- Women experience unique digestive issues because of hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
- Gut health supports several health benefits, including immune health, mood, and energy.
- A good gut health diet includes foods rich in probiotics, prebiotics, and fiber.
Ladies—are you eating for your gut’s best interests?
Around 100 million women struggle with gut health issues because of unique experiences such as pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation, which cause varying digestive problems due to fluctuating hormones.1
If you want to support your gut health at any stage, it starts with what you put (and don’t put) on your plate daily. Knowing the best and worst foods for the gut helps improve your health and overall well-being.
Read on to learn our top gut-healthy foods and what probiotic supplements you should add to your routine!
Why is gut health important?
Your gut health is like the foundation of a house—it needs to be balanced for the rest of the structure to stay strong. In your body, the gut is a complex ecosystem of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which includes the stomach, small intestines, and large intestines (colon).
While you may be familiar with the gut’s role in digestion, a healthy gut affects more vital bodily functions. It supports stress, mood, brain health, and immune health (70% of your immune system is housed in your gut!)2
Women’s gut health
Women experience unique digestive experiences compared to men, which has a lot to do with shifting hormones (estrogen and progesterone) throughout the menstrual cycle. The receptors in the line of the gut are sensitive to these fluctuating hormones. One study showed that over two-thirds of women experience at least one gut-related symptom close to or during their period.3
Women’s gut health can also be influenced by female-specific life events such as pregnancy and menopause. For example, constipation is common in postmenopausal women because of declining estrogen and progesterone levels.4
An unhealthy diet only exacerbates digestive health issues you may be experiencing as a woman. Taking care of your gut health starts by maintaining a diverse gut microbiome, which begins with the foods you eat!
The best foods for gut health
The gut is home to trillions of bacteria. The more diverse the bacteria, the healthier your gut.5 A diet consisting of probiotic foods is a great way to make sure you’re feeding your gut microbiome with plenty of bacteria that benefits your health.
Top 5 probiotic foods
|Yogurt||Ensure you’re choosing yogurt with active or live cultures. Yogurt is mainly fermented by lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria.|
|Sauerkraut||This finely shredded cabbage is fermented by lactic acid bacteria and is also rich in fiber and vitamins C and K.|
|Kimchi||One of Korea’s staple spicy cabbage side dishes contains the lactic acid bacteria, lactobacillus kimchii, vitamins K and B2.|
|Tempeh||This fermented soybean patty is not only a great high-protein meat substitute, but it’s also rich in vitamin B12.|
|Pickles||Pickled cucumbers that have been preserved in salt and water ferment using their own lactic acid bacteria.|
Is kombucha good for gut health?
Kombucha has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and one reason is its claims to be beneficial for your gut. Thankfully, it’s as good for your gut as it says it is! Not only does kombucha contain probiotics, but it’s also a good source of antioxidants.6
If you’re having difficulties with bowel movements, chances are you’re not getting enough fiber in your diet.7 That’s because fiber helps increase the size of your stool and keeps it soft to support regularity.
Fiber is an important (but often missing) part of a gut-healthy diet. 95% of Americans aren’t getting enough fiber in their diet. The recommended amount of dietary fiber intake should be around 25 to 30 grams a day.8 You can add more fiber to your day by incorporating more of the following foods into your grocery list.
Top 5 high-fiber foods
|Beans||While all beans are rich in fiber, garbanzo, kidney, lima, or pinto beans have some of the highest fiber content.|
|Broccoli||This tasty green vegetable is not only high in fiber, but it’s also high in protein (compared to other veggies), iron, manganese, B-vitamins, and vitamin C.|
|Fruits/Berries||Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, and bananas are all rich in fiber and several other key vitamins and minerals.|
|Avocados||Avocados are good with almost anything and are very high in many B-vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.|
|Oats||This breakfast staple is high in beta-glucan fiber (linked to beneficial gut bacteria)9, vitamins, and antioxidants.|
Always consult your healthcare practitioner or nutritionist on what is best to include in your diet.
The worst foods for gut health
1. Artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners added to food and beverages may taste sweet to your taste buds, but they aren’t friends with your gut. Some artificial sweeteners may change the bacteria in your gut. They can lead to an imbalanced gut or harm good gut bacteria colonies.10 Always double-check the ingredients listed on your food products to confirm if there are no artificial sweeteners. Common artificial sweeteners include sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame.
