5 Gut-Healthy Ingredients To Add To Your Grocery List
Eating healthy is a simple concept in theory, but when it's time to head to the grocery store, it sometimes feels like all bets are off. When you're surrounded by processed foods and a seemingly endless range of ingredients, if you don't go in with a plan it can be incredibly easy to slide off track. There's another level of difficulty added when you're aiming to improve your gut health, and because there are so many sneaky foods that fly under the radar to throw off your gut microbiome, you'd do well to know what you should actually be looking for.
If you're preparing for your big shop of the week and need a little extra guidance, these are the gut-healthy ingredients you should stock up on to keep you feeling your best:
Surprise! It's no secret that veggies are great for your body on the whole, but leafy greens are particularly beneficial for supporting your gut health when consumed regularly. "Everyone needs to include leafy greens in their diet," gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., MSCI, author of The Fiber-Fueled Cookbook, previously stated. "They have almost no calories and are so jam-packed with nutrition…how can we talk about nutrition and not include leafy greens in some capacity?"
In particular, consider adding cruciferous veggies to your shopping list as they're full of fiber and powerhouse antioxidant phytonutrient sulforaphane glucosinolate, which supports the digestive tract and your gut microbiome.
Low-sugar and low-fat yogurt have had their moment, but it's really full-fat yogurt that can provide the most benefit to your gut. "A lot of people are like, 'If I'm trying to lose fat, I don't wanna eat fat,' but actually, the fat can help keep you fuller for longer," gut health expert Megan Rossi, Ph.D., R.D. (aka The Gut Health Doctor on Instagram), author of How To Eat More Plants, once told mbg. "Also, the fat protects the live microbes that are within the yogurt, and those microbes can help regulate the gut-metabolism axis."
Every good shopping list should include whole grains, and quinoa is a strong choice for keeping your gut in check. "It's got plant-based protein in it as well, which is good for the [gut] microbes," Rossi notes. Quinoa also stands out as it contains fiber—a carbohydrate that helps to not only keep you full for longer but also balance your blood sugar so your energy levels, cardiometabolic health, and gut health are at their best.
As for spices and seasonings, ginger is well known for its soothing properties that can have a positive impact on your gut. "Ginger is not just a flavorful addition to your meal; it's been used for thousands of years as a tool for soothing the stomach due to its calming herbal bioactive properties," functional medicine practitioner and NYT bestselling author Will Cole, D.C., previously wrote for mbg. "In fact, studies have shown ginger's actions in the body to promote a healthy inflammatory response after just one month1 of consistent use."
Cooking oil is essential, but with so many options lining the shelves, which should you buy? The answer is simple: extra-virgin olive oil. "Olive oil is packed with heart-healthy polyphenols and fatty acids, which also help to promote good bacteria in your gut," Cole wrote. "Fatty acids and polyphenols aren't just limited to olive oil; other foods like almonds and flaxseeds are rich in both of these nutrients."
Bonus: A greens powder
Although not available at the grocery store, if you're really looking to prioritize gut health and give your body an extra kick of nutrients, there's no ingredient better for the job than a greens powder. Namely, mbg's organic veggies+.
Packed with 31 unique ingredients from organic sea vegetables to leafy greens, and even a range of botanical herbs like ginger and turmeric, this greens powder packs a punch. Just 1 tablespoon provides your body with an array of plants and bioactives that you would likely never be able to squeeze into an ordinary day. But on the note of gut health, organic veggies+ also feature prebiotic fibers, digestive enzymes, and probiotics, which aid in digestion support and help limit bloating.*
Grocery shopping is your opportunity to stock up on the ingredients that actually support your health goals, and heading into it with a list of what you need to fuel your gut can make all the difference in crafting quality meals that allow you to feel your best. Knowing how to eat for gut health is an acquired skill but one that can help you to live without the discomfort that comes from an unhappy belly.
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career, and formerly worked at SheFinds. Her byline has also appeared in Women’s Health. In her current role, she writes and edits for the health, movement, and food sections of mindbodygreen. Readman currently lives in New York City.