Gut health is one of the hot topics in nutrition research right now. It turns out, the bacteria that take up residence in your belly may play a significant role in wellness. Indeed, studies have found a healthy gut can support your immune system and shows promise in decreasing risk for colon cancer, food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.
Although research is still in the works, one thing is certain: when it comes to good bacteria, strength comes in numbers. With that in mind, here are three types of food you can add to your diet to boost beneficial bacteria.
Load Up on Fiber
Good bacteria feast on fiber and need it for survival. Aim for a diet of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and legumes. The Bulk Department and Produce Department at Sprouts are great places to start.
Minimize Processed Food
This is just one more reason to eat a real-food diet. Some research has shown that certain additives, such as artificial sweeteners, can alter gut bacteria. Plus, a diet of processed food probably means you’re not getting enough fiber to help those healthy bacteria thrive.
Include Probiotic Foods
Seek out foods that are naturally rich in good bacteria, otherwise known as probiotics. These include:
- Fermented Vegetables – Products such as Farmhouse Culture Kimchi or Wild Brine Kraut add flavor to the plate along with good-for-you bacteria.
- Yogurt – Yogurt is inoculated with two primary strains of bacteria, which is what gives it that pleasingly tangy flavor.
- Kefir – Another probiotic-rich option in the dairy aisle that’s similar in consistency to drinkable yogurt.
- Miso & Tempeh – These two ingredients are derived from fermented soy and one more way to work good bacteria into your diet.
- Probiotic Supplements – In addition to food sources, a probiotic supplement is another option for upping your intake.
Ready to try some of these delicious, good-for-you foods?
About Katie Morford
Katie Morford is a writer, cookbook author, registered dietitian and mother of three. She has published two cookbooks, Rise & Shine (Roost Books, 2016) and Best Lunch Box Ever (Chronicle Books, 2013). Her work has been featured in Cooking Light, Oprah, Real Simple, Bon Appetit, Parents, Redbook, the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is the voice behind the award-nominated blog Mom’s Kitchen Handbook: Raising Fresh-Food Kids in a French-Fried World and blogs regularly on the Huffington Post. She lives with her husband and three daughters in San Francisco.