If you’re at all checked in to the world of wellness, you know that gut health is a very buzzy topic right now. Keeping up with your microbiome is all the rage, so I decided to check in with a few nutritionists for their must-have tips for a healthier gut.
I was expecting a variety of advice, including prioritizing sleep, exercising more, taking probiotic supplements and eating, like, miso.
Instead, all three nutritionists I talked to had the exact same tip: Eat more probiotic foods.
Clinical nutritionist Sharon Brown explained, “Many people with digestive issues want to run to supplements and powders, but the first and most powerful step you can take toward healing and supporting your gut is to start with a diet that is based on eating foods that support gut health.” What kinds of probiotic foods? Brown told us some of her favorites are fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchee, yogurt and bone broth—they contain nutrients like collagen and glutamine, which support the integrity of the gut lining.
Nicolette Pace, a registered dietitian, chef and nutritionist, added that since the specific health benefits of different probiotic strains are still being researched, it’s important to eat a wide variety of probiotic foods to cover all your bases. “Not any one single food contains all strains of probiotic bacteria for a healthy gut microbiome,” she told us. Still, it’s OK to play favorites when it comes to probiotic-packed snacks. For Hillary Cecere, a registered dietitian and the nutritionist for the meal delivery service Eat Clean Bro, that means eating lots of kefir, a fermented milk drink that’s kind of like a thin yogurt.
And it’s not just probiotic foods that could help promote a healthy gut. Prebiotics, types of dietary fiber that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut, are also crucial. A 2018 study conducted by researchers at King’s College London found that prebiotic fibers in certain foods might be more beneficial for the gut than others. Among those foods is garlic, which is naturally high in inulin, a type of nondigestible carbohydrate or “functional fiber” that feeds the good bacteria in your digestive system. Per a study in Food Science and Human Wellness, garlic actually promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut and prevents disease-promoting bacteria from growing at the same time.
It’s time to stock up on kimchi, friends.