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Dietitians Say These Are The 4 Worst Foods For Gut Health—They Slow Your Metabolism

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This article has been updated since its original publish date to include more expert insight.

Often not spoken of in correlation with weight loss, taking care of your gut health is actually essential for improving your overall wellness, eliminating bloatingand even speeding up your metabolism. Just as some foods, like fiber, can help to improve digestion and promote a balanced gut, other foods may have the inverse effect and cause discomfort, weight gain, and a decreased ability to burn through food as fuel.

In order to improve your overall health and reduce digestive issues that plagues the American diet, we spoke with registered dietitian Trista BestMPH, LR, RD from Balance One Supplements to determine the four foods you should keep to a minimum within your eating habits to feel great in your body and prioritize a healthy and functioning gut.

1. Breakfast Pastries

While an undeniably delicious breakfast option that can be consumed in moderation, breakfast pastries are often heavily processed and therefore not an ideal choice to include in your diet if you’re working to improve your gut health. Not to mention they’re rife with empty calories which will fail to keep you full and leave you more prone to mindless snacking throughout the day.

“This food is hard on the gut primarily due to the added and refined sugars used to create them. A diet high in this type of sugar promotes gut dysbiosis and imbalance of gut bacteria,” explains Best. “Added sugar refers to only those sugars that have been added to the product in the manufacturing process while total sugars refers to added and natural sugars. They are a source of food for bad gut bacteria which causes an imbalance and overgrowth of this bacteria and potentially Candida.”

If you find yourself craving something sweet in the mornings but don’t want to demolish your gut, consider swapping pastries for steel cut oats which you can sweeten with natural ingredients like honey, maple syrup, or peanut butter and are also a great way to include an extra serving of fruit in your diet which can naturally improve your digestion with the fiber content.

2. Fried Foods

Oil can be healthy when used in moderation, but fried foods are one example which is not advantageous to your gut health. “This category of food wreaks havoc on the entire gastrointestinal system. From reflux to unwanted changes in bowel movements, the fat and refined carbs from flour used to create these foods are harmful for gut health,” explains Best. Eating fried foods creates an environment for negative gut bacteria to thrive, so try swapping out these dishes for meals made on the grill or in the air fryer for a similar texture without the same negative impact on your stomach. Fried foods are also rich in refined flour which is low in nutrients and can lead to unwanted weight gain when consumed regularly.

3. Some ‘Diet’ Foods

It’s a common misconception that foods containing the word “diet” in the description are better for you than most, and in fact, these particular foods may be wreaking havoc on your gut health. “This category of foods are commonly made with artificial sweeteners in an attempt to lower the amount of calories and added sugar they contain. Unfortunately, while they may reduce calories in a food, that increases the likelihood of gut dysbiosis,” notes Best. Lacking nutritional benefit and potentially slowing digestion, “diet” foods are better swapped for whole ingredients and grains which can actually introduce some fiber into your gut without overloading your body with artificial sugar.

4. Processed Foods

Unsurprisingly, processed foods such as chips, white pasta, and desserts not only may cause weight gain due to their calorie content, but they also can have a prominent impact on your gut health as well. “These foods are harmful to your gut health because they lack the type of fiber that will improve gut health by feeding the good gut bacteria,” says Best. “These foods often replace fiber rich foods like fruit and vegetables and even full meals that would otherwise benefit gut health.” Swapping out processed foods for their more natural counterparts is the best option for improving your wellness, and stacking your plate with fruits, veggies, lean protein, and whole grain carbs will serve your body much better in the long term.

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