The Best Foods for Gut Health
Originally published by HealthKick Nourish Partner Daily Harvest
We are so happy to have Daily Harvest on the HealthKick platform, a brand dedicated to more than just delivering delicious meals. They’re on a mission to support your overall well-being through food. One of the areas that both their community and our members are very interested in is gut health. A balanced, vibrant gut is central to so many aspects of health, from the robustness of your immune system to the stability of your mental state.
Inside each of us, a bustling community of trillions of microorganisms resides. This gut microbiota functions like a second brain, orchestrating various physiological processes that contribute to wellness. Science tells us that thoughtful, diverse eating is one of the most effective ways to cultivate a healthy gut.
Daily Harvest aims to empower you with a dietary diversity often missing in today’s fast-paced, processed food culture. They utilize many nutrient-dense ingredients designed to feed the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. And they do it all without resorting to added sugars or artificial ingredients.
Because when you eat better, you feel better — and it all starts in the gut. So, let’s talk about some of the best foods to maintain your gut health.
1. BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Butternut squash is a staple that should find a place on every gut-conscious eater’s plate. Abundant in vitamins A and C, it is more than just eye candy.
This vibrant vegetable boasts an impressive nutritional profile that also includes a variety of antioxidants like beta-carotene. Yet its crowning glory resides in its soluble fiber content.
This type of fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance that supports the digestive process. As this soluble fiber journeys through the digestive tract, it provides essential nourishment for gut bacteria.
In the grand ecosystem of your gut, this humble squash serves as a catalyst for the growth of beneficial bacteria, helping soothe bloating and constipation. As for its culinary range, butternut squash lends itself to both savory and sweet dishes. Whether it’s a creamy autumnal soup or a hearty squash risotto, its versatility is undeniable.
When it comes to prebiotic prowess, oats are nothing short of spectacular. Rich in fibers like beta-glucan, these grains serve as sustenance for your gut microbiome.
As these fibers ferment in the large intestine, they act as a fuel source for beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria. Their fermentation produces short-chain fatty acids that support a healthy pH level in the gut.
As a result, oats maintain the digestive system’s stability, integrity, and optimal function. This makes them particularly useful for those dealing with gastrointestinal conditions or otherwise sensitive stomachs.
For culinary inspiration, the sky’s the limit with oats. Think beyond morning oatmeal — why not craft some homemade oat milk or incorporate oats into a savory lentil loaf? They can even find their way into smoothies or serve as a flavorful topping for kefir or kombucha.
An apple a day doesn’t just keep you away from the doctor…it’s also a boon for your digestive health. The types of fiber found in apples include both soluble and insoluble variants, but it’s the soluble fiber, known as pectin, that’s a game changer for your gut.
Pectin aids in absorbing water, bulking up stool, and supporting its transit through the digestive system. The result? A regular digestive system.
Moreover, pectin fosters a conducive environment for the growth of beneficial bacteria, essential for a balanced gut microbiome. Turn them into homemade applesauce, toss them into salads, or incorporate them into your breakfast oatmeal. With so many recipes, making apples a daily staple is easy.
When it comes to berries, the gut benefits are beyond just their palatable flavors! Bursting with vitamins and minerals, berries actively support the natural growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. The variety matters, too.
Blueberries, for example, are rich in antioxidants, which support the body’s natural fight against the effects of external stressors. Strawberries, on the other hand, come packed with polyphenols, compounds that support healthy bacteria and overall gut health.
The research is compelling as well. Multiple studies have cited berries’ high fiber and nutrient content as integral in maintaining a balanced gut microbiota. As for your diet, berries are versatile — make a berry smoothie, sprinkle them on yogurt, or simply enjoy them fresh. Their small size but potent impact make them an easy yet effective addition to gut wellness.
If you want some gut health on the go, Daily Harvest’s Raspberry + Fig bites offer all the nutrients of multiple berries in a bite-sized, naturally sweet format.
Bananas are more than just a convenient snack. They’re packed with nutrients that are golden for your gut.
Soluble fiber in bananas helps support gut function and digestive processes. This fiber serves as fuel for beneficial gut bacteria, maintaining a balanced gut microbiota. Moreover, bananas contain inulin, a type of fiber known for its prebiotic effects.
Energy slumping? A banana is a quick fix. Not just a burst of natural sugar, bananas are rich in essential nutrients that can perk you up instantly.
6. BLACK BEANS
Overflowing with protein and fiber, black beans extend an open invitation to beneficial gut bacteria. The high fiber content in black beans is thought to act as a prebiotic, providing sustenance for your gut microbiota.
The great thing about beans is that they’re incredibly cheap and easy to incorporate into your cooking. They also are a great protein-rich alternative to meat products if you’re leading a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.
Throw some black beans in a rice bowl, mix them into chili, or create a comforting black bean soup. A black bean salad might be the perfect option if you’re on the go. Although you may think of probiotics or prebiotic food as reserved for fermented foods like kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut, black beans also offer prebiotic health benefits.
Leeks take your meals and your gut health to a whole new level. These green wonders are rich in prebiotic fiber, a nutrient that’s basically a buffet for your good gut bacteria.
This fiber creates an environment conducive to the growth of beneficial bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, directly supporting a healthy gut microbiome. Which, as we mentioned, is good for everything from tummy upset to mental health.
Aside from slicing and sautéing, you can use them as a base for broths or add them to casseroles and stews. For a lighter touch, they’re amazing in frittatas and omelets, too. Prebiotic vegetables like leeks and leafy greens can support healthy blood sugar levels, weight loss, and overall gut health.
8. SWEET POTATOES
The wonders of sweet potatoes for gut health can’t be overstated. Filled to the brim with valuable nutrients like fiber and vitamins A, C, and E, sweet potatoes offer a multifaceted approach to digestive well-being.
The fiber content supports a regulated digestive system and gut microbiota health by acting as a prebiotic. Need some culinary inspiration? Whether it’s sweet potato hash for breakfast, a creamy soup for lunch, or a roasted side dish for dinner, these tubers are incredibly versatile.
There are many studies out there that underline the potent effects of sweet potato’s fiber content in maintaining a balanced gut microbiome. Our Sweet Potato + Miso soup offers a nourishing slurp of gut health in every bite, with the benefits of sweet potato and white miso.
Cultivating Gut Health Through Culinary Choices
The benefits of incorporating black beans, sweet potatoes, and leeks into your diet cannot be overstated. Each offers a unique combination of nutrients designed to support your gut health, from fiber and protein to essential vitamins. These foods are powerhouses for your digestive system, fostering an environment where beneficial bacteria can thrive and contribute to overall wellness.
“At Daily Harvest, our goal is to make this journey to gut health as enjoyable and nourishing as possible. We prioritize dietary diversity, ensuring that each meal we offer is packed with nutrients that support a healthy gut microbiome. That’s why we encourage you to explore these foods and their variants, taking a gastronomic adventure that feeds both your body and your beneficial bacteria.”
As you think about your next meal, consider opting for one of these gut-friendly foods. Whether you experiment in your kitchen or take the simpler route with one of their carefully curated options, you contribute to a healthier, happier gut! And that means contributing to a healthier, happier you.
Don’t forget HealthKick members get $50 off their first Daily Harvest box plus 10% ongoing so make sure to log into your HealthKick account to take advantage of this exclusive offer!
Disclaimer: The information provided on Daily Harvest’s website, emails, social media, or any other platform should not be construed as medical or nutritional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional regarding your diet, including adopting a new eating plan or imposing dietary restrictions.