Looking for how to improve your gut health? Want the best gut-friendly recipes? Try our ideas below then check out our miso recipes, our sourdough recipes for a healthy gut, breakfasts for a healthy gut and high fibre foods. If you’re interested in learning more about gut health, check out our four-part podcast series on gut health.
What makes a recipe gut-friendly?
The truth is, the healthy bacteria in your gut, as well as your digestive system as a whole, require a steady supply of nutrients in order to thrive. As such, regularly eating a wide variety of whole, unprocessed foods is an important baseline for gut health. Some compounds play a unique role in promoting bacterial diversity and abundance though. These include fibre, especially prebiotics (your gut bacteria’s food of choice); polyphenols (plant-based micronutrients bursting with antioxidants) and probiotics (healthy bacteria).
If you’re experiencing persistent gut issues, speak to a professional who can help get things back into balance.
Best recipes for a healthy gut
Gut-friendly dinner: miso salmon
Shake up dinnertime with this salmon dish, flavoured with miso, rice vinegar and ginger. Miso is a Japanese seasoning made by fermenting beans with koji, a fungal culture. It’s rich in healthy probiotics and packed with minerals such as iron, calcium and phosphorus, as well as stress-busting B vitamins.
Gut-friendly smoothie: kefir, banana and frozen berry smoothie
This fruity kefir smoothie is full of beneficial probiotics, making it a great on-the-go, gut-friendly breakfast option. Kefir is a milk drink which has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria and yeasts to provide a natural source of probiotics. Don’t worry if your diet is dairy–free – you can use coconut or water-based kefir instead.
Gut-friendly breakfast: vegan overnight oats
These vegan overnight oats are a gut-healing marvel. Not only are oats a great source of prebiotic fibre, but apples contain a compound called pectin, which increase levels of a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. This feeds the beneficial gut bacteria and reduces the population of harmful strains. If that wasn’t enough, it’s topped with a generous dollop of probiotic-rich coconut yogurt, too.
Gut-friendly salad: crispy spud salad with sauerkraut, ham hock and peas
This sauerkraut salad is a gut-supportive go-to. Don’t worry if you can’t finish it all in one sitting – as potatoes cool, they become richer in resistant starch, which can help to improve blood sugar control by supporting healthy gut bacteria. Plus, as resistant starch is fermented slowly, it causes less gas then other fibres – great for those with a more sensitive gut.
Gut-friendly drink: kombucha
Gut-friendly brunch: miso chickpeas and avocado on toast
Liven up a storecupboard staple with this super-simple dish. Chickpeas are high in fibre, especially a soluble fibre called raffinose, which is broken down by beneficial gut bacteria to support regular bowel movements. Avocado offers a bunch of healthy nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and potassium to support digestion.
Gut-friendly vegetarian meal: kimchi baked tofu
A traditional Korean fermented food, kimchi adds more than just flavour to this tofu dish. It’s a natural source of probiotics and fibre, essentially the gut’s favourite things. Studies suggest that regularly eating kimchi has a positive effect on the gut, immune system, brain function and skin health.
Gut-friendly side dish: sweet potato miso mash
This moreish mash is a must for a healthy gut. Sweet potatoes contain both soluble and insoluble fibre which support digestive health. They are also loaded with beta-carotene, an antioxidant which can be converted to vitamin A in the body, playing an essential role in supporting gut-based immunity.
Gut-friendly condiment: cucumber kimchi
Whip up this quick and easy mini cucumber kimchi to access a source of natural probiotics. It’s packed with garlic, a natural anti-fungal to keep unhelpful bacteria at bay and maintain the balance of yeast in the gut. The fiery ginger also stimulates the digestive system by getting the stomach juices going.
Gut-friendly lunch: prawn and avocado salad with miso dressing
Try this salad for a lighter lunch or dinner – it’s loaded with greens, cucumber and radishes, which offer a variety of soluble and insoluble fibres to support bacterial diversity in your gut. Using miso in dressings is a great way of including this probiotic-rich fermented food in your diet.
Gut-friendly family meal: miso-buttered cod with greens
This nourishing miso fish recipe with broccoli and beans offers a light, umami-flavoured dinner. Protein can be a little challenging to digest, especially if your gut isn’t in the best of shape – eating it alongside fibre-rich greens promotes bacterial abundance to aid the process of digestion and absorption.
Gut-friendly condiment: red cabbage kimchi
Lacto-fermenting is an ancient way of preserving food. The term ‘lacto’ refers to the lactic acid created during the ferment. The process of fermenting increases both nutrient and probiotic levels. This red cabbage kimchi is great added to salads, sandwiches and toast.
Gut-friendly snack: confit garlic tomatoes on toast
This simple toast is a gut-friendly powerhouse. Tomatoes offer antioxidants such as lycopene and plant polyphenols, whilst garlic and thyme are natural antimicrobials to keep gut bacteria in balance. Plus, olive oil is rich in fatty acids and polyphenols, proven to reduce inflammation in the gut.
Gut-friendly vegetarian salad: broccoli, blue cheese and almond salad
This salad boasts broccoli and toasted almonds with a blue cheese and garlic dressing. Moderate portions of blue cheese offer beneficial probiotics, and almonds provide a prebiotic effect thanks to their high-fibre, fatty acid and polyphenol profile. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which can support a healthy balance in your gut and immune system – especially if inflamed.
Tracey Raye is the Health Editor for olive and BBC Good Food. Tracey, MSc, is a registered nutritionist, holding a master’s degree in Personalised Nutrition. She is passionate about harnessing the power of all things health and wellbeing – in a way that enhances, rather than limits our lives. She covers our nourishing recipes and collections, oversees our health strategy and stays adrift of the latest health and lifestyle trends – in order to bring you the tools and inspiration you need to find what health means for you.