9 Foods to Avoid for a Healthy Gut
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Foods to Avoid for Gut Health

For most of us, our diet includes the good, the bad and the ugly, foods, that is. 

The good includes fruit and vegetables.  The bad includes refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup.  And the ugly includes processed foods and artificial sweeteners.

If we wish to have a healthy digestive system, we need to understand what foods to avoid for gut health.

9 Foods to avoid for a Healthy Gut

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Is your gut rumbling?  Is it causing you discomfort?  If so, the first place to look for the cure is your food.  Bloating and gas are not the only signs that you need to improve what you are eating. 

Other simple symptoms may be that you are experiencing fuzzy-brain, restless sleep and stress.    If you are experiencing any of these, it’s often beneficial to take a look at the foods you are eating. 

Once you are paying attention to what you are eating, it is easier to start avoiding foods that aren’t good for you or your gut health. 

Our Story to Poor Gut Health

My husband and I had acquired a very bad habit.  We had been eating a lot of fast food.  This went on for about two months.  Then one day, out of the blue, my husband asked me if I had been feeling well, just in general.  I responded that my stomach hadn’t felt too good for the past week or so.  He mentioned that he hadn’t felt very good either.  We didn’t feel sick, we just didn’t feel particularly good.  

It didn’t take us long to figure out that one thing that we had changed (not on purpose – it just simply happened) was that we had eaten at fast food restaurants quite a bit recently.  That was a light bulb moment!  It didn’t take a brain surgeon to make the connection between our not feeling very good and our poor fast food habit. 

Not only did we not feel particularly well, but we had also gained some weight and noticed that our waste elimination was definitely out of whack. 

As I found out through researching the topic, our gut health has a direct impact on our physical and mental health.

Time for a Change

We agreed at that moment that we were going to make some changes to our diet to improve our gut health and see if our general not feeling good symptoms would go away.   

The first step to helping our gut recover from our poor eating habits was to learn what foods we should be avoiding if we wanted to have a healthy gut. That meant we needed to remove the bad and ugly foods from our diet. 

Let’s look at some of foods that we found out that we should consider removing from our diet.

Here’s a good book on this topic:

Foods to avoid for gut health

9 Foods to Avoid for Gut Health

  • Refined sugar
  • Gluten
  • Meat
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Soft Drinks
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Processed Foods
  • Dairy
  • Soy

If you need to make drastic changes, then perhaps you would want to wholeheartedly follow this list.  Or, if you are only suffering from a few of the symptoms of gut health, you may choose to simply reduce your consumption of many of these, while completing removing others.

Refined Sugar

Let’s talk a little bit about the problem with sugar.  We love sugar.  We are from the South and love sweet iced tea and donuts and cake, etc. I think you get the picture. That is not a good thing.   

The problem with refined sugar (the sugar we generally buy in the store) is that our bad gut bacteria loves sugar.  That means that when we eat sugar, our bad gut bacteria thrive and grow out of control.  That means the bad bacteria can outwork our good bacteria. 

Not only does this affect our daily health and our ability to fight off viruses, but it can also help lead to diseases and disorders such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and inflammatory bowel diseases. 


Gluten is a protein that can be found in grains such as wheat, rye, spelt and barley. 

Many people have an intolerance for handling gluten in their digestive tract.  I had a friend that suffers from a major gluten intolerance. She was in her 30’s before the Doctor’s figured out what her problem was. Fortunately, the doctor’s check for this intolerance early on now.

But, not everyone has a gluten intolerance. You could try eliminating gluten from your diet for a period of time.  If you don’t notice any difference, then it is likely that your system tolerates gluten well and you don’t need to remove it from your diet to improve your digestive health. 


In some studies high levels of meat intake have been linked with increases to higher numbers of less desirable species of gut bacteria.

If you are big meat eaters (like we are), you may wish to simply reduce the amount of meat you eat and see if there’s a difference in how you feel.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

This syrup is found in a whole lot of the junk food and the beverages that we consume today.  High fructose corn syrup is linked to diabetes, fatty liver disease and other inflammatory conditions.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing about how bad high fructose corn syrup is for a long time. I thought we had done a good job of removing it from our diet until I realized that it is one of the ingredients in ketchup (and a lot of other processed foods). Ugh! That hurt because I am a ketchup with my french fries (made in my air fryer, of course) kind of girl.

All of these issues begin in the our gut microbiome.

Want to read more about our gut microbiome? This is also a good article about gut microbiome.

Processed Foods

Processed foods are generally packed with sugars, preservatives, coloring, chemicals and additives.  Additionally, they have a lot of empty calories.  All of these can lead to a poor gut health.

Foods to avoid for gut health


Dairy is often a cause of bloating and abdominal discomfort.  I remember years ago when I had an issue every single night with what appeared to be irritable bowel syndrome.  It turned out that all I had to do was to reduce the amount of milk I was drinking each day and the issue went away. 

Even if you are not dairy intolerant, you may find that consuming less dairy each day will help improve the health of your digestive system.


Many people enjoy soy as an alternative to milk and/or meat.  However, soy, (if not properly prepared and fermented as they do in Asian cultures) can be very difficult for the human gut to digest.

Soft Drinks

We all know that soft drinks are not good for us.  But, for the sake of a reminder, we have included them in this list.  Soft drinks are mostly carbonated water, sugar and/or artificial sweeteners. 

They are empty calories and although this post is not about weight loss I want to share this encouraging tidbit.  One of my family members lost 80 pounds in one year.  He had only made one change to his diet.  He had stopped drinking soft drinks. Wow! 

The How to – Foods to Avoid for Gut Health

Maybe you are like me and you don’t want to drop all of those foods from your diet.  I know.  It is a long list and dropping all of those foods from your diet would be a drastic change. 

Make a Change Your Way

You can go about making the change in different ways. 

By Food Type

Drop one type of food from your diet at a time.  See if it makes a difference in how you feel.

When you are ready, maybe in a month or two, drop another type of food.  Some of the foods on the list change your diet quite a bit.  For example, dropping sugar from our diets involves a lot of different foods.  

By Specific Food

Experiment by dropping a different food from your diet for a two weeks. Did you notice any difference in how your felt? If it doesn’t make a difference, put that food back into your diet and..

Then try another food, and another one, and so on.

9 Foods to Avoid for a Healthy Gut

Are You Ready?

Try one of these methods, or find another method that works best for you. Begin your journey to better gut health today.

This post is all about 7 Foods that you can add to your diet, to help restore gut health.

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