How to Improve Gut Health
healthy gut is the key to a healthy body; it has been rightly said. Gut
microbiome play an important role in the achievement of optimal health. Poor
health of the gut is a risk factor for several chronic health conditions, most
particularly metabolic diseases and gastrointestinal disorder. It has also been
associated with an elevated risk of colorectal cancer, cardiovascular
disorders, type 2 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.
and environmental factors have a major influence over the health of your gut.
Did you know that in an average lifetime, approximately 60 tonnes of food
passes through your gastrointestinal tract? And it harbours more than 1014 microorganisms?
certain good bacteria such as Bifidobacterium
and Akkermansia species are conducive
to the health of the gut, harmful bacteria such as E. coli are also its inhabitant. Rise in population of these bad
bacteria results in infections and chronic health conditions depending on the
bacterial species. So, it is important that you maintain the good population of
bacteria. But, how do you do that?
Your GI tract is loaded with food each day that it has to digest, absorb and
excrete. As a result, it is inevitable that food has an influence on its
microbial flora. Now you must be thinking what kinds of food have a good
influence and what have a bad impact, right?
don’t worry, we got you all covered. This article will introduce you to the
best gut health foods and the worst gut health foods so that you can make an
informed choice in excluding certain food groups from your diet. It will then
provide you a list of supplements including natural supplements and artificial
preparations like multi vitamins, which you can include in your diet for the
best results. Lastly, it will help you in fighting the battle of poor gut
health by providing insights into mental health management in the face of gastrointestinal
Best gut health foods
is the key modulator of your gut microbiota, which derives energy from the nutritional
components of the human host. So, eating the correct foods ensures the
flourishing of good microbes whereas eating unhealthy foods will have a
converse effect. The best gut health foods are:
fibres are the most essential food groups that favour a healthy gut. Daily
consumption of 100 grams can help in optimising the health of your gut.
dietary fibres are not digested in the stomach, they directly reach the small
intestine, where they are used by the fibre – degrading microorganisms as a
source of energy. These good microorganisms then exert an anti – inflammatory
and immune – modulatory effect, which improves your overall health by
preventing inflammation and reducing the risk of infections.
health – promoting effects are seen due to the production of short – chain
fatty acids, acetate, propionate and butyrate, which are beneficial for your
health. Dietary fibres are found abundantly in fresh fruits and vegetables such
as apples with skin, cucumbers, broccoli and beans. They are also found in
whole grains such as quinoa, wheat and oatmeal. So, now you know what the best
foods to include in your diet will be.
is a naturally – fermented, nutrient – dense food that helps to improve the
health of your gut. Although dairy products are not best recommended for your
gut health, yogurt is one such food, which helps in overcoming the
dysregulation of your gut microbiota.
studies have found that it reduces chronic inflammation as well as it improves
the function of the gut barrier. Reduction of endotoxins achieved through these
mechanisms and the improvement of gastrointestinal peptides is what makes
yogurts one of the best foods for your gut health.
yogurt is a probiotic food, which can also be consumed by individuals suffering
from lactose intolerance. So, healthy smoothies with a base of yogurt can be
inculcated in their diets.
of micronutrients including both vitamins and minerals is considered to be a
major barrier inhibiting the growth of favourable microbiota in the gut, and
thereby preventing potential benefits for human health. Most particularly,
vitamin A, which is found in food sources such as carrots, beets and leafy
greens, is crucial for a healthy gut.
an inclusion of multi vitamin sources found in a variety of fruits and
vegetables such as oranges, peaches, berries, tomatoes, plums and melons is
recommended for best results. This is because a prolonged intake of these
foods, such as during the abidance with a Mediterranean diet has found
beneficial effects for patients with type 2 diabetes, since it aids in their
you are wondering, a Mediterranean diet simply refers to a plant – based diet
which includes increased consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts,
whole grains and legumes along with healthy oils like olive oil. Because of its
simple nature, this diet is the easiest to follow and is even associated with
weight loss effects. So, if you are confused with the list of too many good and
bad foods related to your gut health which you are about to find in this
article, you can simply follow this dietary pattern and swear by the results.
Additionally, you can include probiotics along with this diet, the effects of
which will be explained in a later section.
such as beans, peas, soybeans chickpeas and lentils are excellent for your gut
health. They contain high doses of dietary fibres, minerals and some of the
vitamins, all of which, are essential for the health of your GI tract.
intake of legumes will have more positive results for your health since it will
increase short chain fatty acids improving the anti – inflammatory effects.
with including legumes in your diet in an edible form, switching to a vegan
lifestyle, replacing dairy products such as milk and cheese with soy milk and
tofu will be effective for improvement of your gut health. This is because
research evidence has pointed out that consuming a vegan diet that includes
fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes helps to increase the levels of short –
chain fatty acids. It helps in improving the equilibrium of gut bacteria along
with increasing the growth of good bacterial agents.
although a component of the legume family, deserved some extra attention and
you will soon find out why.
is essentially a phytoestrogen food, which are plant – derived polyphenols that
are similar in structure to the hormone oestrogen. Soy is poorly digested in
the small intestine making it largely available in the colon. In the colon, it
gets converted into favourable compounds having anti – proliferative actions in
addition to its anti – inflammatory and immune functioning enhancing effects.
food products also exhibit antioxidant property through the modulation of
microorganism and free radicals. Due to this, they have an independent role in
maintaining the health of your gastrointestinal tract, particularly your colon.
