- Your gut health can affect your digestion, but also your energy, weight and even your mood.
- For better gut health, eat more fiber and fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi, says a dietitian.
- Aim for a balanced diet with some protein, whole grains, and vegetables at every meal, like these suggestions.
The path to better health is through your stomach – eating the right balance of foods throughout the day can benefit not only your digestive system, but also your energy levels, longevity and even your mood, according to Bianca Tamburello, Registered Dietitian at FRESH Communications.
“Gut health is a great starting point for improving your overall well-being,” she told Insider. “Diet is extremely important for overall gut health. The foods you choose can either promote or harm gut health.”
Foods high in fiber can help improve your health by helping the beneficial bacteria that live in your digestive system, Tamburello said.
These friendly gut bacteria have been linked to benefits such as lower disease risk, research suggests.
To follow a more gut-healthy diet, eat plenty of vegetables and whole grains and try to get a few servings of fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi or kombucha a day, Tamburello said.
Enjoy fiber-rich overnight oats with chia seeds and banana for breakfast
Give your gut bacteria a good start by loading up on fiber in the morning, Tamburello said. She recommends overnight oats topped with banana and chai seeds, but you can swap in your favorite fruit, seeds, or nuts.
Fiber is known as a prebiotic because our bodies can’t easily digest it on its own, but the friendly bacteria in our guts love it. Those small gut bacteria that occur naturally in our digestive system feed on the fiber and in return produce compounds that are beneficial to our bodies, including some vitamins.
Oats are an excellent source of fiber, as are seeds and nuts, and all of the above also provide some protein to keep you feeling full for a long time after dinner. Fruit is too an excellent source of vitamins and carbohydrates for energy.
Vegetarian wraps with black beans and spicy kraut pack a probiotic punch for lunch
For a nutritious lunch, Tamburello recommends filling a whole-wheat tortilla with black beans and your favorite veggies, topping it with spicy sauerkraut for extra zing, and enjoying it cold.
This ingredient combination provides a healthy dose of plant-based protein and plenty of fiber. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are full of probiotics, live bacteria that can support our natural digestive microbes.
“It’s best practice to enjoy fermented foods cold to reap all the gut health benefits. For hot foods like heated sandwiches or macro bowls, place kraut or kimchi on the side or add just before serving to preserve the probiotics,” she said.
Tamburello also suggests you opt for raw and unpasteurized varieties—she has a partnership with Cleveland Kitchens and recommends their kraut—because heating and pasteurizing can reduce the beneficial bacteria.
Snacks such as hummus, yogurt and kombucha support gut health
Treat yourself to more healthy fiber and probiotics throughout the day with healthy snacks, Tamburello said.
Greek yogurt can be easily customized with your favorite toppings for a quick source of protein that’s also rich in probiotics, a double win for your digestive system.
Hummus is a versatile way to get even more fiber and protein into your diet. Research suggests that eating a few servings of legumes a day is linked to a longer, healthier life, and options like chickpeas and other beans count toward that goal.
For something to sip throughout the day, Tamburello recommends kombucha, a lightly fizzy, naturally fermented tea. Kombucha can be a good substitute for other drinks, such as sugary sodas and alcohol, both of which can be harmful to gut health.
Spice up a classic salmon and vegetarian dinner by cooking brown rice in bone broth
A good rule of thumb for creating gut-friendly meals is to fill your plate with whole grains and vegetables, Tamburello said. She also recommends healthy protein like seafood to round out the meal.
For dinner, she recommends seared salmon, rich in healthy fats, with roasted veggies and brown rice cooked in bone broth.
Whole-grain brown rice has the added benefit of extra fiber and nutrients compared to white, and can be an easy swap to make your meal more gut-friendly, Tamburello said.
Using bone broth instead of water to cook your rice is a smart way to boost flavor and also adds nutrients such as amino acids (building blocks of protein) and collagen, which can help protect the lining of the digestive system, absorb nutrients help absorb and prevent inflammation .
“It’s a simple hack to support a healthy gut and add a big boost of protein and collagen to meals,” she said.
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