vitamins and minerals

The Best Foods For Improving Gut Health

Growing research reveals that a healthy microbiome, the ecosystem made up of billions of bacteria living in your body, is a key component of overall well-being. It may reduce the risk of a range of diseases – including inflammation, arthritis, heart disease, cancer and even dementia – and help burn body fat to maintain a healthy weight.

But to maintain this delicate ecosystem of beneficial microbes, most of which live in your gut, you need to feed it properly. Anything with probiotics – aka good bacteria – can help replenish this vital source of health. Here are the foods most likely to do the job.


The king of probiotics, this dairy product is the go-to source of beneficial bacteria. It doesn’t matter if you like Greek or regular, low fat or high fat, it doesn’t matter if the label “live active cultures”, meaning the presence of good bacteria. While you could opt for a fruit-infused mix, make sure you don’t go over 15 grams of sugar per serving — any more than that, and you’ll be feeding bad gut bacteria the sugar they love.


Similar to yogurt, this fermented milk drink is creamy, slightly tart and rich in dozens of probiotics. It’s also 99% lactose-free, making it ideal for those who are lactose intolerant (but start with a small amount just to make sure). Additionally, kefir has 8-11 grams of protein per cup and only 100 calories, which means it can fill you up well when dieting.

miso paste

Dairy isn’t the only source of probiotics: Made from aged and fermented soybeans, this paste is packed with good bacteria. Available in a variety of colors and flavors, this low-calorie food is a great way to add earthy, savory flavor to your meal. It’s also full of protein, fiber, and vitamin K. Miso is great for glazing fish or chicken before cooking, mixing it into a stir-fry, or adding it to liquid to make miso broth. Note that it is a bit high in sodium.


Speaking of fermented soy, this variety is available in cake form and offers a nuttier, tangier alternative to tofu. It can be used in sandwiches, stir fries, or even marinated and grilled on its own. Besides probiotics, tempeh contains about 15 grams of protein per half cup and is a good source of iron. Like most soy products, it can also help lower cholesterol.

Kombucha tea

Sparkling, tangy and slightly tart, kombucha has become a very trendy health drink. Tea is naturally carbonated by “scoby”, floating particles which are actually the bacteria and yeasts that create the probiotics. It is better to buy it from the store than to make it yourself, because it can be difficult and can make you sick. The fermentation process creates traces of alcohol, so stick to one 12oz bottle per day.


A popular condiment for hot dogs, this fermented cabbage has ancient roots as a source of probiotics. However, canned foods are lacking in good bacteria, so stick to anything fresh or refrigerated. Eat it alone or mixed with other foods.

Sourdough bread

This chewy bread gets its particularly sour hue from lactic acid, which delivers a strain of bacteria called lactobacillus, a very important probiotic. Sourdough is also a healthy choice for people with diabetes, as its high fiber and whole grain content helps reduce blood sugar spikes.

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