Registered dietitians say this is the absolute worst food for gut health
In addition, how to improve gut health with several food supplements.
If you are trying to improve your gut health, the first step is to take inventory of your diet. What you eat can affect the amount of good and bad bacteria in your gut microbiome – and when there’s an imbalance, it can lead to a wide range of health problems.
To learn more about how diet affects the gut and the number one food to avoid, we asked experts to weigh in. Here’s what they had to say.
How your eating habits affect gut health
The food an individual eats directly affects their gut microbiome, which is responsible for a wide range of functions, including immunity, digestion and metabolism, among many other processes. Imbalance of healthy gut microbes can contribute to poor metabolism, poor digestion and weight gain, among other negative health consequences, Mary Wirtz, MS, RDN, CSSD, nutrition consultant in Mom loves the bestexplains.
“Intestinal microbiota is a complex ecosystem found in our intestines. It varies greatly from person to person, but eating habits may be responsible [for] up to 20-50% of these microbiota variations,” he says Dr. Seifeldin Hakim, MD, a gastroenterologist with Memorial Hermann in Houston.
It is important to maintain a balance between good gut bacteria and bad gut bacteria in order to have a healthy gut and avoid an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Eating yogurt helps create good bacteria and is considered a good source of good bacteria and acts as a probiotic.
In addition to microbiota, eating spicy food can lead to hyperacidity and heartburn problems, adds Dr. Hakim. Drinking soda can increase acid refluxand cause bloating and excessive burp which can lead to upper abdominal discomfort. Fiber-rich foods like vegetables and fruits can help jail and they improve the work of the intestines as well as promote the growth of good bacteria.
The worst food for your gut
So what are the absolute worst foods for gut health? Deep-fried foods like French fries and other deep-fried foods—including donuts—are very harmful when it comes to gut health.
“These foods are extremely high in fat, mostly trans-saturated fat, and offer very little in the way of health-promoting nutritional qualities, such as vitamins and minerals,” says Wirtz. “Trans-saturated fats are associated with inflammatory markers and are not beneficial for promoting gut health.”
The food you eat instead
For a healthy gut microbiome, Wirtz recommends sticking to prebiotic and probiotic foods.
Food sources rich in prebiotics include:
Beans and lentils
Whole grains such as oats, quinoa, barley and brown rice
Fruits including berries, pomegranate, melon, applesbananas and citrus fruits
These listed foods are rich in dietary fiber and are essentially food on which “good” intestinal bacteria reproduce.
Food sources rich in probiotics include fermented foods such as:
All of the above foods have beneficial microbiota (microorganisms) that improve an individual’s microbiome.
“A diet based on whole foods that are rich in fiber, probiotics, and essential nutrients is optimal for the intestines. In particular, high-fiber foods like chickpeas and lentils contain a type of fiber called prebiotics that help stimulate the growth of healthy microorganisms in the gut,” he says. Beata Rydyger, BSc, RHN, registered nutritionist based in Los Angeles.
Legumes in general are also rich in B vitamins, which play a key role in shaping the diversity of the microbiome.