Closeup portrait, beautiful, pretty young woman in sweater picking up, choosing green leafy vegetables in grocery store

From Sharp Health News, a publication of Sharp HealthCare

Our bodies contain trillions of beneficial bacteria, a majority of them living within the digestive system, also known as the gut or gut microbiome. The gut microbiome affects the body’s ability to absorb and use nutrients from food; assists in the production of vitamins; and acts as a barrier against organisms that can cause illness.

Good gut health is important for your overall health and well-being and can be enhanced naturally through diet. Consuming both probiotics and prebiotics encourages healthful gut function.

5 ways to improve your gut health through your diet

Eat prebiotic-rich foods, which promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut and include:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Berries
  • Flaxseed
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Leafy greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Legumes, including beans, lentils and peas

Enjoy whole foods, herbs and spices in an array of different colors to ensure a wider array of nutrients and support an assortment of gut bacteria, including:

  • Deep purple cabbage
  • Red beets
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Blueberries
  • Golden turmeric
  • Fragrant cinnamon

Eat a plant-based diet, such as the Mediterranean diet. Placing an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes helps promote high-fiber intake that is gut friendly.

Include fermented foods. Fermented foods, such as the following, contain live bacteria that can support gut function:

  • Plain yogurt or kefir
  • Kimchi or sauerkraut
  • Miso paste or tempeh

Limit the intake of sugar, grains, sweeteners and saturated fat, which can negatively affect your health in a variety of ways, including:

  • Refined sugar inhibits healthy gut bacteria function and contributes to excess inflammation in the body.
  • Refined grains, such as simple, processed carbohydrates — white flour, white bread, white rice pastries and pastas made with white flour —have been stripped of beneficial fiber, vitamins and minerals, causing blood sugar levels to quickly rise and leaving nothing for gut microbes to eat.
  • Artificial sweeteners can alter gut bacteria and can potentially raise the risk of both inflammation and glucose intolerance.
  • Excess saturated fat can cause the bacteria within the gut to change.

Try experimenting with these nourishing pre- and probiotic powerhouse foods to enjoy the many health benefits of a diverse and thriving gut microbiome.

The VEBA Resource Center offers many Cooking & Nutrition Classes. Join us to learn how to blend the art of food and cooking with the science of medicine to optimize your overall health and wellness – all while having fun! Check out our calendar to sign up for an upcoming class.