When it comes to your gut you know when things are going wrong: bloating, discomfort, “tummy trouble,” constipation. It’s not fun. You feel big, bloated, and gross. But when things are going “ok” you don’t really notice. But did you know that it’s possible to have GREAT gut health?
Not only does a healthy, happy gut make you feel better it’s actually better for your health and weight! Scientists are finally realizing that your gut has a major impact on your weight. Bad gut health can make you gain weight and retain more fat but good gut health can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
Here are the 5 probiotic foods you need to be eating in order to support this essential part of your health.
1. Sourdough Bread (and other fermented foods)
Not everyone incorporates a lot of bread into their daily diet, but if you rely on it for your morning toast or your lunchtime sandwiches, make sure you’re using sourdough. Toss out that plain white bread and even your “healthy” multi-grain loaf, because when it comes to your digestion, they’re not doing you as much good as sourdough could.
Sourdough is better for your gut because it’s a fermented food. It’s made with a lactic acid starter instead of just with yeast. This starter contains the gut-friendly bacteria lactobacillus, which helps keep unhealthy, problem-causing bacteria in check within your system. These positive microbes not only help your body digest whatever you’ve eaten, they keep your whole digestive system running smoothly.
There are many fermented foods that contain helpful bacteria just like lactobacillus:
- Naturally pickled products like kimchi, sauerkraut, and other pickled vegetables.
- Miso paste and miso soup
- Naturally fermented tofu
- Fermented drinks like all-natural beers and kombucha
All of these foods contain helpful bacteria that support gut health… and they’re really delicious!
Fermented foods like the ones above tend to be very savoury because fermentation produces the umami flavor, also known as savoury flavor. It’s actually a lesser known, fifth taste, in addition to sweet, salty, sour, and bitter! It’s usually present in meats, cheeses, and other products we traditionally consider savoury, but fermentation can bring it out even in vegetarian items like miso and pickles. Yum!
2. Dark Chocolate
I bet this one comes as a surprise, huh? You may have heard that sugar isn’t good for your gut health, but in the case of dark chocolate, think again!
Dark chocolate contains a relatively low amount of sugar, which is why it tastes bitter compared to “milk chocolate” bars and candies. We already know that dark chocolate is good for your heart and contains antioxidants, but did you know that it can also benefit your gut by feeding some of the most useful and healthful gut bacteria?
That’s right: certain bacteria in your gut take food and convert it into compounds that promote heart health, and cocoa is one of their favorite fuels. One researcher adds cocoa powder to his oatmeal daily because of these benefits!
But that’s not all. Dark chocolate is also broken down into fatty acid chains in your gut, and these fatty acids reduce inflammation and promote overall cardiovascular health. Our bodies can’t absorb these beneficial compounds from cocoa straight into our blood; we actually need our gut bacteria to break the cocoa down in order to take advantage of it! It’s an amazing symbiotic relationship going on right inside our stomachs.
Just remember: a sugary Hershey bar isn’t the way to go when it comes to improving your health. Stick with unsweetened cocoa powder as a smoothie or oatmeal mix-in, or opt for a high-cocoa, low-sugar dark chocolate bar.
3. High-Fiber Foods
We all know that eating plenty of fiber is good for your, uh, regularity in the bathroom. But did you know that fiber is good for your gut in other ways, too? High-fiber foods actually feed the good bacteria in your gut helping to create a happy and healthy gut microbiome.
Unfortunately, the modern American diet doesn’t have nearly as much fiber as it should. In fact today’s Western diet only has about 15 grams of fiber each day and in our hunter-gatherer days we used to get closer to 150 grams of fiber each day! That’s a major drop so it’s no wonder that our guts are suffering.
Even worse if you starve your gut bacteria by not feeding them the fiber they want they’ll actually start eating away at the mucus lining that protects your G.I. tract making your tummy troubles even worse. So basically your choices here are feed or get eaten.
Not all high-fiber foods are the same. The good bacteria in your gut are kind of picky. They only feast on a couple kinds of fiber. Insoluble fiber and fructans are two of your gut bacterias’ favorite foods. Leeks, artichokes, white onions, raspberries, cooked beans, and asparagus are among the foods highest in these types of fiber.
Be careful how you cook these foods. Cooking them will break down the long fibers that make these foods a favorite for your gut. Caramelized onions might be delicious but their sweet flavor is a dead giveaway that the fibers are too short for your gut bacteria to be interested.
4. Prebiotic Foods
There’s a lot of “biotic” words out there (probiotic, prebiotic, antibiotic) so it’s easy to get confused about what each one does for your gut and your health. Prebiotics are essentially the fertilizer that your gut needs to grow happy, healthy probiotics (a.k.a. good gut bacteria).
Prebiotic is essentially just a word used to describe all the foods that are good for your gut. It’s the foods that you eat that support your good gut health. Your fermented foods, dark chocolate and high-fiber foods are all prebiotics because they encourage the growth of good gut bacteria.
Other foods that make great prebiotics are:
Just remember to slowly increase your consumption of prebiotic foods. Diving in head first to quickly improve your gut health might seem like a good idea, but a quick change in diet can often come as a shock to your body. Suddenly increasing your fiber intake can result in bloating and frequent, ahem, bowel movements.
Remember that little tune about beans being a magical fruit? Well unless you want to feel the magic all at once take things slow and work your way up to a diet high in prebiotics.
5. Probiotic Foods
I mentioned before that probiotic is just another word for good gut bacteria so I don’t want you to freak out. Yes, there are foods with live bacteria in them but NO they’re not gross and they won’t make you sick. In fact you’ve probably eaten and enjoyed foods with probiotics in them without even realizing it.
One of the most popular probiotic foods out there is yogurt! Yogurt is actually made using live bacteria cultures and these bacteria are very good for your stomach. Most yogurt labels will mention if they contains these live bacteria cultures. Make sure that you pick a yogurt that has these but is also low in sugar.
Kefir and kombucha are two other popular foods that naturally contain probiotics but there are countless other foods that try to reap the benefits of probiotics by adding them in. Bread, drinks, snacks, you name it, it’s out there.
The downside of eating your probiotics is that a lot of the precious live bacteria in these foods will die off in your stomach due to your stomach acid. Most of your good bacteria want to live in your intestines since the stomach is too acidic and deadly.
That’s why probiotic supplements are a great way to improve your gut health. Probiotic supplements contain a variety of good bacteria all protected by a capsule that helps them get to where they want to be instead of dying off in your stomach.
Feeding Your Gut Bacteria
Supporting your gut health is not only a good way to say goodbye to tummy troubles. Good gut health is good for your overall health and WEIGHT!
More and more studies have found that your gut bacteria have a major impact on your weight and fat storage. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you’re eating the right probiotic foods to feed your good bacteria!
The other half of the equation is supplementing the gut bacteria you already have with more good gut bacteria by using a probiotic supplement. Not all probiotics have the same benefits because they use different strains of bacteria. IdealProbiotic is our premium probiotic supplement that contains bacteria that supports healthy weight and weight loss.
Click the banner below to learn more about IdealProbiotic and start improving your gut health!