Gut Health & Good Vibes: 7 Foods For A Healthy Gut

Clean gut, happy gut. That’s what they say, right?! While it might not be the sexiest of topics, our gut health is connected to so many other aspects of our health and well-being. The bacteria that lives in our digestive tracts — microbiomes — can have a big impact on our overall health, from inflammation levels and fat loss to anxiety and depression.

To maintain great gut health, doctors say it’s best to eat foods that contain lots of fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics. Let’s break those terms down quickly for you:

Fiber: Fiber is a plant-based nutrient that helps regulate the speed at which food moves through our gut. It’s actually an indigestible part of plant foods that travel through our digestive system, absorbing water and improving our bowel movements.

Probiotics: These are “good” live microorganisms that can combat “bad,” infection-causing microbes. Probiotics are naturally occurring and have shown to fight off digestive disorders and upset stomachs.

Prebiotics: While probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria, pre-biotics are non-digestible fibers found in foods like bananas, onions, and garlic. Prebiotics go through a fermentation process in our digestive tract that helps increase the number of good bacteria in our digestive system.

Now, let’s dive into seven foods that are essential for a healthy and happy gut.

Eat This, Not That, for a Healthy Gut


Kimchi a staple side dish from Korean cuisine. It’s made from salted and fermented vegetables, such as radishes and  napa cabbage. The magic of kimchi occurs because it’s fermented, which is what makes it a probiotic. It’s also a great source of fiber, too. You can find kimchi at many Korean restaurants, or you can get creative and make it in your own kitchen. As an easy (and just as good-for-you) alternative, make your own sauerkraut. Simply combine sliced cabbage with kosher salt and then cover for a minimum of three days. The bacteria on the cabbage leaves will ferment the vegetable’s natural sugars into lactic acid, creating powerful probiotic qualities for your gut.


Okay, this isn’t a single food item, but all legumes are really good for your gut, so we have to mention them all. Think: chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, split peas, and white beans. The protein, fiber, and carbohydrates in legumes are found to exert beneficial effects when it comes to GI.. However, soaking beans before cooking them makes them less likely to cause bloating and gas, so stick to making your legumes from scratch versus buying the canned version. Legumes go great on summer salads, with quinoa or rice, or inside a tasty burrito.


Here’s an example of a prebiotic food to add to your grocery list. Garlic promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria called bifidobacteria, which is found in the gut. It also prevents disease-promoting bacteria from growing in our digestive system. The beauty of garlic is you can add it to almost anything (well, maybe not ice-cream) and it only makes your dish taste better. You can roast it, pan fry it, or even eat it raw. There’s never a bad time to eat garlic bread either, so do it knowing you’re treating your gut well!


These small, versatile fruits pack a punch when it comes to health benefits. Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are all filled with antioxidants, fiber, and naturally-occurring sugars. Their fiber content also helps promote a healthy digestive tract. Top them on a morning bowl of oatmeal (for extra fiber!) eat them straight from the carton, or indulge in a homemade mixed-berry pie.

Barley, bran, and bulgur.

These three “B” grains are whole grains that are chock-full of fiber to ensure things stay movin’ and groovin’ down below. All of these grains are forms of soluble fiber and have shown to help with bowel irregularities while lowering the risk for developing diverticular disease. Many of these grains are found in other foods, like cereals, soups, or risotto. You can also find them on their own in a grocery store and cook them to your liking. Top these cooked grains with healthy veggies and a yummy homemade dressing.


Almonds are another prebiotic food that helps improve our digestive health by increasing levels of the “good” bacteria found in our gut. Lucky for us, almonds are also chock-full of other awesome health benefits, helping to lower blood sugar levels, reduced blood pressure, and support maintaining a healthy weight. Snack on them raw, add them to a bowl of oatmeal, or slice them up and include in an Asian stir-fry.

Yogurt and kefir: Another probiotic option for your gut is a fermented dairy food, like yogurt and kefir. These are both cultured milk products that are known for their tart and slightly sour taste. They contain beneficial bacteria that help break down sugars, making them easier to digest while helping to fight off gastrointestinal diseases. Kefir has a thinner consistency than yogurt and is typically sold as a beverage, whereas yogurt is thicker and normally eaten with a spoon. While both are great for gut health, kefir typically contains three times the amount of probiotic cultures than yogurt.

What’s interesting about this list is there are many ways to combine these ingredients into one larger meal that will be super healthy for your gut. Almonds with yogurt? Legumes with barley? Kimchi with berries? (Okay, maybe not that last one.) All of this is to say that these foods — plus many more — are great as standalone food items for your gut, but make an even better contribution to your health if they’re part of a larger meal. Don’t be shy when it comes to eating fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics. Your gut will surely thank you.

