Skip to main content

5 essential rules for gut health, according to the experts

Follow these guidelines to optimize your gut health

Maintaining good gut health helps you avoid multiple health issues, from chronic illnesses to stress-related problems. Making your digestion and healthy gut a priority may also optimize your well-being and reduce the chances of unwanted disease.

You may not be familiar with the ins and outs of your gut and how it functions. That’s why we’re here to help. What is your gut? It’s the gastrointestinal tract and millions of living microscopic entities within it called gut flora or gut microbiome. 

Here are five essential rules for how to improve gut health, according to experts, to help maintain healthy levels of bacteria and keep your gut functioning at optimal health. 

Broccoli in a bowl
Cats Coming/Pexels

Eat more plants

A plant-based diet means you’re getting polyphenols and their inflammation-fighting protection. Regularly include foods like seeds and whole vegetables and even treats like dark chocolate. 

It’ll help reduce chronic inflammation and boost immunity and heart health while allowing your cardiovascular system to pump blood to every area of your body more effectively.

According to Kim Kulp, RDN, Gut Health Expert and owner of the Gut Health Connection, “The healthiest guts appear to have the greatest diversity of microbes. Including more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes in the diet allows each microbe to enjoy its favorites while providing us with compounds that can reduce inflammation and protect the lining of our intestines.” 

Chocolate cake.
Abhinav Goswami/Pexels

Limit processed and sugary foods

Processed food high in salt and simple sugars allow unhealthy bacteria to grow and thrive. This pushes out healthy bacteria and disturbs microbiome balance. Staying away from too many desserts, ready-made meals, and other heavily processed food products is generally a good rule when learning how to heal your gut.  

Isaac Robertson, the co-founder of Total Shape, believes that maintaining good gut health is crucial for overall well-being. “Processed and sugary foods can disrupt the balance of good bacteria in the gut, leading to inflammation and other health problems. It’s important to limit the intake of processed and sugary foods and opt for whole, nutrient-dense foods instead.”

Suzy Hazelwood / Pexels

Maintain a diet high in fiber

Including a high amount of fiber in your diet helps you maintain healthy bowel movements and lower blood glucose levels and cholesterol while aiding in overall weight loss. This includes gut-healthy foods like dark, green leafy veggies, flax seeds, and whole fruits.

Yelena Wheeler MPH, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, recommends 21-25 grams of fiber per day for women and 30-38 grams for men. “Fiber is beneficial for gut health since it keeps the stool soft and can prevent incidences of diverticulitis,” she says. “Fiber also balances the PH within the gut.”

Man doing mountain climbers.
Li Sun / Pexels

Exercise regularly

A regular exercise routine contributes to healthy weight maintenance, good heart health, and more. A 2014 study found that athletes had more variety of gut flora than nonathletes.

Dr. Samrat V. Jankar says, “Regular exercise is important for the maintenance of a healthy gut as it helps improve digestion and absorption of nutrients. Additionally, physical activity can help reduce stress levels which in turn can support better digestive health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every day, such as running or cycling, to keep your gut functioning well.

Brewing kombucha.
Tim-Oliver Metz/Unsplash

Consume probiotic-rich foods

Eating fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, homemade kimchi, and kombucha helps to support healthy gut organisms. “Consume probiotic-rich foods,” says Steven Mccarthy, the founder of “Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed. Sauerkraut, yogurt, and other fermented foods are excellent sources of probiotics.”

Editors' Recommendations

Christine VanDoren
Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her…
12 delicious foods high in vitamin E for skin, hair, and heart health
Vitamin E is crucial for good health: These are great ways to get your daily dose
Bottle of olive oil

Vitamin E is typically associated with skincare, but it does so much beyond nourishing your skin and hair. Vitamin E foods provide the body with powerful antioxidants that aid in reducing inflammation and destroying free radicals to protect your cells from oxidative damage.
Moreover, since vitamin E also plays several roles in supporting the immune system and protecting against diseases such as heart disease and cancer, deficiencies can make you more prone to illnesses, infections, and inflammatory diseases, as well as eyesight impairments and muscle weakness.
Since vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient, absorption increases in the presence of dietary fat. Therefore, when eating any food high in vitamin E that isn’t oil or fat itself, it’s best to pair the vitamin E food with another food that contains fat.
Fortunately, there are quite a few foods that contain at least some vitamin E, though the best dietary sources of vitamin E are high in alpha-tocopherol, the most bioactive form of the nutrient. To ensure you have the shiniest, full head of hair, supple and soft skin, and a formidable immune system, keep reading for a list of the foods highest in vitamin E.

How much vitamin E do you need?
The recommended daily value of vitamin E for individuals 14 years of age and older is 15 mg. You can generally get your daily dose of vitamin E through a balanced diet. Taking oral supplements is also available, but you should exercise caution when taking supplements. Excessive vitamin E can create side effects.
Where can you get vitamin E from?
The food groups rich in vitamin E include fats such as canola oil and olive oil. You can get vitamin E from nuts and seeds such as almonds and peanuts. Meat, dairy, leafy greens, and fortified cereals are other great sources of vitamin E.

Read more
Stay hydrated this summer: 5 foods with a surprisingly high water content
Discover the foods to add to your diet to stay hydrated
Mushrooms on a table.

The summer season is here, and we all know how hot and dehydrating it can get. While water is the go-to solution to dehydration, there are other ways to keep yourself well-hydrated — including eating hydrating foods. 

These foods with high water content will improve your hydration and provide essential nutrients to keep you cool and rejuvenated all summer. Not sure what foods to add to your grocery list? We've got you covered.

Read more
Study reveals another great reason to follow the Mediterranean diet (that has nothing to do with your health)
Get healthy and save some dough with the Mediterranean diet
Wood board with Mediterranean foods

For years now, it's been pretty widely accepted that the Mediterranean Diet is one of the healthiest diets one can adopt. Not only is this way of eating nearly limitless in its delicious possibilities, but it's fresh and beautiful, easy to stick to, and even allows wine and cheese (within reason). If you ask us, that last reason alone makes it, hands down, the best diet one can stick to.

And while we're at it, the word "diet," as it is currently used in society, isn't the prettiest label to slap on this way of eating. Sure, the word can refer simply to the food one eats, regardless of weight loss implications. But in our toxic diet-culture age, the very word has become one of the uglier four-letter-expletives — one the Mediterranean style of eating is far above. Even without the goal of lowering the number on the bathroom scale, the Mediterranean diet is both a beautifully delicious and healthful way to eat. And, it turns out, in addition to its sea of flavors, long list of health benefits, and bounty of delicious recipes, there's something more to love about this way of eating.

Read more