Gut Health

Gut health is an area of nutrition that is evolving, and nutrition professionals are learning the extent our gut health helps prevent disease and recover faster from illness. 

 You may have heard about probiotics and even prebiotics, but it can be overwhelming as to what to focus on!

 Should I take a supplement? If so, what probiotic strain for what ailment? And how much?

All of these questions are valid and as a dietitian I can help you determine strains and types for disease conditions on an individual basis. 

For the typical person, there are great ways to naturally increase the health of your gut with nutrition. 

The gut has a balance of different bacteria (flora)…good and bad bacteria. Certain bacteria strains help us digest our food or make sure the bad bacteria don’t take over or help recover after a bout of diarrhea and/or antibiotics. We can consume certain foods to help populate the good bacteria. We can also eat foods called prebiotics – essentially foods that feed the good probiotics so they have a better chance of populating the gut over the bad bacteria. 

What foods contain probiotics?

  • Fermented products – yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, pickles or other pickled foods, miso.

How much should I eat?

  • Research shows that a diet with about 5 billion live and active cultures (LAC) of probiotics is a general guideline for optimal gut health for the average person. 

  • Most people automatically think of yogurt, but kefir is a hidden winner! 

  • A typical single-serving yogurt container has about 1 billion LAC while 1 cup of kefir has about 25 billion LAC!!! What a huge difference. You could have kefir a couple times a week to help populate a healthy gut.

  • Use lower added sugar versions of kefir and yogurt (goal of less than 10-12gm of added sugar, the lower the better). Be careful, because too much added sugar can decrease gut health. 

 What foods contain prebiotics?

Prebiotic foods are those with indigestible fibers for humans which are then fermented in the gut (intestines) by bacteria and become food for the good bacteria (probiotics).  Here are some prebiotic foods starting with more commonly eaten to less commonly eaten. 

  • apples, ripe and unripe bananas, berries

  • garlic, leeks, onions

  • beans and lentils

  • oats

  • chia and ground flax seeds

  • cocoa (unsweetened contains no sugar)

  • jicama root, dandelion greens, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke

  • chicory root 

A good way to start your day with probiotics and prebiotics from food is a smoothie along with a consuming a good balance of complex carbohydrates, healthy fat, and protein to keep you full longer!

Blend the following with water to achieve desired consistency:

  • 1 cup of unsweetened plain kefir or 1 container of Greek yogurt

  • 1 to 1.5 cups of fruit (apple or banana and frozen berries)

  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed

  • ¼ cup dry oatmeal

If you would like more individualized nutrition and help getting unstuck, click below to set up a discovery call!


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