Foods That Harm Your Gut

Now that we know a handful of foods and nutrients that promote a healthy gut, it’s also important to learn about certain foods we should avoid that can add more harm than good to our digestive tract. Foods that are heavy in gluten (white bread, pasta, etc) are said to increase inflammation in the body and cause uncomfortable bloating. Soy products, like tofu and edamame, are often mass-produced and are genetically modified (GMO), which can lead to dysbiosis (an imbalance in your GI tract) and leaky gut. Corn is another tricky food that often contains GMOs and can make things funky in our digestive systems. Lastly, stay away from excess sugar! Sugar can cause a lot if issues in our gut, feeding on bad bacteria, causing yeast growth, and helping promote dysbiosis.

At the end of the day, if you focus on fresh, organic, and whole foods, you can count on your body being fed with the right nutrients for a healthy body. Focus on a smart balance of fiber, protein, and carbs, and add in pro and prebiotics to the mix.

4 Benefits of Green and Black Tea

Since their origination in China, green and black tea have been known to be some of the most beneficial beverages to drink. Both types are full of antioxidants and offer a number of health benefits.

The benefits and reasons for drinking do differ between the two types. So, what are some of these benefits of drinking green and black tea?

Benefit #1: Caffeine

Both green and black tea contain traces of caffeine. This is a benefit to you if you need a little pick-me-up and do not consume coffee or energy drinks.

According to Mayo Clinic, eight ounces of brewed black tea contains 47 milligrams of caffeine while the same amount of green contains 28 milligrams. If you are looking to benefit from the caffeine in tea, we recommend brewing a fresh cup of black tea.

Why is black tea stronger than green tea? Why are the caffeine levels higher? It’s all dependent on the production process, also known as oxidation.

Simply put, oxidation is a scientific process using oxygen. Black tea, is oxidized (left to react with oxygen) for longer, which turns the leaves into a dark color. Therefore, black tea has a stronger and deeper taste.

In contrast, green tea is not oxidized for a long time – the leaves are heated and dried before any oxygen can react with the leaves. This is why green tea has a lighter color and taste.

So, if you need a little boost of energy, black tea might just do the trick!

Benefit #2: Antioxidants

Both green and black tea contain many antioxidants. However, according to Healthline, green tea tends to have “stronger antioxidant properties.” What would the antioxidants in green tea do for you?

For starters, they prevent free radicals, which lead to the breaking down of cells in your body. Consequently, your body’s damaged cells make you prone to getting sick.

It is important to note that the formation of free radicals occurs naturally in the body. Therefore, drinking green tea does not rid of all free radicals. What it does is provide your body with antioxidants to decrease or prevent the impacts of free radicals.

Sources such as WebMD cite studies that show the antioxidants in tea have been proven to:

  • Decrease the chances of heart disease
  • Decrease the chances of stroke
  • Lower “bad” LDL cholesterol

If you are trying to add more antioxidants into your diet, brewing a fresh cup of green tea is a simple way to incorporate them!

Benefit #3: Improving digestion

Black tea has been found to aid in supporting digestion and promoting gut health. Due to the probiotics in black tea (there are some in green tea too), the beverage assists in balancing out your microbiome.

As explained by Susanne Henning, PhD on Well and Good, “black teas are prebiotics, substances that induce the growth of good microorganisms that contribute to a person’s well-being.”

Some ways you can incorporate black tea into your diet include fresh brew (both hot and cold) and kombucha. The best way to reap the benefit of black tea is by consuming it in its natural form and without a lot of added sugar.

Benefit #4: Great for skincare

Both black and green tea are often used in skincare products. You can often find them in face masks, eye patches and lotion.

For example, StyleCraze lists black tea as beneficial to decrease puffiness. They recommend placing cotton pads soaked in black tea under your eyes to reduce under-eye inflammation.

Similarly, green tea is very soothing for your skin, especially when it comes to combating acne. Due to the antioxidants and antimicrobial characteristics of green tea, it helps to reduce oil from your skin.

The most popular ways to implement green tea into your skincare is often through products that contain green tea extract. These can include face washes/scrubs, face masks or topical serums.

Whether you decide to consume it daily or implement it into your skincare routine weekly, green and black tea come with many benefits.

Either way, these natural brewed beverages are a great way to boost your antioxidant intake and improve digestion.

