All over social media, Gut Health, is being talked about. Whether it's a BeachBody "Coach" trying to push a 4 week gut health protocol or a nutritionist with an online, 1 hour certification telling you that gut health is the reason you're not finding success, it's everywhere.
There is a lot of mixed information about what is important and what is bogus. Many of the companies and influencers that are pushing supplements and cleanses make it sound like their pill/protocol/routine is the ONLY way to ensure you have a happy gut.
However, as a Registered Dietitian, the only credentialed and legally protected nutrition profession out there, we are preaching something that won't cost you $400 a month in pills to make something happen. Instead, the answer that I use the most with clients that ask about gut health, is that you can get everything you need through the food that you eat.
Here's what you need to know: Gut health is VITALLY important to overall health and wellbeing. More and more research comes out each month verifying the thought that our immunity lies within our gut, as well as the key to prevent chronic disease. Nutrition is the most important thing you can do to help change/reduce your risk of chronic disease.
The quality of the food that we eat matters most when taking care of our bodies. If you have a known food allergy or intolerance that causes you GI upset, it is definitely best to remove it from your diet. The focus of what we should be doing should really turn to the variety of food, eating many different fruits and vegetables, as well as high quality proteins and getting adequate water intake as well.
We should look at the amount of probiotics we are getting in through food sources like yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. Probiotics are little, good bacteria that we should be putting into our microbiome/gut to help with digestion. If you don't eat some of the foods mentioned, look into a simple probiotic supplement that you can grab from any grocery store. Lactobacillus is the most common strain and is found most readily available.
To feed the probiotics, we need prebiotics! Prebiotics are actually fiber that comes from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Not only does fiber help the good bacteria flourish, it also helps to reduce your cholesterol levels, keep you fuller for longer and prevent constipation. Fruit and vegetables are excellent sources, as well as whole grains like brown rice, wheat, oats, millet, barley. Fiber also helps with reducing bloating overall, which is another major concern most people have with gut health. The recommendation for fiber is 25g a day for women and 35g a day for men. Getting color and whole grains in at every meal can help you ensure you're getting enough in.
You don't need some coach telling you to buy $400 worth of supplements to fix your gut when all it does it give you diarrhea. Start focusing on good, well-rounded meals and include color and your gut will thank you!