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7 Best Snacks for a Healthy Gut, Say Dietitians

March 12, 2023

No doubt you know that your diet is incredibly important and impactful to your overall well-being. One of the reasons why it matters so much is that the food we eat is key to the makeup of our microbiome, the microbes that naturally live in and on our bodies. Recent research shows that the gut microbiome actively impacts multiple important body functions.

“Gut health is important for a variety of reasons,” explains Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN. “Approximately 70% of our immune system is in our gut, so having a healthy gut microbiota can help our body maintain its immune health.”

So, what does optimal gut health look like? One indicator can be, well, your poop, says Manaker.

“If a person has a healthy gut, they are typically having regular bowel movements,” she says. “They are not experiencing symptoms like bloating or excessive gas.”

Incorporating more gut-healthy foods can help prevent these problems — and if you are experiencing symptoms, adding more of these foods may soothe them. Snacks are a good place to start, since most Americans eat at least one to three snacks per day. Here are some snacks that can help support a healthy gut.

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1. Yogurt

Recent research on animals shows yogurt with probiotics positively affect the gut microbiome, making it a good choice for a quick bite. Just be sure to pick one that does not have added sugar. Boost the fiber and other nutrients by including berries and your favorite seeds or nuts. You can also throw it all in a blender and make a smoothie to take on the go.

2. Berries

Berries like blueberries and raspberries feature a ton of vitamins, and they provide numerous benefits toward gut health, says dietitian Lindley Wells.

“Raspberries are wonderful to eat because they support the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that is the fuel used by the cells in our gut (colonocytes),” she says. They’re also a great source of fiber, helping maintain gut regularity.

If you need something you can pop into your bag, try a That’s It Probiotic Fruit Bar. Made with three simple ingredients (blueberries, dates, and active cultures), it’s a tasty quick bite with pre- and probiotics.

3. Kimchi

Fermented foods are an excellent choice for gut balance, and dietitian Bianca Tamburello says kimchi — a Korean dish of fermented and salted vegetables — delivers a ton of goodness.

“Kimchi is packed with probiotics, healthy bacteria that are crucial for a balanced gut,” she says.

For the most gut benefits, she says to opt for unpasteurized kimchi. “Be sure to find unpasteurized raw kimchi, like Cleveland Kitchen, for maximum probiotic benefits. The heat from pasteurization kills off the healthy bacteria, which is why unpasteurized kimchi is best for gut health.”

Have a spoonful alongside a stir-fry or on top of a grain bowl.

4. Nuts and seeds

When it comes to snacks for a healthy gut, nuts and seeds are up there, providing a healthy source of fiber. Plus, they’re rich in omega-3s and other nutrients, says Wells. Some of her top suggested ones include chia seeds, hemp, and flax.

“Chia [is a] plant-based source of calcium and rich in quercetin, which has antiviral properties, is anti-inflammatory, and supports gut health by improving gut lining,” she notes.

Hemp is a great source of iron, magnesium, and amino acids, while seeds like flax help keep us regular. And, of course, seeds are highly versatile. Use them as a topper for salads, dips, fruit bowls, smoothies, and more.

Related: The 7 Best Gut Healing Foods, Says Dietitian

5. Popcorn

Sometimes you need a quick bite to eat, and a smoothie just won’t satisfy the need to chew. At times like these, it can be tempting to grab a cheese-dusted crunchy snack from the break room. But, there are better choices that can taste just as good.

Dietitian Marissa Meshulam says fiber-rich popcorn can be a great option. “Fiber is great for our overall gut health, as it keeps things moving and helps promote the growth of good bacteria,” she says. “Popcorn is a great fiber-rich, salty snack to replace potato chips with.”

6. Manuka honey

Another great addition to yogurt, smoothies, and fruit, manuka honey makes our list of snacks for a healthy gut for its many healthful properties. Dietitian Kelly Springer says she not only recommends it to her clients, but she also uses it herself.

“As the pantry staple I always keep on hand, it’s easy to enjoy straight off the spoon or in my favorite snacks for a quick gut, immunity, and energy boost,” Springer says. “I add it to yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, and drizzle it on top of my favorite salads.”

7. Vegetables and hummus

Who doesn’t love a plate of fresh vegetables with a delicious dip? Registered dietician Jamie Nadeau says vegetables and whole grain crackers are a fabulous snack to pair with a gut-friendly dip like hummus, made from chickpeas and tahini.

“Veggies and whole grains are high in fiber, which is absolutely essential for supporting a healthy gut,” says Nadeau. “Legumes are also high fiber and support gut health.”

Read next: The Best Healthy Habits to Improve Your Gut Health Naturally

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