Gut health is wildly popular lately, in the health space and beyond, and rightfully so! With more data coming out, it seems, we’re learning so much about how gut health affects so many other aspects of our health… including our mood and mental health, our heart, our kidneys, and our brain. Who knew there was so much riding on digestion?
It places even more emphasis on what we put into our bodies, and when. And while everyone’s body (and gut microbiome!) is different, and we all have nuanced needs in our diets, there are certain things we can eat that can help our gut thrive — thus supporting the rest of our body.
So why not start your day with a gut-friendly breakfast? You’ll be setting the tone for a healthy day, improving your mood, and aiding your digestion and metabolism. Plus, these healthy choices tend to have a snowball effect — one good action begets another. Ahead, we have five ways to execute this quickly and simply, with under five ingredients (most of which you probably already have on hand).
5 Simple Gut-Friendly Breakfast Ideas
#1 Oatmeal: 1 Ingredient (or more!)
One of the simplest, easiest, most effective gut-friendly foods to start your day? Good old-fashioned oatmeal. If you’re trying to keep the ingredient list simple and whole, this is an optimal choice because there’s just one ingredient: oats. (Technically, you need to hydrate and cook the oats, so water’s in there too).
“Oats are such an amazing choice for gut health, and something I recommend to clients consistently, because they are loaded with fiber to aid in digestion and keep you full,” says registered dietitian Lisa Mastela, RD, MPH, and founder of Bumpin Blends. And while oatmeal truly can be just plain oats, Mastela likes to have a little more fun with her combinations, which can be customized to fit your nutritional goals. If gut health is first on the priority list, she recommends “eating the rainbow” and adding in a variety of colored fruits to your breakfast bowl.
#2 Greens Scramble: 2 Ingredients
Using just two ingredients — spinach (or kale) and eggs — you can enjoy a low-sugar, nutrient-dense, whole-food breakfast that’ll keep you full while feeding your gut. Leafy greens contain a myriad of micronutrients that are ideal for gut health, in addition to — you guessed it — fiber. Recent research has also found that eggs may be a veritable superfood for your gut as well. One study reported that “Egg consumption improves vascular and gut microbiota function without increasing inflammatory, metabolic, and oxidative stress markers.”
If you’re using an oil to cook your scramble, consider olive oil, which may also help the gut-brain axis!
#3 Yogurt Parfait: 3 Ingredients
Using a base of pre- and probiotic-rich yogurt, you can nourish your gut by feeding the microbiome healthy bacteria. And all the while, you’re simply enjoying a parfait before you go about your day! (Fun fact: parfait is the French word for “perfect”)
“Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and probiotics,” says Mastela. “Just be sure to read the label — there can be sneaky hidden sugars. The fewer ingredients you see, the better (typically). Aim for more grams of protein per serving than sugar.”
Top your yogurt with some chia seeds and fruit to add fiber (and flavor!), with some natural sugar from the fruit.
And if you like the idea of a yogurt parfait but need something portable, consider a drinkable option like kefir — similar to yogurt (a fermented dairy product), but with a different set of beneficial bacteria.
#4 Breakfast Sweet Potato: 3 Ingredients
A sweet-and-savory combo that’s not only delicious, but incredibly healthy: a baked sweet potato stuffed with an egg and the herb, spice, or sauce of your choice.
As for the sweet potato benefits, you’re getting soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as prebiotics that’ll keep your gut flora happy and healthy. And as we learned with the greens scramble, eggs can also improve the microbiome.
Depending on how much time you have, you can microwave or bake your potato, open it up, and add your egg (over easy, sunny side up, jammy soft boiled, or poached are all great!).
Top your stuffed potato with a drizzle of garlicky olive oil, or a dollop of Greek yogurt with some fresh herbs mixed in (fresh dill is great here). We’ve gone over how Greek yogurt and olive oil can be great choices for gut health… so it’s not just garnish! This is one you’ll be craving day after day.
#5 Gut Health Smoothie: 4 Ingredients
“Beans… are truly a magical fruit,” jokes Mastela. And while beans may not be the first thing you crave in the morning (unless you were raised on English breakfast, of course), she has a sneaky way of adding them — and their digestive superpowers — into your AM meal. “Try adding chickpeas to your breakfast smoothie,” she says. “I even designed a digestion-boosting blend at my own company, using chickpeas, because I myself experienced how much this approach helped me get fiber first thing in the morning.”
Use a combo of chickpeas, strawberries (or your favorite fruit), almond milk, and some chia seeds for a quick-and-easy blend that’ll help you get going… literally.
Mix and Match For a Healthy Gut-Friendly Breakfast
You can try different combinations of these ingredients and recipes. Perhaps a sprinkle of chia seeds on your oatmeal, or a sweet potato oatmeal mix! You could also add some Greek yogurt or kefir to your smoothie, or create a savory yogurt parfait instead of a sweet one. With a few basic ingredients, you can create an extensive combination of easy, healthful breakfasts that’ll start your day on a gut-friendly foot.