In the past 12 months gut health has become the most talked-about wellness topic. Prebiotics, probiotics, kimchi, kombucha–these are the terms being tossed around by naturopaths and nutritionists right now.
We now know that poor gut health is very closely linked to a host of possible health issues. As one holistic nutritionist explained to us, our bodies are constantly sending signals through headaches, anxiety, fatigue, nausea, skin issues, weight gain and bloating, to suggest your gut needs some extra attention. Simply altering your diet can have trigger huge changes to your mood, energy levels, sleep quality, and daily productivity. There’s plenty of research on the topic (head this way for some light reading), but it really boils down to one simple thing: We should all be eating more of the kinds of foods that turn up the amount of good bacteria thriving in our digestive systems.
For a gut health-supporting grocery list, we turned to seven nutrition experts who all shared the foods they suggest eating daily. Screenshot this before your next trip to the supermarket.
“Prebiotics are indigestible foods that help to stimulate the growth of ‘good’ gut bacteria in the colon. Resistant starch is a type of prebiotic that can be found in banana flour. Resistant starch also increases fermentation and production of short chain fatty acids. Banana flour can be added to your morning smoothies or you can try baking with it.”—Jessica Urback, holistic nutritionist
“Fermented foods are essential for gut health. My favourite gut health superfood is sauerkraut because there are so many tasty varieties. Sometimes I add chopped carrots or sliced apple to homemade kraut. Sauerkraut is an absolutely fantastic source of beneficial bacteria. Your gut is home to 4 lbs of bacteria and you want to eat foods that nourish the helpful bacteria, like sauerkraut. Just make sure the kraut you purchase is raw and unpasteurized to reap the benefits. Get started with this recipe.” — Joy McCarthy, holistic nutritionist and best-selling author
“Easily available, inexpensive, and can be added to just about any savory dish! Garlic is characterized as a prebiotic food which increases the production of good bacteria in the gut. It is also known to be a candida killer, which can be responsible for bloating constipation and skin breakouts. One of my secrets is taking extra garlic pills when I am feeling bloated or having stomach issues in addition to homemade meals loaded with fresh garlic.”—Bianca Klotsman, holistic nutritionist
“[Chia seeds] are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber that can feed the good bacteria and keep your digestive tract moving. Two tablespoons in a glass of water daily is a great place to start.”—Dr. Laura Belus, naturopathic doctor
Better yet, incorporate them into your diet easily by whipping up one of these overnight chia puddings for breakfast.
“Not all bread is created equally [and] it’s important to understand how a bread is created. Sourdough bread is created by fermentation and a lengthy preparation process including soaking and rinsing. During the fermentation process the grains are pre-digested which makes it easier for our bodies to digest and absorb its nutrients. Sourdough naturally contains probiotics which supports our gut health.”—Jordana Hart, holistic nutritionist
Find out more about the benefits of sprouting your grains before consuming here.
“Bitter greens and herbs support overall digestion, regular bowel movements, increase detoxification, and increased enzyme production to breakdown food. The process is accomplished by stimulating the stomach to increase digestion, the gallbladder and pancreas to increase enzymes and the liver detoxification pathways are improved. Try: Amaranth greens, arugula endive, broccoli rabe, dandelion greens, kale, or radicchio.” –Dr. Charles Passler, nutritionist and founder of Pure Change
“Lacto-fermented foods [like kimchi] are rich in bio-available nutrients to feed the skin from within (the lacto-fermentation process helps predigest the food, so the nutrients are more available for the skin and body to use) and are great for improving digestion as they contain prebiotics and broad-spectrum probiotics. Great examples are sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi, or try The Beauty Chef GLOW Inner Beauty Powder, which contains 24 different skin-loving, fermented super foods.”—Carla Oates founder and author, The Beauty Chef
“Bone broth is great for gut health because it contains many nutrients that are anti-inflammatory and healing for the gut. The amino acids and minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus are in a very easy to absorb form. Bone broth is excellent for conditions such as colitis and Crohn’s. Here’s my [favorite] bone broth recipe.”— Joy McCarthy, holistic nutritionist and best-selling author
“Kombucha is created by fermenting tea, water, and sugar. [It] has similar taste to a fizzy soda, with a subtle hint of sweet and sour flavors. It’s important to read labels carefully, as some brands use more sugar than others.”—Jordana Hart, holistic nutritionist