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Boost Your Health With These 9 Gut Healthy Foods

Posted Jun 16, 2023 Updated Apr 09, 2024

Gut health is a hot topic these days, and rightfully so. Gut health impacts everything from your bowel movement regularity to your immune health, mental health, and more. As a registered dietitian, I find myself talking about ways to support gut health over and over again since it’s so important. In this article, I share the best ways to support your gut health via your diet, along with some other tidbits that can help you on your gut health journey. 

What Are the Best Foods for Gut Health?

Gut health is a key factor to your overall well-being, as it supports immune and mental health and can reduce inflammation within the body. So, it is important to choose the right foods that will not only bolster your gut health but nourish your entire body.

Fermented and cultured foods are the darlings of the gut health world. They contain live probiotics or live organisms that offer a health benefit to the host. Kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso are all examples of fermented/cultured foods, and you can use these ingredients in a variety of ways to spruce up your meals. 

It’s important to note that probiotics thrive when fueled in tandem by prebiotic fibers. Interestingly, prebiotic fiber, by itself, is not digestible to humans. However, the live bacteria that live in your gut use these prebiotics to survive. How do you get these prebiotics? Eat foods like Jerusalem artichoke, onion, and a slightly under-ripe banana to beef up your prebiotic intake.

Additionally, focusing on anti-inflammatory foods can help support gut health too. Inflammation may negatively affect your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients from the food you consume. Think of inflammatory bowel disease or IBS as an example, which can reduce the absorption abilities of your gut.

9 Gut Healthy Foods to Add to Your Diet

There are a wide variety of foods that can help support your gut health. The foods that top the list are those that provide live bacteria, prebiotic fibers, or anti-inflammatory support. Gut health-supporting foods are also free from added sugars and alcohol and aren’t fried.

While eating a diet that is rich in produce, beans, grains, and plant-based proteins will likely support your gut health, some foods should get some extra special attention if you are focusing on this aspect of your health. 

Whole Grains

As we all know, whole grains are all the rage—for a reason! Whole grains not only feed your gut bacteria with prebiotics but they also aid in healthy, productive stools. This helps make the entire digestive process a more “enjoyable” process. Whole grains are also great anti-inflammatories. But the best part about whole grains is that they're easy to buy and add to your daily routine. Simply swap out your morning ho-hum white bread with hearty slices of 100% whole-grain toast!

Examples of whole grains include:

  • Oats

  • Wheat (think 100% whole wheat bread)

  • Bran

  • Barley

  • Quinoa

  • Bulgur

  • Brown rice


Legumes aren’t only rich in protein (and can thereby make you feel full for longer) but they’re also overflowing with healthy fibers. These include prebiotic fibers such as “resistant starch” and “soluble fibers”. These fibers travel through the large intestine without breaking down and land within your colon, acting as fuel for the gut bacteria found there. 

Examples of legumes include:

  • Soybeans 

  • Lentils

  • Chickpeas

  • Peas

  • Peanuts 

As a note, legumes can lead to some uncomfortable side effects like gas and bloating. If legumes do not sit well with your particular digestive tract, feel free to nix these and go for things like high-fiber fruits and whole grains to get your fiber fix.

High-Fiber Fruits

A lot of people don’t always think of fruits when they think of fiber. However, some fruits have a lot of fiber. These fibers divide into two different categories: soluble and insoluble. Both are equally important to the digestion process. Soluble fibers, like those found in pears and guava for example, slow digestion and make you feel full for longer. And insoluble fibers found within the seeds and skins of fruits, such as berries and bananas, prevent and ease constipation to keep your bowels regular. Both are equally necessary—so don’t hesitate to grab a handful of fruit for your afternoon snack!

Examples of high-fiber fruits include:

  • Pears and apples with skin

  • Oranges

  • Avocados (yup, they are a fruit!)

  • Berries

Leafy Greens

It’s no secret that leafy greens are crucial to your health—but why is that? Leafy greens like spinach and kale have risen to stardom within the last ten years and for good reason. Not only do leafy greens provide ample amounts of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K, but they also fuel your “good” bacteria with a source of energy. This allows your gut flora to flourish and prevents those bad bacteria strains from taking control. 

Examples of leafy greens include:

  • Kale

  • Spinach

  • Microgreens

  • Collards

  • Cabbage

  • Beet greens

  • Watercress 

  • Chard

  • Lettuce

Starchy Vegetables

In today’s world, there’s a lot of debate over whether a healthy diet should include starchy vegetables. But of course, everything is good in moderation. And this includes fiber-rich starchy vegetables that are essential to creating that healthy gut microbiome that we all want and need. Starchy vegetables such as corn and white potatoes are “resistant starches”. This means they aren’t converted to sugar within the digestive tract but are instead able to move through the small intestine to the large where they provide essential nutrients that fuel good bacterial colonies. Therefore, adding starchy vegetables as a side to your favorite dish is an easy and accessible way to ensure that you’re fueling your gut.

