6 Foods You Didn’t Know Are Good for Your Gut

6 Foods You Didn’t Know Are Good for Your Gut

Brierley Horton, M.S., RD is a dietitian nutritionist, content creator and strategist, and avid mental health advocate. She is co-host and co-creator of the Happy Eating podcast, which breaks down the connection between food and mental wellness.

Did you know that fermented and cultured dairy in your diet offers a powerhouse of benefits, particularly for gut health? We're exploring the science behind this and dairy's role in lowering inflammation, while also sharing simple & delicious recipes that everyone will love.

When looking at the research on dairy and inflammation, we found that dairy isn't always the cause. For example, a study of 52 studies, which was published in 2017, found that diets that contained dairy (compared to those that did not) were generally less inflammatory. The researchers of this study took 98 markers of inflammation and converted them to a single inflammatory score. The people who had diets that included dairy had lower inflammatory scores. Also, the results were the same for those who ate low-fat or high-fat dairy, meaning less fat wasn’t any more beneficial.  

Then we looked for studies of fermented dairy foods specifically. Think: yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, etc. In studies that looked only at fermented dairy foods, the anti-inflammatory potential was also promising. For example, in interventions with fermented dairy foods—aka studies where researchers added fermented dairy foods like yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, kefir, etc. to participants' diets and then looked at their inflammatory markers—found that those inflammatory markers went down. Other similar studies found that adding just cheese to the diet had a neutral effect on inflammation, but adding yogurt tended to be beneficial. 

If all that study language has you a little bogged down, here’s the big picture takeaway: there isn’t enough research to say that dairy foods are always anti-inflammatory, but there is enough evidence to suggest that dairy foods shouldn’t stoke your inflammatory fire. There is an exception: if you have an allergy or intolerance, that will trump any benefit dairy foods may offer. Another benefit to adding fermented dairy foods to your diet: you’ll feed those good bugs in your gut microbiome.

Related: I'm Lactose Intolerant. Does That Mean I Should Avoid All Dairy?

Which dairy foods are considered fermented? Add any of these to your diet to feed your gut: 

  1. Yogurt
  2. Cream cheese
  3. Cultured cottage cheese
  4. Cultured sour cream
  5. Aged cheeses like Cheddar
  6. Kefir & cultured buttermilk 

Or, try boosting the fermented dairy in your diet with one of these recipes. Each recipe also includes ingredients that have anti-inflammatory properties! 

Cream Cheese and Radish Toasts: don’t shy away from the bitter bite in radishes. Those bitter-tasting compounds are what give radishes their anti-inflammatory compounds. 

Egg & Veggie Muffin Cups: not only is the shredded Cheddar beneficial here, but the added vegetables will add even more anti-inflammatory goodness. 

Cauliflower Wings with Buffalo Yogurt Dip: no one will notice that the base of this dip is high-protein, probiotic-filled yogurt—it’s that good! 

Cauliflower Wings with Buffalo Yogurt Dip

Strawberry Cream Cheese Bites: even something sweet can be good for you. The kiwis and strawberries in this recipe are both great ways to add more vitamin C to your diet, which is a powerful antioxidant! 

Salmon & Cream Cheese Bagel Sandwich: be generous with the salmon you add as it’s brimming with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. 

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