Gut health directly impacts your health—from helping with weight loss to regulating mood, energy, digestion, immune function, and much more [1]. So, it's no wonder “how to heal your gut” and “how to improve gut health” are top Google hits.

Before digging in, please keep this in mind: we all have things to work on when it comes to improving gut health. 

Today we’re going to share what gut health is, why gut health matters, and specific tips for supporting gut health. But don’t stress about implementing everything you learn at once—most people don’t need to “heal” their gut completely but will still see improvements in their health and body composition when implementing the tips below.

What is Going on in Your Gut?

Before digging into why gut health matters and how to heal your gut, let’s talk about what is going on in your body.

Your gut microbiome is made up of the bacteria and fungi living in your digestive tract. These microorganisms (sometimes called microbes or microbiota) in your gut are unique to you and dependent on your DNA—you are first exposed to microbes in the birth canal and, if you were breastfed, through breast milk [2]. 

As you age, your environment and habits (what you eat, where you live, how you exercise, and what you’re exposed to) impact the health and makeup of your microbiome.

Trillions of these microorganisms interact symbiotically (beneficial for all parties!) when you eat a well-rounded diet, exercise regularly, and are generally “healthy.” But, sickness, prolonged antibiotic use, and unfavorable food decisions can throw off this symbiosis and cause short—and long—term health issues [3].

Why Does Gut Health Matter?

“Getting healthier” is a common goal, and it can mean a host of things depending on your goals and body—maybe you want to lose weight, decrease anxiety, get stronger, sleep better, or be able to move more efficiently in your workouts.

Because your gut plays a role in every significant process in your body, supporting gut health can help you reach almost any goal.

Gut Health and Mood

Your gut is called your “second brain” for a reason. Have you ever noticed a sick feeling in your stomach and digestive upset during high-stress times?

There is direct communication between the bacteria in your gut and the bacteria in your brain—this relationship is referred to as the “gut-brain axis” [4].

Gut bacteria produce the primary neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation, like dopamine, GABA, and serotonin [5]. Those same bacteria even impact neurotransmitter levels in your brain's emotional and cognitive centers [6].

Although further research is needed, researchers believe there is a relationship between imbalances in the gut microbiome and the development of health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diagnosed anxiety disorders, and even some cancers [7].

What is the moral of the story? Supporting your gut with the tips below may impact your mood and mental well-being.

Gut Health and Your Immune System

The National Cancer Institute summarizes the immune system as “a complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and the substances they make that help the body fight infections and other diseases” [8]. So, pretty important.

70-80% of immune-related cells are present in your gut, so disturbances in your gut microbiome can directly impact your ability to fight infection [9].

Want to know which specific foods impact your immunity and why? Check out this article.

Gut Health and Energy

Serotonin (remember, this neurotransmitter is produced in your gut) is associated with mood regulation and impacts your sleep-wake cycles [10]. Researchers estimate that more than 90% of your body’s serotonin production happens in your gut [11]. 

Disruptions in your gut’s ability to adequately produce serotonin can impact sleep, affecting daily energy, weight loss, performance, and more.

Gut Health and Weight Loss & Performance

It’s easier to reach your body composition goals when you feel good in your skin, sleep is solid, and you have the energy to train hard and recover harder.

You Feel Good in Your Skin
When your mood is high, you’re more likely to stick with the habits that support weight loss, like meal planning, meal prep, and regularly choosing the healthy foods that help your goals. Sure, we all have days that are tougher than others, but when you’re confident in your skin, you’re more likely to do the things that keep you feeling that way.

Sleep is Solid, and You Have Enough Energy for Training
Sleep directly impacts cortisol (a primary stress hormone) levels. A chronically high cortisol level can increase your likelihood of gaining weight or make it tougher to lose weight [12]. Stress also makes it tougher to stick to healthy food choices that support your ideal body composition [13].

Energy also impacts your ability to push hard and achieve your workout goals—whether it is burning calories, building muscle, or both.

Read How Does Stress Affect Weight Loss and How to Stop Stress Eating for more information.



How to Support Gut Health with Nutrition

Now that we’ve tackled why gut health matters, let’s dig into specific foods to eat to heal your gut and ensure you’re optimizing such a crucial aspect of your overall health.

Focus on Food Quality

Consuming foods high in processed sugars and fats has been linked to imbalances in the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gut [14]. 

