Foods that Support Gut Health & Foods that don't

What foods are bad for your gut?

There are certain foods you should eat when you are trying to make gains, foods to eat when you’re trying to cut, and foods that help your athletic performance. That means there are also foods to avoid when you are trying to have a healthy gut, which is going to affect all those things.

  • Sugar – sugar of any kind is bad for your gut health and participants in a study were found to have increased constipation on a high-sugar diet

  • Processed foods – emulsifiers used in processed foods disturb gut microbiota

  • Soy – high levels of processing of today’s soy change how it effects the body and has even been shown to reduce two key strains that are crucial for a balanced gut

  • Non Grass Fed Dairy – consumption changes the bacterial makeup within days and allows strains linked to intestinal disease and inflammation to grow

  • Non Grass Fed Red meat – similar to dairy, red meat encourages the growth of certain strains that negatively affect your gut

  • Gluten – even if you don’t have Celiac disease, gluten can lead to stomach pain, bloating, and fatigue

  • GMOs – traits that help these crops resist disease can also reduce the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Common GMO products in the U.S. are wheat, soybeans, and corn.

  • Corn – again, corn is one of the most common GMO products in the U.S. and can reduce beneficial bacteria

  • Farmed fish – antibiotics used in farmed fish can be passed along if you eat these fish and antibiotics kill all bacteria, good or bad

  • Nightshades – this includes tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and bell peppers. Glycoalkaloids found in these have been shown to lead to intestinal inflammation

  • Tap water – some research has found that chlorinated water can alter gut microbiota and even lead to colorectal cancer

  • Artificial sweeteners – more research shows these cause changes in microbial composition, increased gluten intolerance, and higher rates of metabolic disease.

What foods are good for your gut?

The answer is probiotics. Fortunate for us they are making their way into mainstream supplements now. Probiotics are the beneficial forms of gut bacteria that help to stimulate natural enzymes and the processes that keep your digestive organs functioning properly. In order to keep yourself healthy, you have to keep these bacteria healthy. You can do this by taking a probiotic supplement or eating foods that have probiotics.

  • Live-cultured yogurt is one of the best forms of probiotic food, especially if you can make it yourself. If you buy it, look for brands that are made from goat milk and are infused with extra probiotics such as lactobacillus or acidophilus. They suggest goat milk because it is a rich source or proteins, vitamins, and minerals and has better digestibility and lower rate of allergies than cow milk. It’s also high in probiotics like thermophilus, bifidus, and bulgaricus. If you use yogurt, be sure to check the labels. Many are filled with high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners which can make them nutritionally equivalent to ice cream. Yikes.

  • Kefir is similar to yogurt and is a combination of goat milk and fermented kefir grains. It’s high in lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria as well as antioxidants.

  • Sauerkraut is made from fermented cabbage and some other vegetables, and is really high in healthy live cultures and could also help reduce allergy symptoms. It’s also rich in vitamins A, B, C, and K.

  • Dark chocolate doesn’t contain probiotics itself, but it is a highly effective carrier for probiotics. It helps them survive the pHs of the digestive tract and make it to the colon. This protective ability of probiotics can be added to the high-quality dark chocolate.

  • Micro-algae is a superfood ocean-based plant like spirulina, chlorella, and blue-green algae. These aren’t probiotics but are prebiotics, which mean they feed and nourish the probiotics that are already in your gut. They have been shown to increase good bacteria and improve overall gastrointestinal health. They have also been shown to have the most amount of energetic return per ounce for the system.

  • It’s an appetizer before Japanese meals for a reason, miso soup is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. It’s made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley. Adding just a tablespoon of miso to hot water makes an easy and quick probiotic-rich soup full of good bacteria. Miso is also nutrient-dense and it is believed to help neutralize the effects of environmental pollution, alkalinize the body, and stop the effects of carcinogens.

  • Pickles aren’t just for weird pregnant women – the traditional cucumber stored in brine has a ton of probiotics. Really, any vegetable can be pickled though.

  • Tempeh is a good substitute for animal protein or tofu. It is a fermented grain made from soybeans and a great source of vitamin B12. It can be sautéed, baked, or crumbled on salads. Prepare it correctly and it is also really low in sodium.

  • Kimchi is a spicy, pickled sauerkraut in Korean cuisine. It has a slightly sour taste and is full of good bacteria, vitamin C, B vitamins, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, potassium, and fiber. If you can handle the spice it’s one of the best things to add to your diet.

  • Kombucha tea can be found at your neighborhood grocery store now and has a high amount of good gut bacteria. It’s been around for centuries and it’s believed to increase your energy, improve well-being, and might even help you lose weight. It might not work for those with issues with candida and be on the lookout for ones with too much sugar.

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