Living inside our gut are trillions of bacteria that we call the gut microbiome.
Many of these bacteria are beneficial to us because they help breakdown specific foods we eat regularly. Nutrients and components of food that help promote the health of our good gut bacteria are called prebiotics. There are certain foods, like prebiotics, that we can eat that may improve our digestion and keep our gut microbiome happy.
Whole grains are the first type of food to make the list. Whole grain foods are higher in fiber than refined grain products. Gut bacteria like to break down fiber, which keeps them and the cells lining our gut functioning properly.
It is recommended that people consume 25 grams of fiber each day. When choosing whole grains, look for items that provide three or more grams of fiber per serving. People who choose low-carbohydrate diets may experience upset stomachs and poor digestion because of a lack of fiber.
Many food labels may promise to be gut-friendly, but some of the best foods we can choose to support a healthy gut don't even have a food label. Leafy greens are an excellent choice when it comes to fueling the good bacteria in our gut and keeping them happy. Leafy greens are high in fiber and are packed with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, and folate.
Two cups of kale provide more than 5 grams of fiber.
Specific fruits low in fructose may help reduce gas and bloating.
There are several fruit options that still provide fiber and other gut-health promoting compounds. Berries, oranges, peaches, and cantaloupe are all gut-friendly fruits. Bananas are also another excellent choice, providing fiber and a compound called inulin, which helps the good bacteria grow in the gut. One medium-sized banana provides around 3 grams of fiber.
Increasing the amount of grilled meat instead of fried may also improve digestion and reduce gas, bloating and upset stomach. Not only does this reduce the amount of fat in the diet that may irritate the gut, it also better supports the growth and health of the good gut bacteria.
Even better are plant-based proteins like beans, nuts, and seeds that provide more fiber and healthy fats into the diet. For example, half a cup of black beans provides approximately 8 grams of fiber.
Even making simple, small swaps throughout the day may cause a noticeable difference in overall digestion. It will certainly help keep the gut microbiome healthier.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.