Bacteria and other microbes in the gut help the body digest food. These bacteria may also play an important role in helping the body fight harmful bacteria, yeast, and other microbes. Foods that promote gut health can feed good bacteria or add more helpful bacteria to the gut. Less healthful foods may promote gastrointestinal problems or damage gut bacteria. Here are the top 10 worst foods for gut health you should avoid.
Top 10 Worst Foods For Gut Health
1. Red Meat
Red meat can trigger the growth of gut bacteria that lead to clogged arteries. Stick to lean protein sources such as fish or plant protein like beans and tofu. If you can’t give up beef, pork, and lamb completely, choose leaner cuts with names that include round, loin, or sirloin.
2. Fried Foods
Fried foods are already on the not-good-for-you list. It hasn’t been proven in humans yet, but studies on rats shows that heated oil, which soaks into the fried foods, can damage healthy gut bacteria.
3. Foods With Antibiotics
Antibiotics can’t tell the difference between “good” and “bad” bacteria, so they kill them all. Often, farmers treat animals with antibiotics to keep them from getting infections. If you eat these animal products, you can kill the healthy bacteria in your gut. And because some bacteria become antibiotic resistant over time, meaning the drugs no longer affect it, you might end up with a hard-to-kill superbug.
Alcohol, especially if you’re a heavy drinker, can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut and help bad bacteria grow. Moderation is key.
Coffee, soda, and even too much chocolate can up the caffeine in your body, which ramps up your intestines. This excitement in your digestive system often causes diarrhea.
Onions are chock-full of inulin, fructans and fructooligosaccharides. Not only are FOSs a prebiotic that help build up gut flora, they also help lower cholesterol and relieve constipation.
Onions are highly versatile: add to soup or salad, grill and put on top of a turkey burger, or roast with herbs and serve as a side.
7. Diet soda
The true impact of artificial sweeteners isn’t completely known, but some studies have shown that artificial sweeteners like saccharin and sucralose, which are used in some diet sodas, can change people’s gut microbiota population. The carbonation in soda also can cause bloating and belching.
8. Saturated fats
A diet high in saturated fats (those found in fatty meat, butter, and cheese) can affect both the diversity and abundance of your good gut bacteria.
Some people are going to be more sensitive to dairy products than others. But research has shown that a diet rich in dairy products has significant effects on your gut microbiome, and it only takes a few days of increased dairy for those changes to take place.
You would think that soy would be one of the healthier foods. After all, so many of the foods we consider to be healthy are made with it, and it’s an incredibly common substitute for meat. But here’s the thing—while soy that’s made in very traditional ways can be healthy, most of the soy we consume today is genetically modified and processed in ways that makes it less-than-ideal for our bodies. Studies have shown that a diet high in soy products can have rapid, large-scale negative effects on gut bacteria, particularly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, two strains of bacteria that are incredibly important for microbial health.
No single food is a magic key to good gut health. Some fermented foods, which are often popular probiotic choices, may actually worsen gut health in people on low FODMAP diets.
Other foods, such as red meat and fried foods, may be the worst foods for gut health you should avoid or reduce.
People hoping to improve gut health can talk to their doctor or dietitian about their specific gut health goals. A trial-and-error approach often produces the best results.