Dealing with digestive issues like IBS, leaky gut, bloating, and constipation can be endlessly frustrating. If you’re here, you're probably desperate for a long-term solution, and one option may be eating foods that heal your gut.
Not only can stomach and intestinal problems be painful, they can affect more than your digestive health. Luckily, you may not need expensive treatments and doctor's visits if you implement the right foods and supplements into your diet.
Eating gut healing food can help reduce inflammation and eliminate harmful bacteria. Moreover, using foods to heal your gut allows your body to absorb nutrients that encourage good bacteria growth.
If you’re keen to get into the foods that heal your gut, stick around. All the foods and daily supplements we share have been proven to produce results based on scientific studies.
16 foods and supplements that help to heal your gut
Here are our top recommendations for ensuring your gut health is in proper form.
Fermented foods are a rich source of good bacteria that help restore digestive health. One of the best fermented foods to add to your diet is Kefir. Kefir is a drink made from fermented milk. The fermenting process makes kefir a rich source of calcium, protein, B vitamins, and more.
Kefir also contains probiotics and yeast, which have been shown to improve the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Good bacteria, more commonly known as probiotics, are a mixture of live bacteria and yeast in our bodies. In the gut, they help make up the microbiome, a collection of trillions of bacteria that aid in many tasks like digestion.
What does this have to do with kefir?
Kefir contains up to 10 billion colony-forming units and 12 different stains of active bacteria cultures, making it a solid choice for improving your gut health.
Legumes provide a fantastic source of plant protein and a range of fibers that the gut can break down for your benefit. They help maintain a diverse gut microbiota, creating an unfavorable environment for bad bacteria.
In addition, legumes contain anti-inflammatory components like dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and trace minerals which may improve your metabolism.
Many people are afraid to try legumes such as chickpeas, beans, and lentils due to gas and bloating. In actuality, gut health experts believe that wind release is a sign of well-fed microbes and isn't cause for alarm. Still, feeling gassy can be unpleasant, so you can start with small amounts of legumes in your diet to test your stomach's strength.
To enjoy all the nutrients, it is also important to cook your beans and other legumes properly. If you still can't handle whole legumes, you can try adding blended legume foods to heal your gut.
3. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables are a group of vegetables that include broccoli, brussel sprouts, arugula, bok choy, cabbage, kale, collard greens, turnips, radishes, and cress. These healthy foods that heal your gut boost the number of friendly gut microbes in the body.
Recent studies have confirmed that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables plays a significant role in microbial diversity and composition. We recommend eating these vegetables, especially broccoli, to crowd out harmful bacteria and improve your gut health.
If you're not a fan of eating whole vegetables, you can try green smoothies or make a puree to add to your meals.
4. Dark chocolate
Yes, chocolate makes the list of gut healing foods!
Research has shown that the polyphenols found in cocoa are a significant fuel source for your gut microbes. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants and essential nutrients that help to reduce gut inflammation.
In addition, cocoa may act as a prebiotic fiber that helps boost the beneficial gut flora. However, the downside is that it's hard to find pure dark chocolate with up to 70% cocoa. Most dark chocolates contain other ingredients and a high percentage of refined sugar or dairy you don't want, so be careful when shopping for it.
Pickles produce a wide variety of beneficial bacteria when you eat them. It’s best to choose pickles fermented in brine or apple cider vinegar since this creates a favorable environment for gut-friendly bacteria.
During the fermentation stage, good bacteria break down sugar and starch, allowing your body to absorb the nutrients easily. This may help your gut to relax, relieving constipation and inflammation.
6. Whole oranges
If you've been looking for an excuse to eat more oranges, you've found it. A medium-sized orange contains 3 grams of soluble fiber that the stomach ferments. It provides a rich source of nutrients that feed good bacteria.
Oranges are low-fructose foods that heal your gut and are less likely to cause gas or bloating. Eating whole oranges instead of orange juice is better when targeting your digestive health, because you need the extra fiber!
Bananas are among the most accessible fruits in any season and may play a role in gut health. Bananas have a unique type of fiber called pectin which can help to relieve constipation and soften stools.
Studies have also found that the resistant starch in bananas can have a prebiotic effect by fueling the gut bacteria to produce beneficial compounds called "short-chain fatty acids." Eating bananas also makes you full and reduces bloating. It is one of the most convenient foods that heal your gut and soothe bowel movements.
8. Leafy greens
Leafy greens are a staple food in many nutritional plans because they have been shown to provide a wide range of health benefits. These vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and swiss chard, are high in antioxidants and can help to reduce gut inflammation.
Eating leafy green foods to heal your gut will also supply your body with a rich source of fiber to relieve bloating. Therefore, if you've been feeling heavy and constipated, you can try leafy green foods that heal your gut.
