by Daniel J. Harrison

n recent years, health and nutrition experts have increasingly emphasized the link between a healthy gut and better overall health. It is no surprise that the foods people consume daily play a vital role in the digestive tract’s health. Reshaping our diets to increase fiber intake and “good bacteria” through probiotics is an effective way to improve both gut and general health. It can reduce bloating and inflammation, assist with digestion and weight loss, and lead to simply feeling better.
For those trying to change their diet to improve gut health, the good news is that many foods and drinks with high fiber and probiotics are readily available at most grocery stores. Even better news, experts suggest that replacing just a few foods every day with some of the gut healthy foods mentioned in this article is a safe and easy way to improve gut health and, in turn, reap the associated benefits that enhance overall wellbeing.
First, to increase fiber intake, foods like lentils, black beans, green peas or broccoli would be welcome additions to lunch or dinner. For a midday snack, replace those potato chips and other processed foods with fiber-rich nuts like almonds or fruits like apples, raspberries, pears or bananas. Incorporating these foods into a diet will improve digestive function, and experts also claim that high fiber intake helps reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, as well.
As for probiotics, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh and miso are widely recognized and accessible forms of probiotics that attack the bad bacteria in the body. Suppose these fermented foods are too strong for the palate. In that case, other common foods that contain the same type of probiotic properties include live culture yogurt, gherkin pickles and other pickled vegetables. Apple cider vinegar, a fermented juice created by crushed apples, is also a wise option that has been used for centuries to kill off the bad bacteria and improve digestion and blood sugar levels, among many other benefits. Apple cider vinegar can be used as a marinade or as a base for a homemade salad dressing or vinaigrette. Some even drink small amounts of it right from the bottle or dilute it with water to act as a gut-healthy alternative to sugary sodas and other carbonated drinks.
Two other types of popular probiotic drinks also offer gut-health benefits. Kombucha, a fizzy and tart fermented black or green tea, originated in Japan 2,000 years ago, remains available in an assortment of delicious flavors. Kombucha is abundant with probiotics and experts claim that the live bacteria in Kombucha improves digestion and inflammation. Kefir, a cultured dairy drink, also contains probiotic-rich ingredients. Fruit flavored Kefir smoothies are found in most grocery stores and can quickly improve a daily breakfast routine. Plenty of recipes to make Kombucha and Kefir at home are also widely available online.
Simply adding any of the above foods or drinks to a daily diet can improve gut health and are particularly beneficial to those who suffer from inflammation, bloating or any other stomach pain and discomfort. Even if digestion is not a problem, various studies conclude that improved gut health can lead to several other significant health benefits, like reducing risks of health disease and cancers, improving mood and sleep and aiding weight loss. Because there are dozens of gut-healthy foods available for consumers, they can easily be added to a daily diet today and, at last, help begin the journey to living a happier, healthier life in 2021 and beyond.