Gut health is central to every aspect of your well-being (including your skin!). A delicate balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria is essential to absorbing all the nutrients your body needs to function at its best. And since breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, this is the perfect time to focus on eating gut-healthy foods.
Below, you’ll find a list of seven of the best foods to eat for breakfast for bacterial balance and better digestion. Some foods on the following list may not sound like standard breakfast fare. But they’re easy to incorporate into your morning meal and still feel like breakfast. Rethinking some of your breakfast choices will also help you get out of a rut if you’re bored with the same old, same old.
Try adding these seven foods to your morning grub for a healthy boost to your digestive system.
It’s well-known that dark leafy greens are densely packed with vitamins and minerals. But greens like spinach and kale are also rich in gut-loving fiber. Fiber helps clear out your digestive system of waste so everything can run smoothly.
In addition to fiber and plenty of vitamins C, K, and B complex, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and chlorophyll, greens contain substances called prebiotics, which provide food for the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Bacteria break down prebiotics into other beneficial substances, like short-chain fatty acids, that help your body control inflammation and immunity.
One of the best ways to incorporate greens into breakfast is to add them to a smoothie. Green smoothies are a common and delicious way to load up on energy and nutrition at the start of the day. You can add them to an omelet, scrambled eggs, or any other egg dish.
Oats are not an uncommon breakfast food, and they’re one of the best for gut health. That’s because oats are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Most of the fiber in oats is in the form of beta-glucan, a soluble form that helps slow digestion and increase fullness.
Besides fiber, oats are also chock full of what’s known as resistant starch. Resistant starch is similar to fiber and helps support the good bacteria in your gut, especially in your colon. This type of starch isn’t found in many other common grains.
Oatmeal is the most obvious choice for eating oats. Of the three varieties of oats – rolled, steel-cut, and quick cooking – the main difference is their glycemic index. Quick-cooking oats have the highest glycemic effect, so it’s best to stick with rolled or steel-cut if you're concerned about blood sugar.
Another fantastic idea is to make oat pancakes! Check out this easy oat pancake recipe you can make with just a few ingredients and your blender.
- A note about oats: They’re generally gluten-free unless they’re made in a facility that processes grains with gluten. Plus, they have a similar protein to gluten that may cause distress.
Yogurt is made by a process of milk fermentation using specific strains of bacteria. The end product is smooth and creamy and full of healthy probiotics for your gut. But yogurt comes in many varieties, so it’s good to know what to look for to get the most nutrition.
First, read the label and make sure your yogurt contains live active probiotic cultures. Not all of them do. Then, look at the nutrition label to determine how much sugar it contains. Watch out for the low- or non-fat versions because these tend to have more sugar to make up for having less fat. The more natural the ingredients, the better, too.
Greek yogurt is higher in protein than other types, which is perfect for a more balanced breakfast. Consider buying organic plain yogurt with no added flavor and then decking it out yourself with all your favorite fruit, nuts or seeds. It’s like a tasty blank canvas!
When you think of breakfast fruits, avocado probably isn’t the first one to come to mind. But with the rise in popularity of avocado toast, it’s not such a stretch anymore. Avocado is known mainly as a fabulous source of thick and creamy monounsaturated fat (which is the best kind!). But did you know that one avocado also has about 10-14 grams of fiber? All that tough fiber makes your gut bacteria happy and healthy.
An added bonus with avocado is that it’s low in fructose compared to other fruits, which also helps with digestion and blood sugar levels. If you haven’t boarded the avocado toast train yet, give it a try. Add an egg on top for a filling breakfast treat. Pair it with a high fiber bread for an extra gut boost!
Or slice some avocado up and add it to your omelet. You can also add some to a smoothie for the creamiest of morning treats.
(Read more about the mighty avocado here!)
5. Green bananas
Bananas are yellow…or are they? They don’t have to be, and it might even be better if they’re not quite yellow yet. That's because unripe green bananas may have a more impressive nutrient profile than yellow ones and contain less sugar.
Green bananas are also higher in fiber than fully ripe bananas and contain resistant starch and pectin, similar to prebiotic fiber. And they don’t need to be completely green to get the good stuff. Partially green bananas are still great for your gut.
How do you eat green bananas for breakfast? You could boil them or fry them or add them to a smoothie. Or you could try a Caribbean-inspired green banana porridge!
6. Buckwheat pancakes
Instead of the regular everyday flour pancakes, why not try a fiber-rich version with buckwheat? Buckwheat is an excellent alternative to wheat, and you can enjoy eating this psuedo-grain if you’re gluten-free. Despite the “wheat” in its name, buckwheat is more accurately classified as a seed and doesn't contain gluten.
For your gut, buckwheat offers a whole lot of insoluble fiber and resistant starch to support the good bacteria and help them thrive. Buckwheat is sold in "groat" form, like rice, or you can buy it in flour form to easily turn it into pancakes. If you're ready to try it, here’s a recipe for the fluffiest buckwheat cakes!
7. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are a newer favorite among healthy eaters. Besides being high in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, and a handful of vitamins, the fiber content is impressive. A 1-ounce serving of chia seeds has about 10 grams of fiber. Not too shabby!
This seed is also unique because it becomes thick and gelatinous when you soak it in water, which may help cleanse your gut, too. The best part is that you can add these tiny nutritious seeds to a wide variety of foods. For breakfast, add them to your oatmeal, porridge, or smoothie. Or try a simple chia pudding you can make the night before.
In a nutshell…
It’s a great time to branch out a bit and do something good for your gut. Adding these breakfast foods will liven things up in the morning and support a healthy bacterial balance for smooth sailing throughout the day. A happy gut gives you and your body a reason to smile!