Sonya Angelone, MS, RDN, CLT
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Feeding your gut means understanding the components of food and how they may improve your health. While research continues on ways to improve gut health, incorporating what I call “nutrition boosters” — natural ingredients found in everyday foods — into your eating plan can help.
Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food components that promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. You can get prebiotics by consuming fruits (bananas), vegetables (garlic and onions), and whole grains (whole-wheat bread).
Probiotics are live cultures, also known as “good” bacteria, that help balance your gut and may boost immunity and overall health. You can add probiotics to your diet by eating kimchi, yogurt with live or active cultures, kefir, and some cheeses.
Whole grains provide dietary fiber to help with your digestive and heart health, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and other healthy plant-based nutrients. Whole-grain foods include brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain barley, buckwheat, and quinoa. On the ingredient label, make sure a whole grain is listed first or that the label reads “100 percent whole grain.”
Fiber can also act as a prebiotic and helps your digestive health. Good sources of dietary fiber include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink and the amount of foods with saturated fats and added sugars you eat. It’s especially important to stay hydrated as you increase your fiber consumption.