The Perfect Diet to Complement Your Probiotics Regimen | 1MD Digestive

The Perfect Diet to Complement Your Probiotics Regimen

9 minute read


The phrase ‘follow your gut’ has much deeper meaning than just going with your instincts. Your gut also tells you how to stay healthy and guides your overall well-being, so it is a good idea to start listening to it.

Our gut sits at the center of our physical and mental health, and digestive issues can have far reaching effects. If you are looking to improve your immune health, digestive system and cognitive function, you should start by taking care of your gut.

| Related: Can Daily Probiotics Help With Irritable Bowel Syndrome? |

Sometimes it seems like the mission to get healthy is never ending. In truth, if you want to stay healthy you continuously need to take care of yourself. When it comes to fighting diseases we can get frustrated because it seems like we try everything and yet, the disease remains.

Since there is so much we cannot control, there is no point wasting our energy worrying about them. What you can do is focus on the aspects of your health that you can control. A number of serious illnesses stem from an unhealthy gut. Chronic issues like fatigue, colds, aches and pains, and mental fog are all linked to an unhappy digestive tract.

It may seem too simple of a fix, but once you start to focus on your digestive health not only do these chronic ailments disappear, but you become energized at levels you never knew you were capable of. Once you learn what your gut does and how it keeps your entire body healthy, you will have every chance of beating those pesky chronic health issues.


Inside Your Gut

Trillions of bacteria live inside your gut helping your body to process foods, produce nutrients and fight disease. What you eat and drink impacts the environment these bacteria rely on, so your diet plays an important role in your overall health.  

The balance of bacteria in your gut is critical. When you are in optimum shape your digestive tract will consist of 80 to 85% good bacteria. Energy will begin to flow consistently, you will be stronger and more nimble and feel great, plus you will get sick less often.  

If the pathogenic strains are allowed to take over then everything changes. Medications, like antibiotics, toxins from the environment, stress and illness all can change the bacterial environment, letting the bad bacteria proliferate.

Anything that depletes the quantity of your friendly flora, allows the bad ones to take hold of your system, causing inflammation and infection. What you can end up with is headache, constipation, diarrhea, allergies, depression, arthritis, and a whole host of autoimmune diseases.  

What you eat also impacts your digestive health. The gut is responsible for processing and either absorbing or eliminating everything you consume. Your gut bacteria is responsible for identifying all nutrients and helps to absorb them and is also identifies all toxins and moves to expel them as quickly as possible.

What you can do to help the selection process along is feed your body plant-based, nutrient-rich foods. You also should try your best to practice a healthy lifestyle consistently.  

Foods that are good for your gut include:

♦ Citrus fruit

♦ Foods rich in fiber

♦ Leafy greens

♦ Yellow vegetables

♦ Foods that contain probiotics like yogurt and sauerkraut

♦ Soothing foods such as mint, fennel, cinnamon, and ginger

♦ Oatmeal

♦ Nuts and seeds

♦ Avocado


The Gut and Mental Health Relationship

Have you ever heard anybody refer to the stomach as your second brain? It technically is true. Your central nervous system, which centers on the brain and spinal cord, is responsible for your voluntary and involuntary actions. Your central nervous system takes pretty good care of you.  

Now, for the second brain. Within the lining of your intestinal walls live millions of neurons that make up what is called the enteric nervous system. They control digestion and send important messages to the brain about the status of the gut.

| Related: Healthy Gut 101: What Are Probiotics |

A new field known as neurogastroenterology now studies the intricate relationship between these two nervous systems. The enteric system is capable of functioning alone but when stress or anxiety signals are released from the brain, it becomes affected. These messages can travel the other direction, too. An upset gut can send signals to the brain that cause mood and emotional changes.

The neurotransmitter serotonin that is responsible for mood, sleep, anxiety, and depression is actually made in the gut. The downside is that doctors are not asking about your digestive system when you have complaints about feeling fatigued or depressed.


The Gut and Immunity

It is time to introduce you to GALT because chances are you have not met. Your "gut-associated lymphoid tissue". This very thin tissue lives inside the wall of your intestines and is an integral part of your immune system. The GALT holds small specialized immune structures known as Peyer's patches and these contain immune cells.  

The B and T cells contained within have the job of identifying and neutralizing pathogenic cells. When Peyer's patches identify pathogens that have entered through your food intake, an immune response is triggered to prevent them from crossing the gut wall.

The friendly bacteria housed in your gut also help prevent disease. When the numbers of healthy bacteria are high, the pathogenic forms are not able to thrive. Your friendly flora is the only defense mechanism keeping the bad bacteria from getting into your bloodstream.

You want to promote the health and colonization of friendly bacteria so they can keep up the defenses. The best way to support them is through diet; either supplemental probiotics or natural food sources.


Take Care of Your Gut

In order for your gut to take care of you and the rest of your body, you need to give it the love it deserves. There are several things you can do to take care of your gut and ensure its optimal performance.

Probiotic supplements: These can help to boost the numbers of good bacteria in your gut. This is especially important if you've been taking medications because these can knock out good strains while trying to eliminate the bad ones. Abundant numbers of good bacteria will help to ease digestive problems, promote good digestion and nutrient absorption, and boost your immune system.

Probiotic whole foods: Foods that contain high numbers of probiotics or fermented foods are also good for your gut. Be sure to stay away from pasteurized or vinegar-based versions of the foods because these processes kill off the bacteria. Additionally you can make your own lacto-fermented probiotic foods.

| Related: Good-For-Your-Gut Yogurt From Scratch |

Prebiotic whole foods: There are certain foods that help to support the growth of good bacteria. These include whole plant-based foods high in fiber such as raw onions, garlic, artichokes, and bananas.

Regular eating schedule: The gut needs time to process foods and remove the waste or toxins and then it needs a good rest. Eating at two-hour intervals allows the gut a chance to refresh, so it can be more efficient. When you eat, your intestinal muscles are temporarily halted, so constantly snacking is going to slow down your digestive processes. This can give toxins a chance to build up before they can be eliminated. Space your meals evenly throughout the day and avoid eating late at night.

Hydration is critical: To stay hydrated it is recommended that you drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. Water is required in the gut to keep things moving and to prevent constipation and bloating. Being dehydrated can cause your intestinal flora to be thrown off balance which can lead to inflammation. The more water you drink, the more your gut will thank you.

Avoid processed and sugary foods: Processed foods or those high in refined sugar are basically an all-you-can-eat buffet for bad bacteria. The last thing you want is to give them fuel to grow strong and take over your gut.

Lower stress: When you experience stress, your brain triggers the fight-or-flight response. When this happens your digestive system and blood flow slow down. As a result, the elimination of waste and toxins from your gut also slows down. Find ways to cope with stress so it does not impact you so hard. Try yoga, meditation, therapy, spending time outdoors, or another enjoyable activity. If you are relaxed, your gut will relax and business will continue as planned.  


The Bottom Line

There is a lot you can do to keep your gut happy and healthy. Mixing a healthy lifestyle with probiotics and a good diet is the perfect recipe for a top performing digestive system. Remember the importance your gut has in the grander scheme of your health and take care of it. You never know when you will need it for some extra protection from a sneaky pathogen invasion.

Read Next >>> Strengthen Probiotics' Performance With a Workout Plan



  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425030/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303825/
  3. http://www.medlink.com/article/neurogastroenterology

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