a high fiber diet. Your body may not be able to digest all the fiber, but that’s the point. Fiber keeps you full longer and makes you regular. Just remember to stay hydrated while you’re at it. The high fiber diet can include lots of fruits and veggies, beans, and whole grains.
Grab that (low sugar) kombucha off the shelf next time you are at the grocery store. That’s right – fermented foods are great for your gut. Kimchi, yogurt, tempeh, and kefir are all great fermented treats that your belly bacteria will love.
And what about pre-and probiotics? There is still a lot to learn about these supplements. They can be expensive, and we don’t know much about them, so we can’t definitively recommend them for your gut health. However, if they fit into your budget, there’s likely no harm in taking them.

Bad Foods for Your Gut

 A good rule of thumb is that most foods that feed the bad bacteria already have a reputation for being unhealthy to the rest of your body.
Step away from those artificial sweeteners. You may love them and you may think it is a better alternative than normal sugar, but your gut thinks otherwise. These colorful packets of artificial sweetener pass through your body without being digested, however, not without the microflora in your body having a feast that alters their composition for the worse.
You have heard about red meat and heart disease, but have you heard about red meat and your microbiome? A compound found in red meat (carnitine) interacts with the gut and produces a chemical that is connected to plaque buildup in your arteries.
Last, but not least: processed and refined foods. Processed foods have been stripped of what initially made them great, and your body misses that diversity. In addition, they are often high in added sugars, salt, or our previously mentioned artificial sweeteners.

The Bottom Line

A happy gut makes for a healthy life. You can turn your gut health around quickly by just altering your diet a bit to favor foods that good bacteria like to snack on. Try it out and see how great you feel. That isn’t to say that you can never eat your favorite snack that happens to be a bit processed, just do it in moderation.
If you would like to talk to a doctor about what you should incorporate into your diet to promote a healthy gut, give us a call today.