Examples of starchy vegetables include:

  • White potatoes

  • Sweet potatoes with skin

  • Corn

  • Peas

  • Butternut squash

Fermented Foods

Our digestive tract houses nearly 100 trillion bacteria and microorganisms that are crucial to regulated and productive digestion. Fermented foods have gained a serious track record over the years as one of the healthiest choices for gut health. That’s because they contain live cultures that help balance the gut, especially after medications like antibiotics wipe out the “good” bacteria. 

The interest in fermented foods in the U.S. kicked off with the wide availability of sauerkraut. Since then it's skyrocketed with the rising popularity of kefir, kimchi, and kombucha products. However, not all fermented foods are created equal. Unless you’re making your own fermented foods, look for “naturally fermented” on the label. This ensures that products like sauerkraut were not fermented in vinegar, which does not hold the same levels of live cultures and yeast. 

Examples of fermented foods include:

  • Live kefir

  • Kimchi 

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kombucha

  • Pickles

  • Miso


Like the fermented foods listed above, yogurt has also risen to stardom because of its natural abundance of live active cultures. In recent years, Greek yogurt (which is strained to remove extra liquid and whey) has become popular because of its probiotic density. These probiotics are necessary for regular bowel movements. Not only that but yogurt is also chock full of protein which helps you feel full for longer. 

But pay close attention to what yogurt you choose, as many brands pump their product full of sugar and artificial flavors or colors. Aim for brands with little to no added sugar and add berries or honey for extra sweetness. And if you’re craving something besides plain, opt for brands naturally flavored with blueberries or other fruits.

Prebiotic-Rich Foods

I’ve gone ahead and grouped together a list of “prebiotic-rich foods” which, although coming from disparate food groups, pump your gut full of the necessary goodness that feeds your gut microbiome. These foods include anything from Jerusalem artichokes (also known as a sunchoke), which you can use as a delicious substitute for potatoes or yams, as well as leeks and garlic, which add that bit of pizzazz to any meal. 

As an extra boost, you can also enjoy prebiotic sodas such as OLIPOP. Prebiotic sodas not only pack those needed nutrients but they satisfy your soda craving without the artificial dyes and loads of added sugars found within traditional soda brands.

Examples of prebiotic-rich foods include:

  • Prebiotic soda (like OLIPOP!)

  • Jerusalem artichokes

  • Leeks

  • Garlic

  • Asparagus

  • Chicory root

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

When talking about digestive health, it’s important to add foods that are anti-inflammatories to the mix. First, let’s uncover what inflammation is. At its core, inflammation is the body’s response to anything “foreign” (think of particular pollen or chemicals that trigger a fit of sneezing). This is the body’s defense mechanism. But when inflammation becomes consistent (and thereby unnecessary) this can lead to greater issues like heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. That’s why eating anti-inflammatory foods is crucial for the health of both your gut and overall bodily fitness. Following a Mediterranean-style diet is one step that could help keep chronic inflammation at bay. 

Examples of anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Fatty fish (Atlantic mackerel, salmon, sardines)

  • Flax seeds

  • Walnuts

What Foods Are Bad for Your Gut?

Now that we’ve listed our “dos” for gut health, we have to point out those pesky “don’ts.” Here are a few foods that actively work against your gut health: 

  • Excessive refined sugars

  • Ultra-processed foods and meats (like bacon or hotdogs)

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Ultra-salty foods

  • Fried foods

The Importance of Diet Diversity

As children, many of us were taught that we should have a rainbow on our plates. Greens here, reds here, some blues there—a diversity of food groups and flavors to not only spice up your meal but ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients that your body needs. If you only eat certain vegetables in your daily routine then you only get access to those particular nutrients. This could result in inevitable nutrient gaps.

Additionally, diet diversity can reduce inflammation all across the body. We know that the human body is one big organism, working in tandem across all parts and pieces. Therefore, it’s important to consume foods that, while known for their benefits on the gut, may very well also benefit other parts of your body such as your nervous system or mental health. No part of the body is an island! 

Gut-Healthy Foods: The Takeaway

What can we take away from this? Of course, it’s important to eat “healthy,” but what does that really mean? Healthy is not just—as the mainstream media would have us think—low in calories. Instead, healthy foods are those that fuel our gut microbiome and decrease inflammation within the body. They’re foods that help us digest productively, regulate our bowel movements, and decrease our chances of experiencing diarrhea or constipation. By following the dietary principles we reviewed in this article, like including OLIPOP and other prebiotic-rich choices in your diet, you can support your gut health naturally and deliciously. 


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Cheat Sheet
  • Your gut health can impact your immune, digestive, mental, and many other factors of your health.
  • Focusing on including the right choices in your diet can help support your gut health. In the same vein, avoiding added sugars, alcohol, and other items that are not gut-friendly can help you achieve your gut health goal.
  • Simple steps like swapping out your sugary soda with a prebiotic-containing and lower-sugar OLIPOP soda is an easy way to support your gut health.
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