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5 Key Nutrients for Better Gut Health

If you’ve been struggling to get your gut in check, or if you’re curious as to how to keep your digestive system happy so that your body stays healthy, these foods, vitamins, and daily habits should do the trick.

This article is provided in collaboration with Gundry.

“All disease begins in the gut.”

There’s a reason this phrase from Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician many consider to be the “father of medicine,” still rings true today. The digestive tract is one of the largest and most crucial systems in our body, and when our gut isn’t feeling good, neither are we. Research has shown there are undeniable links between gut health and problems with everything from immune deficiencies to mental health issues, skin conditions, endocrine disorders, and even cancer.

This is why paying attention to your gut is so important. A good digestive system is one that’s diverse. We have trillions of bacteria in our intestines—or as experts call them, our “gut microbiota”—and while a small percentage can cause disease, a vast majority of them are what’s known as “good bacteria,” the kind that’s essential to our overall health.

When we’re missing some of that good bacteria is when problems pop up: inflammation, indigestion, even more serious disorders like Crohn’s Disease and IBS are thought to be caused by a “leaky gut,” i.e. a digestive tract lacking in key nutrients. If you’ve been struggling to get your gut in check, or if you’re curious as to how to keep your digestive system happy so that your body stays healthy, these foods, vitamins, and daily habits should do the trick.

Fermented foods

1 of 5 Probiotics

By now we’re all familiar with probiotics, at least on a surface level. Your doctors may have told you to take probiotic supplements when they prescribed a round of antibiotics; or you’ve read studies on how more probiotics can boost your immune system. But what exactly are probiotics and what do they do? And where can you get them naturally?

Probiotics are living microorganisms that can improve your microbiota. They’re the “good bacteria” we were talking about earlier that, when missing, can cause all kinds of problems for your digestive system. If your gut is already well-balanced, more probiotics normally won’t make too much of a difference, but they can greatly improve the health of someone suffering from a leaky gut. And sure, you can take over-the-counter supplements, but often there are easy diet changes you can make to increase your intake of probiotics that won’t break the bank. Fermented foods that undergo a process of transforming sugars into organic acids, are some of the best sources for natural probiotics–think kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi. Plain yogurt can often be another excellent source of probiotics and some studies suggest consuming more of it might even help with dietary issues like lactose intolerance.

Prebiotic Foods

2 of 5 Prebiotics

These are the bacteria you’re likely less familiar with, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important to your overall gut health. Prebiotics are just nondigestible carbs. They’re actually what probiotics feed on, so increasing your intake of these helps to strengthen the probiotics already lining your digestive tract. Think of them as the spinach that makes Popeye’s muscles grow. And you can find them in a variety of foods from asparagus to bananas, chicory, garlic, onions, and whole grains.

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Fiber rich grains

3 of 5 Fiber

Speaking of whole grains, it’s important you’re getting enough carbs—and the right kinds—if you want to boost your gut health. Fiber and non-digestible carbs get broken down in the large intestine and promote the growth of gut bacteria like Bifidobacteria which can increase the feeling of fullness and fight against inflammation. Getting enough fiber in your diet has been shown to improve metabolic processes and even reduce your risk of heart disease. And, like prebiotics, it’s easy to get the right kind of fiber in everyday foods like raspberries, green peas, broccoli, chickpeas, beans, and whole grains.

Green tea

4 of 5 Polyphenols

We’re still learning about polyphenols—the micronutrients we get from certain plant-based foods. We know they’re packed with antioxidants and some research suggests they can help treat everything from digestion issues to diabetes and even cardiovascular disease. They’re digested best by our colon, improving our overall gut health, and though you can take polyphenol supplements you can also increase your intake by adding foods like dark chocolate, almonds, and blueberries or drinking red wine and green tea too.


5 of 5 The B Vitamins

Normally when we think of vitamins for digestive help, we think of Vitamin C or Vitamin D—both of which are great for your gut. But it’s the B vitamins that often get left out. Unfortunately, a deficiency in certain B vitamins (there are eight B vitamins altogether) can cause all kinds of problems for your digestive health. Vitamin B2 helps keep the lining of your digestive tract healthy, breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and converting them into energy. Vitamin B3 helps break down fats and alcohol. Vitamin B6 helps process protein. Biotin does everything from promoting healthy cholesterol to processing carbs, proteins, and fatty acids and eliminating waste. And Folic Acid has been linked to lower levels of colon cancer. So don’t forget about the B vitamins when considering supplements; but foods including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes and citrus fruits are also high in many B vitamins. 

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