Bring on the Bacteria

With the rise in digestive woes and diagnosed digestive disorders, scientists, doctors, and the general public are learning to get more comfortable talking about all things gut related. One of the biggest and buzziest topics regarding gut health these past few years has been probiotics. It seems that this food trend is here to stay. So, let’s take a look into exactly what probiotics are, if they could be of benefit to you, and how you can start to incorporate them into your diet.

Bring on the bacteria!

First off, it’s important to understand that we all have trillions of bacteria currently residing in our bodies. Most bacteria are living in our large intestines. With today’s trend of recommending everything from our food to our hygiene practices being “clean” you might assume that this gut-bacteria is something we should be wiping out too- not so! These intestinal bacteria help digest our food, produce beneficial byproducts, and protect us against harmful bacteria. We want to keep these good buggies around. Sometimes, due to infection, sickness, travel, stress, or heavy antibiotic use, the scales can tip towards an unhealthy balance of bacteria. This, my friends, is why probiotics are so important.


What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms which, when ingested, extend health benefits to the host. These microorganisms are usually live bacteria, but some can be yeasts or molds. In non-science-y speak: probiotics are “good” bacteria that if you consume them may benefit your health, yippee!

Currently, one of the most studied areas of benefit is probiotics’ ability to reestablish a healthy gut, such as one that may be suffering from chronic diarrhea, slow gut transit, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), abdominal pain, bloating, or ulcerative colitis. This makes sense because if one of these above digestive tract woes is being caused by a harmful pathogen or compromised digestive tract lining, we would want to introduce beneficial probiotics to help chase out the bad bacteria, reduce inflammation, and produce more beneficial by-products to alleviate the uncomfortable GI symptoms.

Probiotics are also being studied, and recommended in some cases, to be used as an immune-system support for allergies, and for benefits to the reproductive tract, oral cavity, lungs, skin, gut-brain axis, and glucose metabolism.

Going through this list of ailments may have you thinking, “well shoot, maybe I should be taking a probiotics pill, I’ve got issues in at least one of these areas!” But before you go out and pick up any old bottle of capsules from your drug store, it’s important to understand that there are numerous strains of bacteria and not all of them are shown to necessarily be helpful for every issue. Before a stop at the pharmacy, I recommend a stop at the grocery.


What foods contain probiotics?

I first recommend consuming probiotics through food sources, and the important thing you’ll want to look for is that a product says it contains “live active cultures” on the label. By ingesting the live bacteria they have a better chance of reaching the areas of your gut that need them the most. Some of the common sources of probiotics are fermented foods such as:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Kombucha

Other food sources of good bacteria, but not living cultures, are sourdough bread, beer, wine, chocolate, and soy sauce. Probiotic supplements are certainly a popular area of interest these days, but again their efficacy and specificity lead me to recommend choosing probiotic foods over capsules at this point unless guided by a dietitian or doctor.


A note on prebiotics

Less commonly known, but I feel just as deserving as all the hype, are prebiotics. You can think of prebiotics as the “food” for the good gut bacteria that will go on to benefit the person who consumes them. Prebiotics can help to selectively balance the health-promoting vs. disease-promoting pathogens, and they work especially well in the large intestine. Much like probiotics, once prebiotic foods are fermented in the gut they can help improve IBS symptoms and diarrhea duration. Prebiotics are most commonly found in non-digestible food sources or foods that contain high levels of resistant starch (meaning the starch is not fully broken down into glucose) such as:

  • Dried beans and legumes
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Artichokes
  • Green bananas
  • Sunchokes
  • And somewhat in wheat, bananas, yams, and sweet potatoes


Practical tips to boost your intake

Regardless of if you currently suffer from digestive or immune system woes or not, it’s a great idea to build up you intestinal defenses by including probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods in your diet on the regular. If you’re struggling for ideas on how to incorporate some of these funkier foods, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Add spoonfuls of kimchi or sauerkraut onto salads and grain bowls
  • Make a marinade or salad dressing with miso
  • Spoon of yogurt on a GFMS Chipotle Poblano Breakfast Bowl
  • Stir kefir into the GFMS Oatmeal Bowl
  • Toss chopped asparagus into the GFMS Cavatappi Bolognese


Article compliments of Casey Seiden MS, RD, CDN, CDE 

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

Gut health seems to be all the rage nowadays, but is it really that important? The answer is yes. Think about it, your gut is responsible for fueling and maintaining the critical functions of your entire body. Consider gut health as another form of self-care. There are many different ways to start caring for your gut, it’s important just to start somewhere. The good news is fermented food is an easy place to start! Fermented foods can actually be more nutritious than unfermented forms. Before getting into the health benefits of fermented foods, let’s talk about what fermented foods actually are.

What are Fermented Foods?

