Gut Health

What are the best foods for gut health & weight loss?

April 10, 2024

Written by Maeve Ginsberg

Medically reviewed by Rita Faycurry, RD

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Key Points

  • Your gut plays a big role in many more bodily systems than just your digestive system.
  • Certain foods promote more balance gut microbiota.
  • Supporting your gut may aid in weight loss. 

When it comes to weight loss, you might be wondering how a healthy gut relates to weight management. What is the gut microbiome? Can healing your gut aid in weight loss? What are good foods for the gut? 

Let's break down gut health, how to it relates to weight loss, and the best foods for your gut. We’ll also talk about how you can pursue gut health and what role a registered dietitian can play in supporting your health goals. 

The Basics of a Healthy Gut

Gut health is such a hot topic because, well, as the saying goes, you are what you eat. The foods we consume play a huge role in our overall health and wellbeing.

But it goes deeper than that. Your digestive system is full of microbiota that communicate with your entire body – your immune system, your muscles, even your brain –  influencing your hunger signals, cravings, metabolism, stress levels, and more.

These microbiota are fed by the foods you eat. It probably won't surprise you to hear that highly processed foods tend to slow your digestion down. A poor diet can lead to an "imbalanced" gut where the ratio of good and "bad" bacteria is off.

Why does gut health matter?

When healthy and unhealthy gut microbes are imbalanced, it is called gut dysbiosis. This is an umbrella term for the condition, which can lead to other symptoms, including:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Acid reflux or heartburn

Beyond GI symptoms, you might also experience other chronic conditions, such as anxious feelings, obesity, skin issues, and more.

As you can see, your gut has significant influence over not just your digestive system, but your whole body.

How do you know if your gut needs healing?

It is most obvious that you have gut issues if you experience recurring digestive symptoms, such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or loose stools, reflux, indigestion, or heartburn.

"Because of the vast influence of the gut, there are so many non-GI related symptoms that can be a consequence of poor gut health," says Rita Faycurry, RD. "I've seen clients struggling with low mood that saw great improvement as a result of a better diet. So much of our health starts with our gut!"

Not sure where to start with gut health? That’s where a registered dietitian comes in. Join Fay Nutrition today to start working with a board-certified RD to help heal your gut. 

What is the best diet for gut health?

First things first: there is no singular "best" diet for gut health. There are foods that can help balance gut bacteria and restore healthy gut flora – foods which may also aid you in your weight loss goals.

In general, here are some rules of thumb to remember:

  • Eat whole foods. Cooking for yourself is one of the best ways to care for your gut and manage your diet. That way, you know exactly what's going into your body at (almost) all times.
  • Minimize processed foods. Processed foods tend to be full of excess sugar and oils that can wreak havoc on your gut due to how difficult they are to digest and how they can promote inflammation. Try to keep the packaged snacks to a minimum to care your gut.
  • Consider how to ease digestion. Not all foods are easy to digest, even if they are good for you. Raw vegetables, for example, are more difficult to break down due to their fibrous nature. To ease the burden on your digestive system, try cooked vegetables or fruits instead of raw and try to reduce the number of overall ingredients consumed at each meal.
  • Consider trying probiotics. Probiotic supplements come up in conversation around gut health so often because they can be a powerful addition to your diet. They can help rebalance your microbiome and make it more resilient. Adding in probiotics is often one of the first steps to restoring a healthy gut.

Best foods for gut health

If you're trying to improve gut health and GI symptoms, these foods can help:

  • Probiotic foods: Probiotics don't just come in pill form – they exist in foods too! Fermented foods, to be exact. Kimchi, some forms of yogurt, kefir, miso, kombucha, sauerkraut, and sourdough all have probiotic properties.
  • Prebiotic foods: Prebiotics are non-digestible ingredients that help stimulate beneficial bacteria. Think of them as a support for probiotics and fermented foods. Leeks, onions, raspberries, and beans all contain prebiotics.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Produce is rich in fiber which is a great nutrient for gut health. Aim for a. variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure a mix of micronutrients. Eat the rainbow!
  • Healthy fats: Foods rich in omega-3s and polyphenols like olive oil and salmon can support your gut microbiome and support healthy microbiota.
  • Garlic is a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent, which can help balance your gut bacteria. It also contains prebiotics.

Foods to avoid to support a healthy gut

"Generally speaking, the more natural a food is, the better it is for your gut," says Rita Faycurry, RD. If you're focused on healing your microbiome, limiting processed foods, refined sugars, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners will help support a healthy gut with good bacteria. As always, balance is key.

How can supporting gut health help me lose weight?

There may be a connection between the gut microbiome, metabolism, and obesity, including insulin resistance. Studies show that weight loss may be correlated with improved diversity in gut microbiota and intestinal permeability. This suggests that people with a healthy weight have a  better balance of beneficial bacteria in their gut.

It's not just about bacteria, though. Eating a gut-conscious diet can support weight loss in other ways. A diet rich in fiber helps you feel satisfied for longer while also supporting good digestion. Eating balanced meals that have a good mix of macro- and micronutrients can help prevent blood sugar spikes, similarly keeping you fuller for longer.

Gut health is just part of the puzzle when it comes to weight loss. Keeping it in mind as you hone for diet for your weight goals is the best approach. A registered dietitian can help with that.

Get personalized guidance for your gut health

If you're looking to heal your gut while losing weight, working with a registered dietitian is a great place to start. You might feel overwhelmed by how much there is to learn about gut health and a gut-healthy diet. Have no fear! A dietitian is the perfect partner to aid you on your health journey. Cultivating good gut health might feel daunting, but with a little guidance and trust, you can reach your goals with minimal stress.

Join forces with a board-certified dietitian covered by your health insurance with Fay Nutrition. Fay matches you with RDs who specialize in your area of concern who are covered by your health insurance. This means you can pay as little as $0 per session. And Fay bills to insurance on your behalf so you don't have to worry.

Registered dietitians are the most qualified nutrition professionals to counsel on the gut microbiome and support your health goals for gut health, weight loss, and beyond. Get started with Fay Nutrition today.

The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Fay and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Fay only to confirm educational value and audience interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with a healthcare provider.

  • Cleveland Clinic - The Gut-Brain Connection
  • Cleveland Clinic - What You Should Know About Your Gut Health
  • Cureus - Our Hidden Enemy: Ultra-Processed Foods, Inflammation, and the Battle for Heart Health
  • International Journal of Molecular Sciences - Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on the Gut Microbiota
  • Foods - Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications
  • Nutrients - Preventive Effects and Mechanisms of Garlic on Dyslipidemia and Gut Microbiome Dysbiosis
  • Gut Microbes - The association of weight loss with changes in the gut microbiota diversity, composition, and intestinal permeability: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Maeve Ginsberg

Written by Maeve Ginsberg

Maeve Ginsberg is a health and wellness writer with a personal passion for fitness. As an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and former powerlifter, she loves combining her interests in health with her writing. Maeve has a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. 

Rita Faycurry, RD

Medically Reviewed by Rita Faycurry, RD

Rita Faycurry, RD is a board-certified Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in clinical nutrition for chronic conditions. Her approach to health is centered around the idea that the mind and body are intimately connected, and that true healing requires an evidence-based and integrative approach that addresses the root cause of disease. In her books and articles, Rita offers practical tips and insights on how to care for your body, mind, and spirit to achieve optimal health and wellness.