Boosting gut health also means boosting immune and brain health. This gut health-friendly breakfast is easy to prepare, rich in plant foods and versatile.
Reviewed by Dietitian Maria Laura Haddad-Garcia
According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 60 to 70 million Americans are affected by a digestive disease, such as chronic constipation, diverticular disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). That’s a big number, mainly because gut health impacts more than just your digestion. Research, including a 2022 review published in Gut, shows that the gut microbiome also impacts immune health. Furthermore, gut health is thought to be a key component in regulating brain processes and in mental health, per a 2021 article in Advances in Nutrition.
Eating a varied diet can help promote your gut health. Even if you don’t have a digestive disease, it’s worth considering your gut health when putting together meals because of the role gut health plays in overall health, says Deepak Vadada, M.D., a board-certified gastroenterologist, therapeutic endoscopist and advanced care physician.
Learn key nutrients gut experts recommend for a gut-health-friendly breakfast and our favorite gut-health-friendly breakfast recipe!
Related: 7-Day GERD Diet Meal Plan
What to Look for in a Gut-Health-Friendly Breakfast
First Off, Prioritize Eating Breakfast
First things first, eating something in the morning is important. Samina Qureshi RDN, LD, registered dietitian and founder of Wholesome Start, a virtual nutrition practice specializing in digestive health, says, “If you are someone who skips breakfast, you may want to think again. It’s an excellent opportunity to provide your body with fiber-rich foods that support long-term gut health and gets your digestive system moving!”
Plus, according to a 2023 study in Frontiers in Endocrinology skipping breakfast may be associated with an increased risk for prediabetes, especially for those with clinical obesity. While eating breakfast is associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, stroke and type 2 diabetes, per a 2021 review in Medicine.
Add a Source of Fiber
Fiber is one of the most important nutrients for not just gut health but for your overall health. For that reason, Quereshi recommends prioritizing fiber at breakfast. She says, “It can help you manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels, keep you full and satisfied, and support regular bowel habits.”
Incorporate Plant Foods
Not only are plant foods where fiber is found, but they also tend to be rich in prebiotics. Quereshi says, “The prebiotic fibers in plant-based foods support your gut health by providing nourishment to the probiotics (aka good bacteria) in your microbiome.” So plant foods—like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds—are a staple of gut health-friendly breakfasts.
The Best Breakfast for Better Gut Health
To boost your gut health, we recommend our Creamy Blueberry-Pecan Oatmeal. It has multiple gut health expert-recommended nutrients: fiber, prebiotics and probiotics. Plus, you can have it hot during cooler months or make a cold overnight oats version in the summer or when you’re short on time. Quereshi even says oats are one of her favorite gut-supporting ingredients!
This breakfast is also a great use of frozen produce, which can help reduce food waste and is usually more affordable than fresh ones. Added bonus: You can mix up the fruit topping based on your mood.
It’s High in Fiber
This breakfast boasts an impressive 6 grams of fiber per serving—18-24% of the recommended intake, per the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That’s thanks to a number of fiber-rich plant foods, including blueberries, oats and pecans. If you want more fiber, you can easily up the portions of these ingredients, which could also help promote greater satiety until lunchtime. Just be careful about upping your fiber intake too quickly; it can result in digestive upset if you go from zero to one hundred.
It Contains Probiotics
We love that the creaminess in this recipe comes from yogurt because it’s a probiotic-rich food. “Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt are beneficial as they can help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut,” says Vadada. For more creaminess and a bigger probiotic boost, consider upping the portion of yogurt. The beauty of this recipe is that you can easily adjust each ingredient’s amounts as you wish to cater to your taste preferences and dietary needs.
It’s Rich in Prebiotics
The plant foods in this oatmeal bowl are not just rich in fiber; they’re also a good source of prebiotics. That means this breakfast helps your gut bacteria get the nourishment they need to flourish and keep you feeling good.
It’s Super Versatile
One of the perks of this breakfast is that it’s easy to adjust based on your preferences and mood. You can swap the pecans for another type of nut or seed and add other types of fruit if you’re not in the mood for blueberries (or have another fruit handy). This is one of the benefits of oatmeal in general. “You can boost your morning with more delicious fiber-rich foods by adding chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, berries, or kiwi fruits to your oat-based breakfast,” says Quereshi.
The Bottom Line
Before you rush out of the house without grabbing a bite to eat, think again. Eating breakfast not only ensures you have the energy you need to start your day, but it’s also a great opportunity to get in gut health-boosting nutrients. Fiber, prebiotics and probiotics are essential for your gut health, so incorporating plant foods like fruits and seeds and probiotic-rich foods like yogurt or kefir in your breakfast can keep your digestive system happy and healthy. Our Creamy Blueberry-Pecan Oatmeal is a convenient way to get in all these key nutrients for gut health in one bowl! As Vadada says, “Remember, what’s good for the gut is often good for the rest of the body too.”
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