6 Worst Foods for Gut Health: What to Avoid for a Healthy Gut

We all have a microbiome, which is a collection of more than 100 trillion microbes that live in and inside the body. Most of these microbes live in the large intestine, and it has between 300 and 500 different strains of bacteria in the colon that help the intestine do its job. Eating certain foods can cause imbalances in the gut microbiome that increase inflammation throughout the body, leading to an increased risk of certain diseases or exacerbating existing conditions. To maintain a healthy gut, it is important to be aware of the worst foods for gut health and limit their intake.

Refined sugar is one of the worst offenders when it comes to gut health. Consuming too much sugar can cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome, leading to inflammation and an increased risk of disease. Artificial sweeteners are another major culprit of poor gut health. While they may seem like a healthier alternative to sugar, they can still cause imbalances in the gut microbiome.

Red meat is another food that can be detrimental to gut health. Cleveland Clinic recommends eating no more than one or two servings of red meat per week, or 6 ounces per week. People with heart disease or high cholesterol should limit their intake to 3 ounces per week. Staying hydrated is also essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system.

Drinking plenty of water can help keep your gut microbiome balanced and reduce inflammation throughout the body. Additionally, it is important to determine if you have any food allergies or sensitivities, as these can also affect your gut health. The effect of different foods on gut health depends on numerous factors, including a person's overall diet and food sensitivity. These foods “can also affect the pH of foods that pass through the gastrointestinal tract, reducing it and making it more acidic, which can damage the microbiome,” Hunnes says. To maintain a healthy gut, it is important to be mindful of what you eat and limit your intake of refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, red meat, and other inflammatory foods. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding processed snacks can help keep your gut healthy.