“You are what you eat.” It wasn’t until my late twenties that I figured out what those words truly meant. After years of college junk food, I began to notice how quickly and noticeably my gut would be affected based upon the foods I was eating. Not enough fiber that week and I would feel bloated and heavy. There’s no arguing that what you put in your body can have a direct effect on the health of your gut. Here are some of the best foods to eat to promote a healthy digestive system.
Your stomach is more than just a holding place for food! It’s an entire micro-ecosystem of helpful (and harmful) bacteria needed to digest and break down the food you eat into more absorbable bits. These helpful bacteria thrive in an environment rich with indigestible fiber. Some of the best and most nutritious forms of fiber include whole-grain oats, dark leafy greens like spinach and sprouted broccoli, and beans. Make sure to introduce added fiber into your system slowly to avoid shocking and bloating your gut with sudden bowel movement.
Another way to support your gut health is by making sure you are eating enough probiotics. Probiotics help support the helpful bacteria in your stomach, just like fiber, allowing your gut to process food and waste quickly and efficiently. Probiotics can be found in supplements but are best when consumed directly in foods such as yogurt, kombucha and fermented foods like pickles and kimchi.
However, not all probiotic foods are created equal. Many popular yogurt brands carry almost as much sugar as a chocolate pudding cup! The same goes for some kombucha brands with added fruit juice. When buying probiotics, make sure they are organic with no added sugar, as this can promote harmful bacteria in your gut.
These next food items are the easiest to eat, as they also taste naturally delicious! Polyphenols are found in foods such as berries, grapes and dark chocolate and are a vital resource for healthy bacteria to function optimally. One of the best ways to incorporate these items into your diet is by eating a bowl of steel-cut oats for the fiber with added berries and dark chocolate for the polyphenols. Talk about a gut-cleansing breakfast!
Improving the health of your gut will obviously help your stomach feel lighter and bowel movements more comfortable. But it’ll do more than that! A healthy gut will also help you sleep better, produce energy more efficiently and help your other organs receive the nutrition they need to keep your body running.