March 17, 2023

Gut Health: Foods to Feed Your Gut

General Health

Gut health is more than just digestive health. Your gut affects your body’s critical functions such as preventing diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and colorectal cancer. Consider these food groups to try healthier habits that affect your gut health. The change could affect the prevalence of healthy bacteria in your gut in as little as 24 hours.


Fiber is food for your gut—literally. Fiber cannot be digested by the body, so it becomes food for the bacteria living in your gut. The more fiber you eat, the more you feed your healthy microbes, which fight inflammation and improve your immune health throughout your body.

Fiber doesn’t exist in meat, dairy, or sugar, but comes from plant-based foods. Make sure ⅔ of your plate are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (think whole wheat, oats, and brown rice) to get the amount of fiber your gut needs to stay healthy.

Resistant Starch

Resistant starches behave like fiber, meaning they become food for the bacteria living in your gut. As bacteria break down resistant starches to use for energy, they release molecules that promote blood flow to the large intestine, keeping your colon tissue fed and healthy. These bacteria also help detect mutated cells, prompting the immune system to destroy these cells before they can develop into cancer.

Examples of resistant starches include:

  • Brown Rice
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Lentils
  • Green bananas

Processed Foods

Processed foods are any food that’s been changed from its natural state. This includes salt, butter, canned foods, dried fruits, and more. A healthy diet includes many processed foods, but it is ultraprocessed foods that dramatically impact our health.

Ultraprocessed foods are industrially processed foods that have been stripped of their nutrients and filled with salt, sugar, preservatives, coloring agents, and other additives. The more processed a food is, the more additives it contains, the fewer nutrients it delivers—including fiber.

Ultraprocessed foods, like soft drinks, fast food, and sugary breakfast cereals, disrupt the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut and can affect brain health, contributing to the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.


A high sugar intake can cause an imbalance in the good and bad bacteria in your gut, promoting inflammation and contributing to the development of precancerous cells. The increase in bad bacteria can contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

Sugar is a stealthy ingredient. It is often found in high quantities in “fat free” foods to make up for the lack of taste. Sugar is also packed into commercially processed foods to increase their addictive qualities, which is why it’s so hard to have just one piece of candy.

Added sugar should be limited to 25 grams a day for women and 36 grams for men, or less than 10% of your daily total calories. Check your food labels for added sugar. You’ll be surprised where you find it.


Probiotics are yeasts and bacteria that can repopulate the microbes in your digestive tract. More “good bacteria” give your gut the power to regulate blood sugar, boost gastrointestinal health, and make your immune system stronger. Probiotics can be found in dairy products like yogurt, kefir, and aged cheeses (think your sharper, harder cheeses like cheddar and parmesan), and in fermented vegetables like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and sourdough. Read those labels when choosing your probiotics—some can contain an excess of added sugar.


Water is one of the key contributing factors in the makeup of your gut bacteria. Drinking more water lowers the number of bacteria that causes gastrointestinal infection. It can also help break down food for digestion, deliver nutrients throughout the body, and contribute to bowel regularity. When you’re dehydrated, your digestive tract can become inflamed, leading to constipation and the risk of other gastric distress.

Drinking more water throughout the day and limiting dehydrating liquids like caffeine and alcohol can help keep your gut running smoothly. If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding fruit or cucumber for some sugar-free flavor. Foods with high water content can also aid in hydration. Fresh fruits and vegetables have a much higher water content—some up to 90%.

Trust Your Gut

Making small changes to each meal can improve your gut health in a relatively short amount of time. These changes can have a lasting impact, boosting your immunity and affecting overall quality of life. Pay attention to what you put on your plate—and what ends up in your gut. Nutrition plays a key factor in preventing chronic diseases more than we realize. Changing just a few of your food habits can improve your gut health and your health overall.