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3 Functional Nutrition Practices To Help Support Your Gut Microbiome

Ximena Araya-Fischel, M.A
Food & Nutrition Writer
By Ximena Araya-Fischel, M.A
Food & Nutrition Writer
Ximena Araya-Fischel, M.A, is a journalist, IIN graduate integrative health coach, E-RYT 500 lead yoga teacher, and 500-Hour certified Pilates instructor.
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
Expert review by
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
mbg Vice President of Scientific Affairs
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.
Image by Andrey Pavlov / Stocksy
August 28, 2021

When you consider there are trillions of microbes that inhabit your digestive tract, it makes sense that these mighty microorganisms are influential to your overall health. In fact, from a functional nutrition perspective, gut health is the starting point to long-lasting well-being. 

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Also referred to as the "second brain," your gut contains a unique combination of living bacteria, both "good" and "bad," influencing everything from digestion to immunity. Good gut health occurs when these species thrive in equilibrium; thus, maintaining their proper balance is paramount to supporting all systems within your body.

In mindbodygreen's functional nutrition training, I learned numerous strategies to promote overall gut health. Read on for a couple of go-to tips!

Eat gut-supporting foods.

Whenever possible, I recommend filling your plate with organic, non-GMO, healthy-fat-packed, locally grown, and sustainably farmed foods that are easy to digest. Below, a few examples of foods you will want to incorporate into your healthy eating routine.

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Say "Yes" To:

  • Healthy fats (wild-caught fatty fish, avocado, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds, among others).
  • Spices (ginger, cardamom, cayenne pepper, and turmeric)
  • Polyphenol-rich foods (berries, cacao, extra-virgin olive oil, chia seeds, walnuts)
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, and collard greens) 
  • Probiotic foods (fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, kefir, miso, etc.)
  • Prebiotic foods (raw asparagus, raw jicama, green bananas, dandelion greens, raw garlic, chicory)

Take a proactive approach.

Through the lens of functional nutrition, being proactive and intentional about an issue before it occurs is pivotal to promoting sustainable health. Functional nutrition looks at how dietary and lifestyle choices can support your gut health on a daily basis, not just when there's a problem. That means regular support through high-quality nutrition choices, regular movement, and sometimes targeted supplementation.*

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Know that variety is key.

Ensuring a vibrant, healthy gut microbiome starts with giving your body the best sources and variety of nutrients it requires. This includes eating fermented foods, taking a probiotic (like mbg's probiotic+ supplement), and including high-fiber vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein in your diet.*

By making strategic lifestyle and dietary changes, you can positively support the microbes in your gut, and gift your body a much-needed wellness foundation moving onward.*

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Ximena Araya-Fischel, M.A
Ximena Araya-Fischel, M.A
Food & Nutrition Writer

Ximena Araya-Fischel, M.A, is a journalist, IIN graduate integrative health coach, E-RYT 500 lead yoga teacher, and 500-Hour certified Pilates instructor from San José, Costa Rica. She received her master's degree in communication and journalism from The University of New Mexico, emphasizing well-being, sustainable fashion, health communication research, and graduating Summa Cum Laude. A former professional dancer, she's earned multiple academic and accredited certifications in performance design, positive psychology, doula training, entrepreneurship, digital marketing, mindfulness, innovation leadership, and integrative health. Her work has appeared at top consulting brands and organizations across Latin American and the US, including Byrdie and Albuquerque The Magazine. She currently lives between Costa Rica and New Mexico.