Fermentation is an anaerobic process in which microorganisms where microorganisms (such as yeast and bacteria) break down food components, like starch or sugar, into organic acids or alcohol. The practice of fermenting foods came about centuries ago as a way to preserve foods or improve their flavors. This practice is over 13,000 years old.

You’ve heard that fermenting food in the process of  making wine and beer. But in fact, fermenting foods and beverages results in the growth of good bacteria, also known as probiotics. When you add probiotics into your diet, your gut will thank you!

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

Boosts Immune System

Did you know that 70% of your immune system resides in your gut and digestive system? Therefore when you disrupt the bacteria levels in your stomach it significantly weakens your immune system. The probiotics from fermented food maintains the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, strengthening your immunity. This means less chances of catching the common cold or the flu! If you’ve already caught a cold, the good news is that fermented foods can actually help you recover quicker.

Your immune system is your first line of defense against infection. Maintaining its effectiveness by drinking probiotics means fewer sick days and more time to enjoy yourself!

Reduces Irritation in Digestion System

If you suffer from reoccurring digestive issues introducing fermented foods into your diet will relieve symptoms. Studies have proven daily probiotics intake reduces irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. For everyone who suffers from regular bloating, probiotics are for you.

Fermented foods will also reduce other irritation that occur in the digestive system. These include diarrhea, gas, and constipation.

Makes Regular Food Easier to Digest

If you suffer from an intolerance to certain food groups, fermentation reduce the irritation the food causes. The process of fermenting foods breaks down their nutrients in to simpler, more digestible nutrients.

For example, approximately 65% of the general population struggles to properly digest lactose past infancy. If you’re one of those people who has a lactose intolerance but loves dairy (we understand), fermented foods are your solution. The natural sugars in milk, AKA lactose, are broken down into simple sugars. Your body can digest simple sugars a lot easier and without any uncomfortable digestive issues later. So feel free to browse the yogurt aisle knowing you won’t have digestive problems and you’re getting benefits from the probiotics.

Some foods such as seeds, nuts, and grains have an amazing nutrition profile that our bodies aren’t able to absorb fully. By fermenting these foods, our bodies will actually absorb more of the nutrients that are found in these foods. And who doesn’t want more nutrients?

Other studies have proven that fermented foods may also promote positive mental health benefits. These include less anxiety and depression. Other health benefits of fermented foods may include weight loss and reduced blood pressure. Fermented foods need to be a regular part of your diet.

Easy Fermented Foods to Start With

  • Yogurt – You’ve probably already been eating this probiotic rich food, which is great news. All you need to do is continue eating it! All yogurts are not the same. Keep an eye out for yogurt that has ‘live active cultures’ or lists the bacteria strains listed with the ingredients. Also, beware of the amount of sugar in your yogurt! Some yogurts can be loaded with as much sugar as dessert foods.
  • Sauerkraut – Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. Low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals – the fermentation process makes these nutrients more readily available to your body. Avoid added sugars and preservatives when shopping for sauerkraut. It is extremely delicious and adds texture to any sandwich or salad. Try this Pork Tenderloin Sandwich with Sauerkraut and Swiss Cheese!
  • Kombucha – This is one of our favorite ways to consume probiotics! It is a fermented tea that’s history goes back thousands of years. It is also rich in antioxidants, which are great at protecting your liver. Kombucha is also low in calories. Try swapping it in place of your fruit juice or expensive coffee drink. Beware of added sugars!
  • Miso – You have probably had traditional Japanese miso soup in an Asian restaurant before. Miso is a fermented condiment made out of soybeans. It is generally salty and savory. In addition to traditional miso soup, it is used as a sauce or spread. Try this Miso Butter Shrimp Recipe that is ready in 30 minutes!
  • Tempeh – This is a great vegetarian meat replacement for protein. Tempeh is a product of fermented soybeans that is a traditional Indonesian food. It in addition to being a good source of plant-based protein, it is high in nutrients such as iron and calcium.
  • Kefir – This is a fermented milk drink, cultured from kefir grains. It is a fantastic source of probiotics, even better than yogurt. Kefir contains upwards of 60 strains of bacteria and yeasts. This drink is also an incredible source of calcium.

More Ways to Promote Gut Health

Many of the foods you’re consuming on a regular basic can be detrimental to the health of your gut. Try cutting out food high in refined sugars, alcohol, and artificial additives. Try including more gut healthy foods, such as these 7 foods for a healthy gut.

A healthy gut is extremely beneficial to your overall well-being. With fewer sick days and better digestive health, who wouldn’t be satisfied with the health benefits of fermented foods.