Medically reviewed by Barbie Cervoni, MS, RD, CDCES, CDN
The foods that fuel your body have a profound impact on your overall health, including the health of your gut.
While an eating pattern high in ultra-processed foods and added sugar can lead to negative changes in gut bacteria and increase your risk for developing digestive conditions, such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a diet rich in health-promoting foods can protect and support the gut.
Though a number of foods, including fruits, vegetables, and legumes, can help promote optimal digestive health, certain foods—and drinks—are especially rich in gut-supportive nutrients and can be easily consumed as quick and nutritious snacks.
Here are 15 snacks for a healthy gut.
Nuts, like pistachios, make an excellent snack choice because they’re shelf-stable, portable, and can be paired with sweet and savory ingredients. Pistachios are rich in fiber, containing 10% insoluble fiber and 0.3% soluble fiber by weight. Studies show that the fiber found in pistachios may promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), like butyrate.
SCFAs are compounds that help keep the gut healthy by fueling the cells lining the large intestine, maintaining the integrity of the intestinal barrier, and regulating inflammation in the digestive tract.
Try pairing pistachios with other fiber-rich foods, like apples or raisins, for a filling and gut-friendly snack.
2. Kefir Smoothie
Kefir is a fermented yogurt drink that has powerful gut-supportive properties. Kefir is rich in probiotic microorganisms, like lactic acid bacteria (LAB), which may help improve digestive health.
Studies show that drinking kefir can benefit gut health in several ways, such as through lowering markers of intestinal inflammation, increasing SCFA production, and supporting the growth and function of beneficial bacteria. What’s more, study findings suggest that a diet rich in fermented foods may help protect against gut dysbiosis, which is a term that refers to an imbalance between gut bacteria, such as an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria.
Kefir can be used as a base for smoothies, which can be made with other nutritious foods known to support digestion, like frozen berries and flax seeds.
3. Avocado Toast
To keep your gut healthy, it’s recommended that adults consume 28 grams (g) of fiber per day. Avocados are a rich source of fiber, providing 9.25 g per 136-gram avocado (about one medium avocado), and can help you meet your daily needs for this important nutrient.
Eating avocados regularly has been shown to improve gut health by increasing SCFA production and the abundance of beneficial bacteria that reside in the digestive tract. A 2021 study in 163 adults found that participants who consumed between 140 to 175 g of avocado (about one medium avocado) for 12 weeks experienced increased bacterial diversity, greater abundance of the SCFA-producing bacteria Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, and Alistipes, and lower fecal bile acid concentrations compared to a control group.
For a gut-healthy snack, top whole-grain, gluten-free, or sourdough toast with mashed avocado and sprinkle the top with fresh herbs.
4. Apple and Peanut Butter
Apples are a good source of fiber. One medium 182-gram apple with its skin provides 4.37 g of fiber.
Apples contain a type of soluble fiber called pectin, which may help support gut health by promoting the growth of anti-inflammatory microorganisms, such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii bacteria, and improving the gut barrier function. The gut barrier, or the intestinal mucosal barrier, allows for the absorption of nutrients and water while protecting your body from pathogens and toxic substances.
While apples are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protective plant compounds, they’re low in protein and healthy fats. Pairing apples with protein- and fat-rich peanut butter makes a more satiating snack choice.
5. Overnight Oats
Though oats are most commonly consumed at breakfast time, they can be enjoyed as a hearty snack any time of day.
Oats are an excellent source of gut-promoting nutrients, like fiber. Oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which is readily fermented by bacteria in the large intestine. This fermentation process produces SCFAs that benefit gut health in many ways.
Oat consumption has also been shown to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species in healthy people, as well as in those with gut conditions such as celiac disease.
Overnight oats can be made in bulk so that you can always have a gut-friendly snack on hand. Plus, overnight oats can be made with other ingredients that help support digestive health, like fruit, seeds, and nuts.
6. Chia Pudding
Chia seeds are packed with nutrients that may help improve your gut health. Just one ounce of chia seeds provides an impressive 9.75 g of fiber, which covers over one-third of your daily fiber needs. They’re also rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, like polyphenols, which may help regulate intestinal inflammation and promote a healthy gut environment.
Chia seeds are also a good source of zinc, a mineral that tends to be low in people with digestive diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Chia pudding is easy to whip up and makes a healthy choice when you’re in the mood for a sweet yet healthy snack.
7. Greek Yogurt
Regularly consuming foods and drinks naturally high in probiotics is a smart way to care for your gut.
Yogurt contains live bacteria, such as S. thermophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis , that can be incorporated into the gut bacteria community where they can promote a healthy gut environment.
In addition to supporting the gut, yogurt provides a number of nutrients that are good for overall health, including calcium, magnesium, and protein. A 7-ounce serving of low-fat, plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt provides 20 g of filling protein, making Greek yogurt a satisfying snack option.
8. Berries and Cottage Cheese
Berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory plant compounds that positively impact gut health.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds found in berries may influence gut health by reducing levels of pro-inflammatory proteins and protecting against cellular damage.