9. Bone broth
If you're looking for easy foods that heal your gut, bone broth may be a good option. Bone broth is packed with glycine, an essential amino acid recognized for its gut-healing properties. Glycine provides an anti-inflammatory effect by creating new connective tissue to control leaky gut.
Bone broth is also rich in gelatin which may help to satisfy hunger and restore normal hormone function in the gut. Many wellness experts use collagen for leaky gut, and as gelatin is a cooked form of collagen, bone broth is a wonderful source of these healing protein.
10. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is widely known for its significant impact on gut health, and has been proven to help increase microbial diversity. One 2019 study published in Rodex Biology confirmed that vitamin C could help to improve your gut barrier function to balance out the bacteria flora in your gut.
Some common vitamin C-rich foods that heal your gut include oranges, kale, bell peppers, kiwi, brussel sprouts, and strawberries.
11. Vitamin D
Vitamin D provides a wide range of essential benefits throughout the body and can help to improve gut health. It helps to regulate immune responses and gut health by strengthening the gut barrier.
A 2020 cross-sectional analysis published in Nature Communication showed that men with higher concentrations of vitamin D showed great gut microbiome diversity.
Some of the best vitamin D-rich foods that heal your gut include egg yolks, salmon, cheese, and fleshy fish.
However, since you may not get enough vitamin D in your diet, you may try a daily vitamin D supplement. It would be best if you also considered vitamin D3 instead of vitamin D2, since it offers more bioavailability.
12. B vitamins
Essential B vitamins help to regulate the digestive system and prevent leaky gut, diarrhea, IBS, and other gut-related issues. Studies have shown that ingesting vitamin B-rich foods that heal your gut can help to balance microbial diversity.
Vitamin B6 aids nutrient absorption by processing proteins in your stomach.
In addition, vitamin B12 serves as the signal carrier between the brain and the digestion tract to improve gut barrier function.
Constipation, diarrhea, cramps, and other digestive issues may be signs that you have a vitamin B deficiency, but you should consult your doctor before trying a supplement containing vitamin B or other foods that heal your gut.
13. Vitamin A
Recent findings have shown that vitamin A may play a significant role in regulating gut bacteria in the immune system.
Friendly gut bacteria control your immune function and are responsible for keeping you healthy. Moderate levels of vitamin A in your body can help to prevent the immune system from becoming overactive.
Vitamin A helps to increase microbiomes in the gut and crowd out bad bacteria that can make you sick. Spinach is an example of a vitamin A-rich gut healing food that you can easily add to your meals.
Magnesium assists the peristaltic movement that guides food along your gut during digestion. If you are low in magnesium, you may feel constipated, sluggish, and have stomach cramps.
You can get some magnesium in vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and other high-fiber foods that heal your gut. These healthy foods that heal your gut produce a prebiotic effect and promote healthy gut flora, which drives away harmful bacteria.
You can also purchase a magnesium-rich supplement to up your magnesium intake.
Zinc is necessary for many metabolic processes and assists in boosting the immune system. Studies have shown that zinc deficiency can alter gut bacteria makeup and function. It helps to strengthen the gut barrier and prevent the loss of nutrients in the intestinal wall, which can result in leaky gut syndrome.
Zinc is among the essential mineral foods that heal your gut and protect you from digestive issues. Without sufficient zinc, your intestinal wall is compromised and isn’t strong enough to protect you from infection.
Red meat, poultry, and whole grains are all zinc-rich foods that heal your gut.
Last on our list of foods that heal your gut, but certainly not least, is collagen. Many of the foods that heal your gut on our list need collagen as a cofactor to restore gut health and repair the intestinal tract.
Collagen and gut health are intrinsically intertwined, as collagen may help keep intestinal issues such as leaky gut at bay. Research has shown collagen peptide benefits in healing gut barrier dysfunction, so people with leaky gut may be encouraged to take collagen supplements to repair the gut lining and prevent nutrient loss.
There is some research to answer the question, “How long does it take for collagen supplements to work on gut health?” For example, one study found that 20g of daily collagen peptide supplementation over the course of eight weeks may greatly reduce bloating and improve mild digestive symptoms.
This being said, it’s important to realize that not all collagen supplements are created equal, and not all collagen supplements are going to be great collagen for gut health. This boils down to a few factors, such as type of collagen additives in the supplements, and absorption rate.
To get the best absorption from your collagen supplement, look for hydrolyzed collagen, also known as collagen peptides. This collagen has undergone the chemical process of hydrolysis to break the molecules down into easily digestible pieces.
Since digestion is what we are trying to improve, it’s important to provide your body with a supplement that is easy to digest and absorb!
At ProT Gold, our collagen supplements have gone through the process of hydrolysis more than once to break the molecule size down even further. This is called nano-hydrolyzed collagen.
Our easy-to-digest collagen has been proven to achieve full absorption in just 15 minutes or less, making it a simple solution as a daily supplement for gut health.