V is for…

Variety: This one concept is extremely important to a healthy gut. We can see the importance of variety in four types of foods that promote a healthy gut: probiotics, fermented foods, fibre and prebiotics.

·       Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed in ample amounts. Probiotics are found in yogurt, kefir and other fermented foods that specify probiotic  on the package.

·       Fermented foods may have probiotic activity based on the definition above, but not all do. Still, they are likely beneficial to gut health. Fermented foods include kombucha, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, yogurt, kefir and aged cheese, among others. Look for live bacterial culture on the package.

·       Fibre provides fuel for good gut bacteria, producing beneficial products. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and pulses (e.g., chickpeas and lentils) are packed with fibre.

·       Prebiotics are a type of fibre that is particularly beneficial to gut health. You can find them in a variety of foods, including berries, dried fruit, veggies, grains, oats, pulses and bananas.

Taken together, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and whole grains all play a role in supporting a healthy gut. By eating a variety of such foods, you fuel the variety of bacteria living in your gut (because there are many, many different kinds!).

Today’s trending diets

Now consider today’s trending diets – they all share one thing in common: they are based on elimination!

Take the keto diet, paleo diet or Whole30® – each works by restricting specific foods. This has two important consequences:

1.     Decreased variety, which is inevitable when eliminating whole categories of foods.

2.     Elimination of foods that have displayed benefits to the gut. Current trending diets tend to eliminate two important and nutritious types of foods: dairy and grains.  Wave goodbye to a swath of probiotic and prebiotic sources, fermented foods and fibre. Some diets further eliminate pulses, fruits and root vegetables (i.e., sources of fibre and prebiotics).

Individuals with limited diets due to food allergies and sensitivities are posed with the challenge of decreased variety but can still have healthy diets. It takes work and special attention above and beyond what is already required when following a restricted diet.

Before you consider trying a trending diet, consider the impact on your gut and, by extension, your immune system, digestive health, brain and day-to-day feeling of wellness. 

More information:

For more great information on gut health, visit:

·       Try This Trend: Eat for a Healthy Gut

·       Ignite Nutrition: The Role of Fermented Foods & Probiotics in Gut Health

·       Ignite Nutrition: How Prebiotics Help Gut Health

·       Canadian Probiotic Guide (also available as an app)


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Kristina Isaac, RD.

Registered Dietitian

Kristina (BSc, RD) is a registered dietitian and blogger for Nourish Move Thrive. She enjoys finding creative, fun and simple ways to communicate the science of nutrition.

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