Getting your gut in check is one of the best ways to feel good, period. "Your gut microbiome is a vast community of trillions of bacteria and fungi that inhabit every nook and cranny of your gastrointestinal tract and have a significant influence on your metabolism, body weight, likelihood of illness, immune system, appetite, and mood," says celebrity nutritionist and health coach Karin Adoni Ben-David.
Phil Catudal, celebrity nutritionist and National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, agrees. "Your gut health and microbiome thrive on a proper homeostasis—balance—which is interconnected with the foods you intake… good and bad," he says. "Your gut has a direct connection to your brain, even being called the little brain, and helps regulate your entire hormone system. Basically, good gut health means a healthier brain and hormones."
This is why it is imperative to take good care of your gut bacteria. You want to consume a lot of fiber from fruit and vegetables and try consuming fermented foods.
Here, we get the facts from Ben-David and Catudal, along with Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition and wellness expert, author of Eating in Color, and creator of the FLR VIP program, on how to up your gut goodness. All three experts recommend eating the following:
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You can also go for kefir, the probiotic yogurt drink that's made with fermenting milk and is packed with good bacteria.
Miso is made from fermented soybeans, plus barley or rice, and contains a range of goodies such as helpful bacteria and enzymes.
The Korean specialty of fermented vegetables brings the benefits of probiotic bacteria along with vitamins and fiber.
Good examples are artichokes, leeks, onions, and garlic, which all contain high levels of inulin (a prebiotic fiber). However, some vegetables like lettuce have little fiber or nutrient value. To help, take a look at our list of the healthiest vegetables, ranked by nutritionists.
What to Avoid
You want to avoid any foods with added sugars and trans fat, as they can disrupt the gut ecosystem and give bad bacteria the fuel they need to replicate. This is especially true for artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin.