Our bodies don’t do all the work of digesting the food we eat. Much of the work involved in breaking down food after you chew and swallow is done by trillions of bacteria that reside in your gut. There are thousands of microbes that live in the gut, and some are good while others are harmful. So, one way you can improve your digestive health is by encouraging the growth of good bacteria in the gut, which you can do by eating the right foods.
Foods to focus on include those that are high in probiotics, or live bacterial cultures that can supplement your body’s own gut bacteria. You’ll also want to eat foods high in prebiotics to feed those healthy bacteria. Stock up on the following dietary staples to enjoy better gut health, which can lead to reduced digestive discomfort, fewer bodily infections, and reduced inflammation.
Yogurt is a powerhouse of probiotics, as long as you select a variety that says “contains live active cultures” on the label. You should also look for plain varieties and add your own fruit, honey, or granola, so you don’t fill up on added sugars that can agitate your gut and encourage an overgrowth of yeast.
You may have seen an explosion of different kombucha brands on grocery store shelves, and that’s for good reason. Kombucha is a fermented tea that’s packed with probiotics, and it comes in a huge variety of flavors to cater to any tastes. Plus, it’s vegan and dairy-free, so it’s a great alternative to yogurt for those with dietary restrictions.
Both garlic and onions are rich in prebiotics, but they can break down as these foods cook. Try adding garlic and onions raw to your favorite dishes (try guacamole!) for big flavor and the best gut-boosting benefits.
Most veggies offer gut-friendly nutrients, but asparagus is particularly high in inulin, which feeds good bacteria and eases inflammation. Enjoy asparagus while it’s in season this spring—ideally, it should be lightly steamed or sautéed to prevent overcooking.
When your tummy isn’t feeling its best, you don’t have to rush to urgent care to see a doctor. Check in with a medical provider on MeMD instead to save time and start feeling better sooner.