While we are no fans of a strict and restrictive diet, there are some food rules we swear by. These practical food guidelines simply help us feel better, particularly in our guts. We try our best to avoid these foods so that we can better absorb the nutrients of healthier foods, and so we can keep the healthy bacteria in our microbiomes thriving.
The truth is, when we nosh on these unhealthy foods all the time, we’re weakening our gut, which allows bad bacteria to flourish. A continual diet of these bad foods can lead to years of poor gut health.
The next time you eat one of these unhealthy foods, take some time to notice how your body feels. Keep a food journal and see the difference between how your gut feels after one of the foods on this list versus a plate full of whole grains, veggies, and healthy fats.
This is by no means a list of “never eat again foods,” but simply a list to try your best at minimizing. Here are 6 foods to decrease your consumption of in order to improve your gut health.
Milk is made up of two proteins—casein and whey. These proteins are incredibly difficult to digest and can often lead to food sensitivities. Many people also lack the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose in milk. When you are unable to break down lactose, you will experience gas, bloating, and diarrhea as your gut tries to ferment the sugar.
You’ve heard it a million times before—gluten is a common culprit when it comes to digestive distress. While you don’t have to eliminate gluten entirely unless you have a known sensitivity or allergy, try only consuming local, minimally processed breads. When you have an easy option to go with a gluten-free product instead, go for it. Avoiding gluten can help lower inflammation and insulin resistance, all while helping people lose weight.
An enormous amount of soy today is genetically modified and produced with pesticides. These pesticides can lead to all sorts of gut issues that ultimately lead to leaky gut. Pesticides commonly used in soy production can also act as an antibiotic in your gut and block enzymatic pathways. Oy, not good.
Like soy, corn is commonly genetically modified and produced with pesticides. Many people have similar reactions and sensitivities as they do to gluten. Corn is a common allergen that is known to cause gut trouble. If you experience skin rashes like eczema or hives, try eliminating corn for some time to see if your skin clears up.
Perhaps the biggest offender of all, sugar is a total gut foe. This includes refined cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and “healthy” sweeteners like coconut sugar, and the many other sugar substitutes on the market. The bad bacteria in your gut feeds on sugar, so when you consume a lot of sugar, you are allowing bad bacteria to flourish.
Alcohol is essentially liquid sugar, so you know we had to add this to the list too. Alcohol also irritates the stomach and intestines and suppresses hormones that protect against inflammation. We know this is a tough one to avoid, but give your gut a break from alcohol every so often.
What can I eat instead?
With so much out there that can cause gut trouble, what in the world can we eat? Healthy and clean proteins like legumes, nuts and seeds, and fish, healthy fats like avocado, and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa are all beneficial to the microbiome. And of course, load up on those veggies!