Diet is one of the most important factors affecting the gut barrier. Certain dietary irritants have been shown to damage the gut barrier by opening the tight junctions between intestinal walls. In reverse, healthy diet supports the probiotic bacteria in the gut, which keep the harmful bacteria under control and protects the intestinal barrier.
Diet for healthy gut
Aside from possibly removing specific dietary irritants, you don’t need to go on a special diet to support your gut. The healthy eating guidelines outlined in the diet section get you most of the way.
The most important thing is to eat a variety of fiber sources to feed and support the probiotic bacteria. That’s where your 5 to 7 servings of fruits and vegetables come in.
There’s some evidence to show that eating too much fat can cause detrimental changes in the gut bacteria. But this only becomes an issue when you get a large chunk your calories from fat, say something like 60% or more. As long as you don’t go low carb, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Resistant starch (RS) is starch that’s resistant to the human digestive enzymes. It passed through the stomach and small intestine untouched and feeds the healthy bacteria in the large intestine. RS is an excellent prebiotic, and fermentation of RS in the gut results in a steady production of gut-healing butyrate and other short-chain fatty acids.
For dietary sources and cooking methods that create RS, please check the resistant starch page on the diet chapter.
In the what causes gut problems page, I went over several dietary factors linked to gut problems. Please review that page for details. The most important things to pay attention are:
- Crappy food diet, also known as the standard Western diet.
- Excess fructose, mainly from sweetened beverages and other processed foods.
- FODMAPs, rapidly fermented sugars found in many fruits and vegetables. Not a problem for everybody, but something you should look into if you think you have gut issues (here’s how to tell).
- Gluten and lectin, again not a problem for most people but a potential issue for some.
- Excess fat, not something you have to worry unless you eat a low-carb, high-fat diet.