They say you are what you eat, but most people don’t take that literally — and they should. Your gut bacteria may stay in your gut, but it affects your entire body. What you eat determines how healthy your gut bacteria are. And, while it may not sound all that sexy, a healthy gut is just that!
If you’re worried about the health of your gut, what foods can you eat to improve your overall health? Here are three suggestions.
Are you getting enough fiber in your diet? Chances are, the answer is no. The average adult is only getting about 15 grams of fiber a day when women need around 25 grams, and men need approximately 38 grams daily. Getting enough fiber isn’t just important for keeping you nourished — it can also help keep your gut healthy.
Studies have shown that getting enough fiber in your diet can help reduce the risk of many different conditions. Everything from diabetes and food allergies to arthritis can be affected by the amount of fiber in your diet. Your diet doesn’t necessarily need to be high fiber — you just need to focus on getting enough fiber in the foods that you eat.
Adding plenty of fruits and vegetables to your diet is an excellent place to start. Fresh fruits and veggies have plenty of healthy fiber — but skip the juicer. While you can get the vitamins and nutrients from the produce in juice, it takes out all the fiber.
Skip processed fiber while you’re at it, too. Processed usually means there is less fiber in the product than there would be otherwise, so you’re getting all the calories with none of the benefits.
Keep in mind that changing your diet isn’t something that happens overnight — it’s a lifestyle change that can take some time to put into practice. Be patient and forgiving of yourself when you don’t adapt instantly.
We’ve all heard of probiotic foods — yogurts and other foods are marketed as containing probiotics that are supposed to be good for gut health, but what about prebiotics? Prebiotics are the foods that your gut bacteria feed and thrive on. The more prebiotic foods you eat, the easier it is for your gut bacteria to thrive.
Foods in the onion and garlic family are good prebiotic options, so stock up on things like leeks and shallots. Other prebiotic options like asparagus, soybeans, bananas, cabbage and lentils are good food for bacteria, so including more of them in your diet can help to improve your gut health.
We all love some good fermented treats — tofu, kefir, tempeh and kombucha are all delicious, whether you’re eating them alone or with a tasty side dish. Even fermented and vegetables like pickles and sauerkraut fall into this category. While these foods might be delicious, they’re also good for your health — your gut health, that is.
The bacteria that cause these foods to ferment can help to temporarily populate your gut, which can be useful if poor eating habits have decimated your existing gut bacteria. It isn’t a permanent fix, but it can be a fantastic way to start fresh while you change up your diet. Switch out your white bread with sourdough and replace your afternoon cheese snack with some yogurt to get those good fermented foods into your diet.
Fermented foods also help treat anxiety. Seriously, nearly 18% of adults in the U.S. suffer from some form of anxiety. Indulging in a daily kombucha may help diminish those anxious symptoms in addition to helping your gut.
You don’t have to take expensive supplements or spend money on a trip to the doctors to improve your gut health. Just changing up your diet by incorporating more fiber, prebiotics and fermented foods can help you reset your gut health on your own.