You’ve heard it before and we’ll say it again: Gut health is crucial for your overall well-being.
“Gut health is important for so many reasons,” says Seattle-based dietitian Ginger Hultin, R.D.N., owner of ChampagneNutrition. “It helps with healthy elimination, which is part of the body’s natural detoxification system, and some connections between gut health and mood and brain health, and even some chronic diseases, are emerging.”
Considering one of your gut’s many roles is to break down and process the food you eat, it should come as no surprise that what you put on your plate impacts how your gut feels and functions.
Food And Gut Health
Unfortunately, a number of foods and ingredients that have become synonymous with the standard American diet don’t do your gut any favors, says Kimberly Bowman, C.N.P., sports nutritionist with F45 Training.
A few of the worst offenders, according to Bowman:
- Processed carbohydrates and sugars, like white bread, sugary breakfast cereals, candy, packaged snack foods such as chips and crackers, and anything containing high-fructose corn syrup or white sugar. These foods contribute to inflammation and negatively impact the gut microbiome.
- Processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, and pre-packaged deli meats. These eats contain highly inflammatory preservatives, including nitrates and nitrites, which can disrupt the gut.
- Artificial and calorie-free sweeteners, such as Sucralose and Saccharin, and sugar alcohols like Xylitol. Fake sweeteners may negatively alter gut health over time, while sugar alcohols often contribute to gut issues like bloating, gas, and cramping.
That said, a number of foods and nutrients are particularly beneficial for your gut—and should make regular appearances on your plate.
- Fermented foods, such as kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut. These have been shown to strengthen your gut microbiome.
- Whole grains, including oats, brown rice, quinoa, and whole-grain wheat, are loaded with fiber to feed your healthy gut bacteria.
- Whole fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, mushrooms, and zucchini provide fiber and have been found to increase the diversity of gut bacteria.
Gut-Healthy Recipes That Taste Great
These 13 dietitian-approved, gut-healthy recipes are totally crave-worthy. Savor every bite!
“For a healthy breakfast, whip up a batch of whole-grain oats,” says Hultin. “They’re full of the soluble fiber ‘beta-glucans,’ which are linked to lowering LDL cholesterol and supporting a healthy immune system.
Read More: 5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Gut Health
Plus, the bananas in this recipe act as prebiotics (meaning they stimulate the growth and act as food for healthy bacteria in your gut), while the ginger offers anti-inflammatory benefits. Thanks to all that flavorful sweetness, you won’t need a shred of added sugar.
“We know that plant-based diets are good for gut health and this recipe combines vegan-friendly ingredients that are perfect to serve as an appetizer or snack,” says Hultin. “Endive is known as a source of gut-healthy prebiotics. Combining it with high-fiber chickpeas makes for a delicious recipe that also helps your gut microbiome.”
“This simple chia seed pudding is a no-bake/no-cook recipe that’s absolutely packed with fiber for gut health,” says Hultin. “Chia seeds contain 10 grams of gut-healthy fiber per ounce and also offer omega-3 fatty acids. This recipe combines chia with antioxidant- and fiber-rich pomegranate arils for a beautiful treat.”
“This veggie-based cheese recipe gives you all the umami flavor, melty, creamy goodness of real cheese, but without the possibly inflammatory lactose and casein,” says Cristina Curp, N.T.P., author of Made Whole & Made Whole Made Simple. “Using grass-fed gelatin as the secret ingredient makes these Mozz Blocks melt like the real deal. Gelatin from pastured animals enhances stomach acid secretion and restores the mucosal lining in the stomach, promoting a healthier gut.”
Yes, gut-healthy recipes can include comfort food! “Slow-cooked and pressure-cooked foods are easy to digest and beef, in general, is a highly digestible food,” says Curp. “This pressure-cooked beef roast is shredded and mixed with a rich, flourless mushroom gravy. Mushrooms are rich in specific carbohydrates like mannans, xylans, and galactans, which make them excellent prebiotics.”
“I love these allergen-friendly bread rolls! Made with coconut flour, psyllium husk, egg whites, and pickle juice, not only do they look and taste like the real thing, but they’re also low-carb,” says Curp. “Soluble fiber such as psyllium husk has been found to relieve digestive upset, as it becomes viscous in the gut collecting water and having a soothing effect.” Who knew a bread roll could be so good for you?
Looking for gut-healthy recipes that satisfy a sweet tooth? “This recipe contains whole-wheat flour, bananas, and Greek yogurt,” says dietitian Amber Pankonin, R.D., owner of Stirlist. “Probiotics from the Greek yogurt and fiber from the whole-wheat flour can help keep your digestive system healthy.”
This salad is full of fresh strawberries, spiralized zucchini, carrots, raisins, and walnuts. “All of the ingredients are full of good nutrition including heart-healthy fats and fiber, which are great for gut health,” says Pankonin.
“This recipe includes quinoa, veggies, and peanuts, which are good sources of fiber,” says Pankonin. “Quinoa in particular has a prebiotic effect, helping to feed the good bacteria in your gut.”
“A more diverse array of plant fibers in your diet will result in a wider assortment of healthy gut bacteria,” says Brenda Braslow, R.D., dietitian for MyNetDiary. “I like this recipe because it has a variety of grain and vegetable fiber sources, offering 16 grams of fiber per serving. Plus, it’s very tasty!”
“Cabbage is a great prebiotic food and tempeh is a fermented food, also great for a healthy gut,” says Braslow. “This yummy recipe is a valuable source of both cabbage and tempeh while also including other gut-loving vegetables.”
“I love this recipe because it’s efficient and clean,” says dietitian Alana Kessler, R.D., founder of holistic lifestyle program Be Well. “The prebiotics and fiber from the asparagus complement the anti-inflammatory properties of the omega-3 fatty acids in the smoked salmon making this a one-two gut-friendly punch.”
Perhaps one of the simplest gut-healthy recipes on this list, this zoodle bowl is quick and fresh. “Fermented foods like kimchi populate the gut with good bacteria,” says Kessler. “Meanwhile, the broccoli stalk and zucchini noodles provide some prebiotics for the kimchi to feed on.” says Kessler, who loves when meals provide both probiotics and prebiotics.”