Top 5 Gut-Healing Foods for Optimal Digestive Health

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As a functional gut health dietitian, I’m all about using the healing potential of food to boost my clients’ digestion and overall wellness. Instead of stressing about what to cut out, I like to highlight all the great gut-healing foods you can ADD to your diet. In this blog post, I’ll share my top five gut-healing foods and give you tips on how to easily incorporate them into your meals for better digestion and gut health.

Gut-Healing Food #1: Quality Proteins

High-quality protein sources like eggs, grass-fed beef, salmon, shrimp, bone broth, and gelatin are key for gut health. These proteins provide essential amino acids that help repair and strengthen the gut lining. Plus, they support the immune system and aid digestion by helping produce enzymes and bile.

Sources of Protein

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish/seafood
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (Greek yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese)
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Edamame
  • Tofu
  • Quality protein powders


  • Distribute your protein intake evenly throughout the day.
  • Aim for 20-30 grams of protein per meal as a general guideline.
  • Animal proteins are highly bioavailable, meaning they are easily absorbed. Plant-based proteins require higher quantities to meet needs, they also contain more carbs and fiber, which can impact tolerance.
  • Experiment with various protein sources to discover what best suits you and your digestive system.

Meal Ideas:

  • Breakfast Boost: Many people find it difficult to consume enough protein in the morning. Consider options like eggs, smoked salmon, collagen, sausage, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese.
  • Protein Smoothies: Blend protein powder with fruits, vegetables, and nut butter for a nutrient-packed and easy-to-make breakfast or snack.
  • Balanced Plate: Aim for a balanced meal with 1/2 plate of vegetables, 1/4 plate of whole food carbs (such as potatoes, root vegetables, fruits, whole grains), and 1/4 plate of protein with a source of healthy fats.
  • Bowls and Stir-Fries: Combine protein with vegetables and serve over whole grains as a quick and easy balanced meal.
  • Bone Broth Rice or Grains: Cooking rice or grains in bone broth enhances flavor while offering gut-healing benefits.
  • Sipping Bone Broth: Enjoy a warm cup of bone broth as a soothing and gut-friendly drink.
  • Collagen: Add a scoop of collagen to your morning coffee or oatmeal for an extra gut healing protein boost.
  • Gelatin Gummies: For a protein-rich snack, make gelatin gummies by mixing gelatin powder with fruit juice and refrigerating until firm. Check out this recipe.

Gut-Healing Food #2: Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, kefir, yogurt, and kombucha are packed with probiotics that keep your gut happy. Eating them regularly can boost your microbiome diversity and lower inflammation.

Sources & Meal Ideas:

  • Yogurt and fermented cottage cheese: Just top with fruit and chia/flax/pumpkin seeds- yum! If you don’t tolerate dairy well, there are plenty of non-dairy varieties too!
  • Kefir: enjoy with a piece of fruit for a snack or add to smoothies. 
  • Kimchi: great way to add a probiotic-rich, spicy kick to an egg scramble!
  • Fermented Pickles: straight from the jar or pair with nuts or cheese for a snack.
  • Sauerkraut: easy add on to sandwiches/wraps. 
  • Fermented vegetable brine: as a shot or mixed with olive oil and use as a simple and delicious salad dressing. 

Gut-Healing Food #3: Prebiotic Rich Foods

Prebiotic-rich foods serve as fuel and nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria. These fibers get fermented by our gut bacteria, creating beneficial by-products like butyrate, which helps keep our gut lining healthy and reduces inflammation.

If you’re new to prebiotic-rich foods, begin with small amounts and gradually increase your intake. Difficulty tolerating even small portions may suggest imbalances in your gut microbiome.

Sources & Meal Ideas:

  • Artichoke: Add them to salads or grill them as a side dish.
  • Oats: Make oatmeal or overnight oats, add to smoothies, or use in baking.
  • Chia seeds and Flax seeds: Mix into smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal.
  • Asparagus: Roast or steam as a side dish, or add to stir-fries.
  • Bananas (under ripe): add to smoothies or eat with nut butter for a snack.
  • Pumpkin seeds: Add to salads, baked goods or try pumpkin seed butter.
  • Plantains: Bake or air-fry as a side dish.
  • Garlic & leeks: Incorporate into sauces, marinades, stir fry or soups.
  • Beans & legumes: Use in soups and salads
  • Onions: Add to salads, soups, sandwiches, or sauté for various dishes.
  • Potatoes: Bake, mash, or roast as a side dish.

Gut-Healing Food #4: Resistant Starch

Resistant starches are found in foods like cooled rice, pasta, potatoes, beans, peas, lentils, and even green bananas. They’re great for supporting gut health and reducing inflammation. How? These starches skip digestion in the small intestine and get fermented by bacteria in the large intestine, creating anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids. Plus, they help keep blood sugar levels steady and improve lipid metabolism.

Meal Ideas:

  • Add chilled rice or potatoes to salads
  • Prepare a three-bean salad
  • Enjoy overnight oats for a convenient breakfast
  • Make a cold rice or pasta salad
  • Incorporate plantain flour or potato starch into smoothies

Gut-Healing Food #5: Anti-Inflammatory Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in flax, hemp, chia seeds, walnuts, fish, are amazing anti-inflammatory fats. Getting a good balance of omega-6 and omega-3 is super important for keeping inflammation at bay and keeping your gut healthy. Most of us get enough omega-6, but we often miss out on those essential omega-3s.

Meal Ideas:

  • Sprinkle flax, hemp, or chia seeds onto yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies.
  • Prepare an overnight chia/oat pudding.
  • Enjoy walnuts paired with fruit or cheese for a nutritious snack.
  • Include fish in your meals at least three times a week (salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, herring)
  • Use flaxseeds as an egg substitute: Blend 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for 5 minutes.


Adding gut-healing foods to your diet can really boost your digestive health and overall well-being. Think high-quality proteins, fermented foods, prebiotic-rich veggies, resistant starches, and anti-inflammatory fats.

These little changes can make a big difference, so start including these foods in your meals today for a happier, healthier you! Instead of stressing over what to cut out, let’s focus on all the good stuff you can add. This is the key to making lasting dietary changes.

Want more personalized functional nutrition strategies to help optimize your gut health and heal for good?

Let’s chat! Book a free clarity call with me here!

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