2. Processed foods
Overeating processed foods like frozen entrees, white bread, fast food, and most canned veggies can hurt your gut microbiome. Because processed foods are low in fiber and filled with extra sugar and preservatives, healthy bacteria are less likely to grow.11
3. Fried food
Fried food isn’t the best option for your overall health, but it’s also not doing any good for your gut. The hot oil used for deep frying can slow the growth of healthy bacteria and cause an upset stomach.12
When it comes to alcohol, moderation is key. Drinking too much alcohol can reduce the number and variety of healthy bacteria, leading to an imbalanced gut.13
Always consult your healthcare practitioner or nutritionist on what is best to include in your diet.
The best drinks for gut health
Easy gut health smoothie
Whether you want a healthy, filling breakfast or a post-workout snack, a well-balanced smoothie should include the following:
- Liquid base (ex. milk, orange juice, water)
- Fruits and veggies (ex. bananas, apples, kale)
- Protein (ex. greek yogurt, nut butter, hemp seeds, protein powder)
- Fiber (ex. oats, chia seeds, flax seeds)
- Healthy fats (ex. avocado, nut butter, hemp hearts)
Bone broth for gut health
Bone broth has recently been in the spotlight as a popular health drink, but it’s been commonly used in soups, sauces, and gravies for years. It’s a savory liquid used by simmering animal bones, connective tissues, and meat scraps. Bone broth has a reputation for being nutritious because animal bones are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.14 Bone broth is also very rich in gelatin, which helps to improve the lining of your digestive tract.15
Best probiotics for women’s gut health
When you take one of Solgar®’s probiotics, you do more than a solid favor for your gut. Introducing clinically-studied strains of good bacteria into your microbiome can support everything from immune health to sleep to bone density.
WOMEN’S COMPLETE PROBIOTIC
This formulation includes strains that offer vaginal support, reduce perceived stress and exhaustion when mildly or moderately stressed, and support bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.* It’s made with 8 clinically-studied strains and 30 Billion CFU guaranteed.
ADVANCED DAILY SUPPORT PROBIOTIC
Our advanced daily formula helps with occasional digestive concerns including regurgitation, abdominal discomfort, gurgling, constipation, irregular bowel movements, and gas.* It also promotes immune health in physically active adults.* This probiotic is formulated with 5 clinically-studied strains and 30 Billion CFU guaranteed.
ADVANCED SLEEP SUPPORT PROBIOTIC
If you’re seeking digestive support and restful sleep and recovery, this probiotic is for you.* It’s clinically shown to reduce perceived stress and exhaustion when mildly or moderately stressed and recover lost sleep while highly stressed.* Each serving is formulated with 5 clinically-studied strains, GABA, melatonin, and 30 Billion CFU guaranteed.
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT PROBIOTIC
Our Weight Management Probiotic contains the stomach-friendly form of capsicum extract (from red chili peppers), which helps kick-start the body’s natural production of energy (the metabolism).* Each serving also supports occasional digestive concerns including regurgitation, abdominal discomfort, gurgling, constipation, irregular bowel movements, and gas.* It’s also formulated with 30 Billion CFU guaranteed and 6 clinically-studied strains with Capsimax®.
ADVANCED BOWEL SUPPORT PROBIOTIC
This advanced probiotic provides relief from occasional gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort.* It also supports occasional travel-related diarrhea and is clinically shown to reduce perceived stress and exhaustion when mildly or moderately stressed and recover lost sleep while highly stressed.* It also promotes immune health in physically active adults.* Each serving contains 5 clinically-studied strains and 30 Billion CFU guaranteed.
Best digestive enzymes for women
COMFORT ZONE DIGESTIVE COMPLEX VEGETABLE CAPSULES
With 11 plant- and fermentation-based enzymes, Solgar® Comfort Zone encourages more thorough and efficient digestion to help you get the nutrients you need from what you eat.* It also includes a herbal blend made of cumin, fennel, chamomile, ginger, and anise. Solgar® Comfort Zone also helps the body process foods that are difficult to digest so that you can worry less about enjoying your favorite meals.*
PROBI® PLUS ENZYME CAPSULES
Probi® Plus combines the power of probiotics and digestive enzymes to increase the good bacteria in your gut and help break down food for energy, cellular growth, and other vital functions.* This formulation contains 20 billion colony-forming units (CFU) with three fermentation-based enzymes to promote optimal gut health.* It also contains the well-studied LP299v® probiotic strain, which has been clinically shown to help reduce abdominal discomfort associated with occasional gas and bloating.*
The best way to improve your gut health
The bacteria in your gut impact many aspects of your health and wellbeing. A healthy diet rich in foods with probiotics, prebiotics, and fiber is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy gut.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Solgar® site.