The Best (and Worst) Foods for Gut Health

The Best (and Worst) Foods for Gut Health

Drinking SaladPower is one of the single, best things you can do for gut health, and here is why.

Though the gut microbiome was once so overlooked that it came to be known as the “forgotten organ,” its importance is now well-documented thanks to technological advances in microbiology and molecular biology.[1] An ever-expanding body of research now affirms that the gut microbiome plays a critical role in our health, aiding in everything from the metabolism of otherwise nondigestible foods to the proper functioning of the immune system.[2]

In this article, we examine the definition of the gut microbiome, and talk about some of the best (and worst) foods for gut health.

What is the ‘Gut Microbiome’?

The ‘gut microbiome’ refers, collectively, to the approximately 100 trillion microorganisms (comprised mostly of bacteria, but also including fungi, viruses, and protozoa) found in the human gastrointestinal tract.[3]

According to a number of studies, when these microorganisms, also referred to as ‘gut flora,’ are diverse, the gut ecosystem is better-equipped to respond to environmental health risks.[4] Indeed, research suggests that diverse gut flora help combat inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, liver disease, and even depression and anxiety.[5]

With this in mind, you may be curious how to increase gut flora diversity and improve overall gut health, so let’s turn to some of the best foods for the gut microbiome.

Best Foods for Gut Health

Leafy Green Vegetables

A 2023 study yielded evidence that microbes from vegetables can be found in the human gut and aid in the diversity of the gut microbiome.[6] This study matched microbes from spinach, among other fruits and vegetables, to microbes found in gut flora. Other studies indicate that leafy greens contribute to overall gut health by providing a specific type of sugar (sulfoquinovose) that facilitates the growth of healthy bacteria.[7] [8] This adds to the long list of health benefits associated with kale and spinach, two leafy greens packed into every delicious pouch of SaladPower organic smoothies.


Broccoli is another one of our favorites when it comes to gut health, and not just because it is a key ingredient in SaladPower. Research indicates that the high fiber content in broccoli promotes a healthy digestive system by modulating bowel movements and contributing to a healthy gut microbiome.[9] The fiber is also filling, which helps individuals manage their weight, in addition to promoting healthy metabolism, reducing inflammation, and maintaining heart health.


In a 2018 study, researchers examined the effects of garlic on gut microbiota, finding marked increases in microbial richness and diversity.[10] The same study noted that garlic may reduce inflammation and promote cardiovascular health in a variety of ways.

Garlic also contains prebiotics, which are widely credited with the proliferation of healthy gut bacteria.[11] Other prebiotic-rich foods beneficial to gut health include green vegetables, such as those contained in SaladPower, as well as bananas, tomatoes, asparagus, whole grains, and berries.


No list of foods beneficial to gut health would be complete without mentioning probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt. A 2013 study indicated that probiotics restore microbial communities in the gut and play a critical role in suppressing harmful pathogens that could lead to infection if left unchecked.[12] [13]

Other fermented foods associated with probiotics beneficial to gut health include kimchi, kombucha, and kefir.[14]

Factors Harmful to Gut Health

Just as the foods listed above promote gut health, there are a number of foods that cause gut health to deteriorate. Fried foods, animal protein, and foods containing antibiotics have all been associated with poor gut health.[15]

And if you are serious about taking care of your gut microbiome, consider taking other actions associated with improving the health of your digestive tract, such as quitting smoking, reducing psychological stressors, maintaining proper sleep habits, and exercising regularly.[16]

Lastly, we would like to emphasize that eating less artificial sweeteners and sticking to a vegetarian diet are both linked to healthy guts.[17] [18]

By consuming SaladPower organic smoothies, you are simultaneously taking a number of measures to improve your gut health, as our vegetarian-friendly products contain some of the best foods for gut health in the world, without any added sugars or sweeteners!


[1] Quigley E. M. (2013). Gut bacteria in health and disease. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 9(9), 560–569.

[2] Bull, M. J., & Plummer, N. T. (2014). Part 1: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 13(6), 17–22.

[3] Valdes, A. M., Walter, J., Segal, E., & Spector, T. D. (2018). Role of the Gut Microbiota in Nutrition and Health. BMJ, 361(361), k2179.

[4] Sommer, F., Anderson, J. M., Bharti, R., Raes, J., & Rosenstiel, P. (2017). The resilience of the intestinal microbiota influences health and disease. Nature reviews. Microbiology, 15(10), 630–638.

[5] The worst foods for gut health. (2019, September 5).

[6] Wisnu Adi Wicaksono, Tomislav Cernava, Wassermann, B., Abdelfattah, A., Soto-Girón, M. J., Toledo, G., S Virtanen, Mikael Knip, Heikki Hyöty, & Berg, G. (2023). The edible plant microbiome: evidence for the occurrence of fruit and vegetable bacteria in the human gut. Gut Microbes, 15(2).

[7] Lee, L. (2019). 5 Foods to Improve Your Digestion. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library.

[8] Speciale, G., Jin, Y., Davies, G. J., Williams, S. J., & Goddard-Borger, E. D. (2016). YihQ is a sulfoquinovosidase that cleaves sulfoquinovosyl diacylglyceride sulfolipids. Nature Chemical Biology, 12(4), 215–217.

[9] Syed, R. U., Moni, S. S., Break, M. K. B., Khojali, W. M. A., Jafar, M., Alshammari, M. D., Abdelsalam, K., Taymour, S., Alreshidi, K. S. M., Elhassan Taha, M. M., & Mohan, S. (2023). Broccoli: A Multi-Faceted Vegetable for Health: An In-Depth Review of Its Nutritional Attributes, Antimicrobial Abilities, and Anti-inflammatory Properties. Antibiotics (Basel, Switzerland), 12(7), 1157.

[10] Ried, K., Travica, N., & Sali, A. (2018). The Effect of Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract on Gut Microbiota, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Markers in Hypertensives: The GarGIC Trial. Frontiers in nutrition, 5, 122.

[11] Markowiak, P., & Śliżewska, K. (2017). Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients, 9(9), 1021.

[12] Hemarajata, P., & Versalovic, J. (2013). Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology, 6(1), 39–51.

[13] Markowiak, P., & Śliżewska, K. (2017). Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients, 9(9), 1021.

[14] Weaver, B. J. (2021, July 12). A fermented-food diet increases microbiome diversity and lowers inflammation, Stanford study finds. News Center.

[15] The worst foods for gut health. (2019, September 5).

[16] 10 research-backed ways to improve gut health. (2019, May 28).

[17] Suez, J., Korem, T., Zeevi, D., Zilberman-Schapira, G., Thaiss, C. A., Maza, O., Israeli, D., Zmora, N., Gilad, S., Weinberger, A., Kuperman, Y., Harmelin, A., Kolodkin-Gal, I., Shapiro, H., Halpern, Z., Segal, E., & Elinav, E. (2014). Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature, 514(7521), 181–186.

[18] David, L. A., Maurice, C. F., Carmody, R. N., Gootenberg, D. B., Button, J. E., Wolfe, B. E., Ling, A. V., Devlin, A. S., Varma, Y., Fischbach, M. A., Biddinger, S. B., Dutton, R. J., & Turnbaugh, P. J. (2014). Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature, 505(7484), 559–563.

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