From your digestion to your weight and even to your mental and emotional health, your gut plays a huge role in your overall wellness, which is why it’s so important to make gut health a priority. But with so much gut-focused content on the internet these days, it can be overwhelming to figure out what actually works and what’s just a buzzy trend.
Luckily, we spoke to health experts to Meghan Punda, nurse practitioner and functional nutritionist from Nourished + Well and Trista Best, dietitian for Balance One Supplements, get the scoop on some of their top gut health tips that actually work—and they’re not products that will cost you a fortune! They told us that keeping your digestive health in track can be as simple as eating probiotics, cutting out processed foods, and prioritizing fiber.
1. Prioritize probiotics
First thing's first: if you haven't already tapped into the power of probiotics, it's time to start incorporating them into your diet... like, yesterday! "Probiotics are living bacteria that provide countless health benefits when ingested," Best explains. "These bacteria are naturally occurring in the gut, but can be replenished through external means." Punda tells us that these live microorganisms "help to feed the good bacteria in your gut" in order to restore balance in the microbiome. "Think of them like fertilizer for your garden," she says.
You can get probiotics straight from the food you eat by incorporating fermented options (such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso) into your diet, along with ingredients like whole grains, garlic, leeks, onions, artichokes, and asparagus, all of which Punda says are "packed with prebiotic fibers that feed the 'good' microbes." You can also take a daily probiotic to ensure you're always getting enough!
2. Limit processed foods
Gut health isn't just about adding the right foods to your diet; it can also be about cutting certain foods out. Punda and Best warn against processed foods, which are terrible for your overall health. "Processed foods are often loaded with preservatives, unhealthy fats, and sugar," Punda says. "They lack nutrients and essential fiber and can disrupt the balance and health of the gut microbiome."
Best calls out refined carbs in particular, noting that "This form of carbohydrate, found in processed convenience foods, are highly inflammatory and feeds harmful gut bacteria." For this reason, she says "cutting out refined carbohydrates is one quick and easy way to improve gut health." Guess we'll skip those cheese danishes next time we're browsing the baked goods aisle... no matter how tempting they seem.
3. Eat more fiber
Consuming ample amounts of fiber each day is vital for so many reasons, and Best says we can add optimal gut health to the list. Just as with probiotic-rich foods, she explains that "fiber acts as a food source for good gut bacteria." This means that by adding more fiber to your diet, you'll be able to set your gut back on the right track and restore balance in your microbiome. "A diet rich in fiber
can keep the gut in balance and improve overall health," Best confirms.
Luckily, there are so many delicious high-fiber foods to choose from, like oatmeal, berries, apples, beans, whole grains, and loads more.
The bottom line
Just like every other aspect of your health, your gut health is personal. If you struggle with consistent digestive issues, your best option is always to speak directly to a doctor to determine a plan of action tailored to your specific needs. However, these tips are a great place to start in the meantime—you may be surprised by the impact these habits can make!