- 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, a dietitian says.
- Aim for a balanced diet with some protein, whole grains, and veggies at each meal like these suggestions.
The way to better health is through your stomach — eating the right balance of foods throughout the day can benefit not just your digestion but your energy levels, longevity, and even your mood, according to Bianca Tamburello, registered dietitian at FRESH Communications.
“Gut health is a great starting point to improve your overall wellness,” she told Insider. “Diet is extremely important for overall gut health. The foods you choose can promote or hurt gut health.”
Foods that are high in fiber can help boost your health by aiding the beneficial bacteria that live in your digestive system, Tamburello said.
These friendly gut bacteria have been linked to benefits like lower risk of disease, research suggests.
To eat a more gut-healthy diet, eat plenty of veggies and whole grains, and aim to get a few servings per day of fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, or kombucha, Tamburello said.
For breakfast, enjoy fiber-rich overnight oats with chia seeds and banana
Get your gut bacteria off to 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 their own— but the friendly bacteria in our guts love it. Those tiny gut bugs that naturally occur in our digestive systems feed on the fiber, and in exchange, they produce compounds that are beneficial for our bodies, including some vitamins.
Oats are an excellent source of fiber, as are seeds and nuts, and all the above also provide some protein to keep you feeling full long after eating. Fruit is also an excellent source of vitamins as well as carbohydrates for energy.
Black bean veggie wraps with spicy kraut pack a probiotic punch for lunch
As a nutritious midday meal, Tamburello recommends filling a whole-wheat tortilla with black beans and your favorite vegetables, topping it with spicy sauerkraut for extra zest, and enjoying it cold.
This ingredient combination offers a healthy dose of plant-based protein and lots of fiber. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are full of probiotics, live bacteria that can help support our natural digestive microbes.
“It’s best practice to enjoy fermented foods cold to reap all the gut health benefits. For warm foods such as heated sandwiches or macro bowls, place kraut or kimchi on the side or add right 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 — since heating and pasteurizing can reduce the beneficial bacteria.
Snacks like 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 easily be customized with your favorite toppings for a quick protein source that’s also rich in probiotics, a double win for your digestion.
Hummus is a versatile way to get even more fiber in your diet, as well as protein. Research suggests that eating a few servings of legumes day is linked to a longer, healthier life, and options like chickpeas and other beans count toward that goal.
For something to sip on throughout the day, Tamburello recommends kombucha, a mildly-fizzy, naturally fermented tea. Kombucha can be a good swap for other beverages like sugary sodas and alcohol, both of which can be harmful to gut health.
Jazz up a classic salmon and veggie dinner by cooking brown rice in bone broth
A good rule for making gut-friendly meals is to fill your plate with whole grains and veggies, said Tamburello. She also recommends healthy proteins 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 like amino acids (building blocks of protein) and collagen, which can help protect the lining of the digestive system, helping absorb nutrients and prevent inflammation.
“It’s a simple hack to support a healthy gut and add a major boost of protein and collagen to meals,” she said.