More and more scientific details are emerging regarding the importance of the gut biome. Gut health has effects on everything from food cravings, to mood, even mental health.
The bacteria within your gut are doing all sorts of things to affect the way you live your life, and you probably didn't even realize it.
Eating a diet rich in foods that will support the beneficial bacteria and starve the damaging will benefit the way you look, feel, and act.
Let's look 12 of the best foods for gut health, but first, let's define a couple of terms.
Probiotics Versus Prebiotics
Let's make a quick distinction about two terms you hear a lot but might not fully understand.
Here's the simple way to think about this: probiotics are or contain healthy bacteria directly and prebiotics are the food that those bacteria consume.
So eating something rich in probiotics is planting the seed, eating prebiotics is providing the plant food.
That's enough preamble, let's get into the list. These are not presented in any particular order
Best Probiotic Foods
We will start with the best probiotic foods.
1. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt really hit the cultural conscience about two decades ago, but with the added attention we've gotten some lower quality products.
Reach for the whole milk, unflavored kind.
Most brands on the shelves are full of sugar which defeats the purpose here!
Think of kefir as a cousin of Greek yogurt, but more of a drink.
It's even better for your gut though, because kefir usually has around 10 strains of live bacteria while yogurt is usually about 3.
The same rule applies here as it does with yogurt. Don't get the sugared up crap. I prefer plan, goats milk kefir.
Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish from Korea. The one easiest to find in good health food stores is usually made from cabbage.
You can find several recipes to try your hand at making it yourself, but I have found store bought, spicy kimchi to be very good.
I like to put mine over rice with some shredded chicken and vegetables.
Another fermented cabbage dish (sensing a trend?), this time it's one you've probably encountered in a deli.
Full of powerful and potent bacteria, be sure to have some mints at the ready after you eat it!
Now we may be getting into new territory for many of you.
Kvass is a Slavic and Baltic fermented beverage made traditionally from rye bread. Other fermentation fuels have emerged as well (I've had a beet version in the past).
Kvass is a bit alcoholic, usually about 1.5% by volume, so you might have to flash the ID to get yours, but it's not something that will leave you stumbling around.
Miso is a Japanese, fermented soybean paste and is the basis of the popular dish miso soup.
Being fermented (I told you there was a pattern here) it is rich in probiotics and can be used in a variety of dishes.
Being soybean based, make sure you go organic here. You don't want a mouth full of pesticides when you're trying to do something positive for your health.
We've written about kombucha before, but it makes an appearance on this list as well.
Kombucha is a fermented black or green tea with a SCOBY in it. It's brimming with beneficial probiotics and as it has become very popular in recent years, you can find a number of different flavors that you will enjoy.
Here's a video on our YouTube channel of a taste test of a few popular kombucha brands.
Best Prebiotic Foods
Now that we've looked at 7 powerful probiotic foods, let's switch gears and focus on providing those probiotics with the right fuel they need to grow.
All of these foods will be high in fiber and other nutrients as well, so you will really be doing your body good by getting heaping helpings.
Here are five prebiotic foods you should be having daily.
1. Chicory Root
Chicory root has a coffee like flavor, and is high in inulin.
It can also aid in the production of bile, which has the added benefit of fat digestion.
Lastly, it's high in anti-oxidants as well. This little guy is a powerhouse of nutrition.
2. Dandelion Greens
Now I will warn you, many folks find the flavor of dandelion greens difficult to deal with. They are a bit bitter, but they are incredibly good for you.
Not only are you getting a healthy dose of prebiotic fiber, but these greens are also excellent anti-inflammatory agents.
Mix them in a salad with baby spinach to help mask the taste if it's bothersome to you.
Garlic has long been used as a folk remedy for various ailments and to promote good health.
On top of being a solid prebiotic, it's also a powerful anti-microbial agent and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Be sure to have some mints handy though!
Asparagus is a pretty remarkable plant.
On top of prebiotics and a decent concentration of inulin, it's also full of anti-oxidants.
Guess what? You can have your prebiotics and a sweet treat too!
On top of some fiber, green bananas are high in resistant starch.
Maybe you've always reached for the ripest yellow bananas, but it's time to favor some green on there!
The Gut Is The Lead Domino
So many diets focus on macro nutrients or the source of calories, but never address an inescapable fact.
Your only as good as the nutrients you can absorb.
Eating the right foods for a healthy gut is the lead domino. Knock it down, and all the others fall.
Whether your goal is too feel better, be healthier, perform athletically, or just look better naked, start by addressing the bacteria of the gut.