12 Foods for Better Gut Health

Photo of Daisy Whitbread Written by Daisy Whitbread
BSc (Hons) MSc DipION
Photo of Dr. Patricia Shelton Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Patricia Shelton
Evidence Based. References sourced from PubMed.
12 Foods for Better Gut Health

Your gut has a massive impact on your health and well-being way beyond simply digesting your food. The relationship between the gut and general health is complex, but much of it relates to the bacteria living there. Trillions of bacteria inhabiting the digestive tract, collectively known as the "microbiome", comprise a mixture of beneficial, neutral, and potentially harmful bacteria.

The balance of the different varieties of bacteria has far-reaching effects on many aspects of health. A favorable balance of gut bacteria means you are more likely to have a strong immune system, be at a healthy weight, have healthy skin, and have good mental well-being. (1,2,3) Imbalances in gut bacteria, on the other hand, are linked to various health problems including obesity, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerances, allergies, asthma, eczema, and infections.

The basis of a gut-friendly diet starts with a balanced and varied high-fiber diet. Foods that are good for your gut include yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, whole grains, papaya, pineapple, and more. Scroll down to view the full list of foods that promote gut health.

Tips for a Healthy Gut

  • Limit consumption of added sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods and meat, which can all encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Manage stress, as prolonged stress hampers digestion and can alter the balance of gut bacteria. Take positive steps to manage stress, such as meditation, eating foods that reduce stress, yoga, or walking in nature.
  • Physical activity reduces transit time, which is the time taken for food to pass through the digestive tract, keeping the gut healthy and helping prevent constipation.
  • Eating more slowly gives more time for the process of chewing and the enzymes in your saliva to begin the process of breaking down your food. It also decreases the chances that you'll overeat, by giving your body time to sense the food that you've eaten and secrete hormones that signal that you're full.
  • Avoid probiotic shots, drinks, and flavored yogurts, as these are generally high in added sugars and often contain artificial flavorings and sweeteners. Instead, opt for the natural probiotic foods listed above.

Data Sources and References

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