50 % of vegans exhibited enhanced formation of equol, which is responsible for
these beneficial effects for your gut. Asians had a much higher equol
production when compared with the Western dwellers, that is, 60 % and 30 %
clearly gives you another reason to turn vegan, doesn’t it? And the goodness of
that soy coffee latte!
must be jaded with this gruesome list that only advocates for the consumption
of fresh fruits and vegetables for your gut health. Before you lose interest in
your own health, let’s announce another healthy gut food, which is not at all
yucky, if you may say.
chocolate contains phytoesterols, the same plant – derived estrogen – like
components, which can improve equol production being marvellous for the health
of your gut.
though dark chocolate is good, you may need to choose a pure dark version, in an
unsweetened form, in order to reap its gut – health benefits. If it contains
sugar, it will rather be counter – intuitive, why, you’ll find out in the next
loved delicacy, honey, is actually a probiotic food, which has enormous
benefits for the health of your gut.
studies, intended to examine the microbial effects of the consumption of honey
on the gut micribiota, have divulged that honey promoted the growth of good gut
bacteria. These bacteria then acted as mediators to control the growth of
disease – causing pathogens. Further, it promoted the growth of probiotic
agents, which facilitated the inhibition of disease – causing pathways such as
carcinogensis of cells.
compared with glucose and even fructose syrups, honey was found to have the
most beneficial effects on the health of your gut. Since fructose sugar is
naturally present in fruits, the findings of this research help to conclude
that honey is superior to natural fruits when it comes to gut health. But, make
sure to pick pure organic honey and also remember that its intake must be
combined with healthy foods. Topping it off on a highly processed waffle will
do no good for your gut health.
brilliant ways in which you can include honey can be through its combination
with fibre and vitamin sources such as oatmeal and fruits with soy milk. This
will provide you with all the major components of healthy gut foods.
Collagen – rich foods
at all you were not convinced by the idea of a vegan lifestyle that was
explained earlier in this article, you must be delighted to know that some
collagen – rich foods like bone broth, gelatin and salmon also have beneficial
effects on your gut.
further research is needed to back up these claims and reach a level of
conclusion, so that its unhesitant recommendation can be made.
Worst foods for gut health
like some foods are good for your gut health, some are bad, as you may have
guessed by going through the above list. Symptoms caused due to these bad foods
include stomach ache, fatigue, nausea or any other gastrointestinal side
effect. Let’s elaborate these foods so that you can keep them at bay.
you have a sweet tooth? Do you love that sugar rush?
there is some bad news. Consuming food products with added sugar like
doughnuts, candies, store – bought treats, waffles and even your favourite can
of soda, which is highly loaded with sugar, by the way, may need to go off your
– containing foods, particularly those with high – fructose corn syrup, increase
inflammatory processes in the body implicating poor gut health. Further, it is
linked to a high risk of a number of diseases including cancer. Since high –
fructose corn syrup is present even in canned fruits and boxed juices, it is
advisable that you read the ingredients before making any purchase.
foods with a high content of sugar increase your sugar cravings, so, you end up
eating more sugar and the cycle repeats, making your gut health go to worse
we have good news too. Natural sources of sugars like hand – pressed juices,
homemade jams without added sugar, fresh fruits with some yogurt and any
desserts sweetened with honey are still some of the sweet indulgences you can
must have time and again heard that processed foods are bad for your health.
Obviously, your gut is no exception.
food items include packaged cereals, ready – to – eat foods like kebobs, chips,
sausages, and all the packaged food items included breads. Just like sugar,
they increase inflammatory processes in your body being bad for your gut. However,
they also raise oxidant activity raising the levels of damage to your gut and
will elevate the risk of a myriad of health conditions including most types of
cancers and even organ failure.
meats including beefs, sausages, goat meat, pork and so on, are poor food
choices if you want to improve your gastrointestinal health.
evidence has indicated that the intake of red meats increases the levels of
trimethylamine – N – oxide, which is a pathogenic compound that is closely
linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. This is because a diet
rich in red meats reduces the total concentration of bacteria in the
gastrointestinal tract, that are, responsible for positive metabolic processes.
While it reduces the concentrations of friendly bacteria like Lactobacillus, it raises the
concentration of bad bacteria, resulting in much severe adverse effects.
Food rich in trans – fats
fats refers to food items that have been deep fried or highly processes like cakes,
pastries, chips, French fries, fast foods, microwave foods like popcorns and
they are convenient to eat, they are not as easy on your stomach, and accelerate
the inflammatory processes of the body. Inadvertently, they are associated with
an increased risk of cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disorders and liver
diseases. So, the best you can do is avoid them.
with the above – listed, some seemingly unharmful foods like store – bought
cookie dough, ready – to – make dosa batters, frozen canned vegetables and even
packaged iced tea can be harmful for your gut health due to high levels of
processing or sugar additions. Other than this, intake of genetically –
modified foods including genetic engineered crops contain harmful components that
have the potential to alter your gut bacteria. So, other than checking for
nutrient component of your foods, it is also plausible that you verify their
source / origin. This is because eating fruits and vegetables will still be bad
for your gut if they are prepared through rigorous bioengineering methods.
