Gut health is so hot right now. Is this a dietitian’s dream or what? In all seriousness, interest in this topic is certainly at an all-time high thanks to emerging research that links a healthy gut to everything from improvement of digestive conditions (obviously) and immunity to obesity and even depression. Of course a well-nourished gut is also essential to general well-being, and ahem, regularity. Yes, I said it.
If you’re curious about gut-healthy foods and wonder how you can eat more of them, check out my top four picks here. Chances are you already have them in your fridge or pantry. That’s right…nourishing your gut isn’t just about downing shots of difficult to pronounce (correctly) kombucha or kefir; it can be accomplished by simply incorporating a few basic foods and plenty of water into your eating routine. Read on to learn more.
Oats: Nothing difficult to pronounce here…just good old-fashioned oats. A long-time gut-healthy food, oats are a source or prebiotic fiber that those live probiotics use to promote their growth. Think of prebiotics as ‘probiotic boosters.’ Including both types in your diet ensures that you are covering all bases when it comes to being good to your gut.
Yogurt: As basic as it comes. Before there was kefir—a smooth, drinkable, probiotic-rich yogurt-esque, there was yogurt. When choosing yogurt, look for the callout of ‘live and active cultures’ to know you’re getting the real deal. Also try to find the brands that have the lowest amount of added sugar. Remember that yogurt contains naturally-occurring milk sugar (lactose) so you won’t find a zero sugar yogurt out there. If you do, you probably don’t want to eat it anyway.
Bananas: With a carbohydrate and natural sugar content than other fruits, bananas seem to have gotten a bad rap over recent years…until now! Like oats, bananas supply the prebiotic type of bacteria that nourish the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut. The beauty of bananas is that they pair oh, so beautifully with yogurt and oats to make up the dynamic prebiotic-probiotic duo I mentioned earlier.
Aged cheese: While not all cheeses are a source of probiotics, those that have been aged, including Parmesan, Swiss, cheddar and Gouda are. Does this mean I’m recommending that you eat pounds of cheese in the name of gut health—no. In fact overdoing it may have the opposite effect and cause gut distress.
As seen with nearly all health and wellness crazes, once people get on the bandwagon as they have this past year with gut ‘healthy’ products like kombucha, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut, food manufacturers respond with countless products to satisfy the need. While there are definitely some good newbies hitting shelves, there are also as many gimmicky products. That said, my takeaway for you is that it’s ok to stick with what you know like oats, yogurt, bananas and aged cheese in lieu of trendy probiotic drinks, cereals, snack bars, dried fruit and others that appear too good to be true.
Beth, a.k.a. Queen Nutrition Bee