Berry intake has also been shown to protect against cancers of the digestive tract, including colon cancer and stomach cancer.
Berries can add additional nutritional benefits to protein-rich snacks, such as cottage cheese, which is a fermented dairy food that contains probiotics.
9. Hummus and Veggie Sticks
Bean-rich diets can help promote a healthy gut environment by encouraging regular and comfortable bowel movements and supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Research suggests that adding more beans to your diet could be an effective way to reduce your risk of digestive conditions like colorectal cancer. A 2022 review that included 29 studies on legumes found that every 100-gram (about half a cup) serving per day increment of legume consumption was associated with a 21% lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Hummus is a creamy dip made from chickpeas, a type of bean that’s high in fiber and plant-based protein. Hummus can be paired with sliced vegetables for a light, yet filling gut-friendly snack.
10. Green Salad with Salmon
Leafy greens, like arugula, kale, and spinach, are loaded with gut-supportive nutrients, such as fiber and carotenoid plant pigments. Carotenoids have potent antioxidant activities and promote gut health by supporting gut barrier function and reducing pro-inflammatory compounds.
Topping salad with a healthy protein source, like canned salmon, increases the satiety factor of the dish while providing gut-supportive nutrients, such as omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats may help reduce inflammatory compounds in the gut while encouraging the growth of probiotic bacteria.
11. Collagen Matcha Latte
If you’re in the mood for a gut-soothing beverage, try making a collagen matcha latte. Collagen is a type of protein that can be mixed into both hot and cold beverages. Studies show that supplementing with collagen may help support the health of the gut barrier and may reduce common digestive symptoms, such as bloating, when consumed on a regular basis.
A 2022 study of 40 women found that 93% experienced a reduction in digestive symptoms, including bloating when supplementing daily with 20 g of collagen for eight weeks.
Matcha is a concentrated green tea powder that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and may help improve gut dysbiosis in some people.
Whip up a matcha latte using matcha, collagen, and milk of your choice for a tasty, gut-friendly drink.
12. Dark Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Though consuming too much added sugar from sweets like candy and sugary drinks could harm the health of your gut, some sweet treats, like dark chocolate-covered strawberries, can benefit your digestive health.
Strawberries are rich in fiber and anti-inflammatory compounds known to have positive effects on the gut. Dark chocolate also provides gut health-promoting substances, including prebiotics, which help fuel friendly bacteria in the digestive system.
A 2022 study that included 48 people found that the participants who consumed 30 g of 85% dark chocolate daily for three weeks experienced significant increases in gut bacteria diversity and reported better mood, which the researchers attributed to the chocolate’s ability to act on the gut-brain axis—a signaling pathway between the digestive tract and the central nervous system.
13. Lupini Beans
Lupini or lupin beans have recently become a popular snack in the U.S., and for good reason. Thanks to their high protein and fiber content, lupini beans make a filling snack choice that can satisfy your salty cravings in a healthy way.
A 50-gram serving of lupini beans provides 7 g of protein and fiber, both of which can help keep you feeling satisfied between meals. Their high fiber content is beneficial for gut health and may help encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria, including SCFA-producing bacteria. Lupini beans can be enjoyed on their own as a quick snack or can be added to salads, soups, and other snack dishes to boost their nutritional value.
If you frequently experience constipation, snacking on kiwis may help support healthy bowel movements. The fiber found in kiwi helps retain water in the digestive tract, which may help improve stool consistency and support the movement of stool through the gut.
A 2020 study of 79 people with chronic constipation found that eating two kiwis per day for four weeks helped decrease straining and improve stool consistency and frequency. What’s more, the researchers noted that the kiwi treatment resulted in fewer adverse side effects compared to treatment with prunes or psyllium husk.
Kiwis have also been shown to promote restful sleep, so they can be enjoyed as an after-dinner, gut-healthy snack.
15. Roasted Edamame
For a savory snack option that’s satisfying and good for the gut, try snacking on roasted edamame. Edamame is packed with protein and fiber, providing 18.4 and 8 g per cup, respectively.
Plant proteins, like edamame, help support the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut. For example, soy proteins, like edamame, contain essential amino acids that encourage the growth of probiotic microorganisms, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria bacteria.
What’s more, research shows that choosing plant-based proteins over animal-based proteins could help lower the risk of cancers of the digestive tract, including colorectal cancer.
To make a snack that supports the health of your gut, coat edamame with olive oil and sea salt and roast it at 375℉ for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
A Quick Review
Nourishing your gut is key to keeping your body healthy and reducing your risk of common conditions, such as IBS and colorectal cancer.
In addition to fueling up with nutritious meals, incorporating gut-healthy snacks into your diet is an easy way to support the health of your digestive system.
Gut-healthy snacks can be made from affordable, nutritious ingredients like beans, fresh fruit, nuts, and unsweetened dairy products like Greek yogurt. Try incorporating the snacks listed above into your diet for a delicious and easy way to care for your gut.
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