Sticking to locally – produced foods and organic farm items will be helpful.
Also, some people may be allergic to dairy, so, it is recommended that they
follow alternative vegan sources as well.
Best supplements for gut health
addition to yogurt, which has been listed above, fermented foods include pickles,
kefir, kombucha, kimchi, tempeh, and some cheeses and wines. The metabolism of
fermented food products requires microorganisms like Saccharomyces yeasts and
lactic acid bacteria yielding lactic acid.
studies have demonstrated that the intake of fermented foods causes significant
improvements in the gut health because of balancing of intestinal permeability
to microorganisms and barrier function. By acting on the gut – brain axis, the
consumption of fermented foods also improved metabolism and immunoregulation
along with promoting organ protection.
we think these are reasons enough to include fermented foods in your diet. You
can easily get most of these fermented foods at a local Japanese joint.
include the intake of live bacteria and yeast, which are favourable for your
digestive health. Honey, yogurt and sour breads are the most common examples of
probiotic supplements that you can include in your diet.
evidence has divulged that the intake of probiotics helps in soothing the
lining of your gut providing relief from the symptoms of irritable bowel
syndrome. It also helps in managing diarrhoea and other digestion – related
Apple cider vinegar
cider vinegar is another fermented food, which contains active dry yeast among
other ingredients. Apple cider vinegar is processed by the lactic acid
bacteria, and its intake is associated with an improvement of your gut health.
However, future research is needed to understand the exact mechanisms
associated with this effect.
than fermented foods, some of the supplements which can be conducive to your
gut health include collagen peptides, zinc and curcumin. Other organic
supplements combining natural greens, collagen products and probiotic
supplements can also be helpful. For individuals with a vitamin deficiency,
multi – vitamin supplements in doses prescribed by their doctor is also
Gut health and anxiety /
you are faced with anxiety or depression due to poor gut health, it is clear
that the mere inclusion of certain foods and the elimination of other foods
will not be enough. You require more rigorous lifestyle changes for the
management of both your gut health and anxiety. These changes include:
stress is a menace for your gut health since it triggers the process of
inflammation. So, stress management with the help of activities such as
meditation, relaxation and deep relaxation may be of immense help.
Checking for food intolerances
you are highly troubled by a bad gut, it is time to check for food
intolerances. A lot of people are intolerant to generally healthy gut foods
such as soybean, milk or even wheat products.
look for food intolerances, it is advisable to keep a food journal to track
down your daily intake. So, the day you have the most uncomfortable symptoms
such as digestive discomfort, fatigue or stomach ache, you will be able to list
out some suspicious foods. You can gradually try to eliminate them from your
diet and look for possible alternatives.
keeping a food diary will help in building a mindful approach towards healthy
eating ensuring that you intake the most gut healthy foods. Before replacing
any foods, it is essential that you undertake a formal test for food intolerances
in consultation with your doctor.
it true that you feel a bad heartburn on the day where you sleep lesser? Well,
what more hints do you need? Along with a healthy diet, an undisturbed sleep of
at least 8 hours is essential for your overall health and that of your gut.
is because it gives your body the necessary time to heal, and your gut, the
time to improve its powerful disease – fighting mechanisms. Further, optimal
sleep is also associated with reduction in stress, anxiety and depression
taking care of these concerns as well.
is the key to your gut health. Without proper hydration, your food will not be
properly digested resulting in waste accumulation, toxin production and poor
gut health. Drinking water has found to enhance the function of mucosal lining
of your stomach, which harbours the good bacteria. If you are unable to keep up
with 8 to 10 glasses, simply use larger bottles and sip water throughout the
day to ensure sufficient hydration. Alternatively, you can include coconut
water and highly – hydrant foods such as watermelon in your diet, which is also
a rich source of vitamins and fibre, thereby elevating the gut – favouring activities.
has been most commonly linked with poor gut health because of the proliferation
of unwanted bacteria. Exercise helps to manage obesity as well as it fuels the
metabolic and digestive processes of your body enhancing your gut health. You
can include simple exercises like fast – paced walking or can indulge in high –
intensity workouts or yoga.
bottom line is that the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those
with high fibre content like apples and broccoli are beneficial for your gut
health. Highly processed foods, foods containing sugars or trans fats and meats
are, on the other hand, bad for your gut. Overall, a plant – based lifestyle
has been found to be more suitable to a healthy gut, however, moderate
inclusion of lean meats, collagen – rich foods like fishes and bone breath is
also good. Additionally, natural foods like yogurt, honey and fermented foods
like kefir, kombucha and apple cider vinegar are excellent supplements that
will boost your gut health and will reduce the risk of associated disease conditions.