The opposite (high-quality, minimally processed options) will help support your gut and ensure you reap the benefits of a healthy digestive system. 

Getting a variety of whole prebiotic and probiotic foods is a great start. Here is some inspiration:

Probiotic foods (or supplements) support the “good” bacteria in your gut. 

  • Yogurt
  • Raw cheese
  • Kifer
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Soy sauce
  • Tempeh 
  • Kombucha

Prebiotics “feed” your healthy gut bacteria. Foods high in prebiotics include:

  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Citrus fruits
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Kiwi
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Potatoes

For a few more ideas, check out What Should I Eat to Support My Immune System.



Fiber and Gut Health

Fiber plays an imperative role in gut health. There are two types of fiber:

You’ll find soluble fiber in foods like oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, apples, citrus fruits, and carrots. As your body breaks down these foods, the soluble fiber interacts with water, creating a gel-like substance in your digestive system. This allows food to pass more slowly through your intestinal tract and gives your body time to absorb the nutrients in the foods you eat [15].

Insoluble fiber is found in wheat, whole grains, nuts, beans, cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes. It combines with other foods you eat to build your stool and speed digestion [15].

A combination of the two—along with drinking enough water—allows for proper digestion speed. Working Against Gravity nutrition coaches typically recommend a minimum of 20-25g per day for women and 30-35g minimum for men.

Want more fiber info? Read, Fiber: What It Is and How to Get It. For hydration tips and tricks, check out How Much Water Should I Drink? Hydration Tips for Weight Loss.

Should You Take Supplements to Heal Your Gut?

Always consult your doctor before adding a supplement to your routine.

There are three supplements we get the most questions about when it comes to gut health here at WAG Nutrition: collagen, fiber, and probiotics.

Let’s review each:

Collagen Supplements

What is it? Collagen is a protein naturally produced by your body. In fact, collagen is found in your ligaments, bones, muscles, skin, and tendons, making it the most abundant protein in your body. Although some research suggests supplementing with collagen may improve gut health, there isn’t anything concrete [16,17].

Should You Take It? For most people, adding collagen peptides to your routine doesn’t hurt—especially if you need to eat more protein overall throughout your day. But don’t rely on it to heal your gut!

Fiber Supplements 

What is it? Fiber supplements are synthetic (read: manufactured) forms of soluble and insoluble fiber. Many fiber supplements are on the market today, and chatting with a doctor is your best bet if you think you need to try one.

Should You Take It? Although they may help you hit the 25-35g recommended daily amount, they shouldn’t be your go-to source of fiber or a reason to cut back on fresh fruits and veggies.

Probiotic Supplements

What is it? Remember when we talked about probiotics in your food? They support the good bacteria in your gut, and the truth is, sometimes we just need a little (supplemental) help in that department.

Should You Take It? Probiotics may be helpful during or after a round of antibiotics or if you’re dealing with a diagnosed digestive issue like IBS or ulcerative colitis. If you’re healthy, have no digestive woes, and eat plenty of whole foods, you likely do not need one. If you choose to try a probiotic supplement, do your research and chat with your doctor to ensure you’re taking the right kind.

Consider supplements as an insurance policy—great to have when needed (when your doc recommends it!). But, supplements should not take the place of whole foods. Almost everyone is better served getting collagen, fiber, and probiotics through real food first, as they come with additional vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive.

At WAG Nutrition, our coaches will help you optimize your gut health as much as possible by guiding you to build whole food habits and routines. Through weekly check-ins, unlimited messages, video calls, and personalized meal plans, they’ll teach you how to make choices you’re proud of that leave you feeling and looking strong and healthy.

Learn more and sign up today.



  1. Bull, M. J., & Plummer, N. T. (2014). Part 1: The human gut microbiome in health and disease. Integr Med (Encinitas), 13(6), 17-22.

  2. Ursell, K., Metcalf, L., Parfrey, W., & Knight, R. (2013). Defining the human microbiome. Nutr Rev., 70(1), S38-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00493.x

  3. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (2023). The Microbiome.

  4. Morais L. H., Schreiber H. L., & Mazmanian S. K. (2021). The gut microbiota-brain axis in behaviour and brain disorders. Nat Rev Microbiol, 19(4), 241-255. DOI: 10.1038/s41579-020-00460-0

  5. Liu L, & Zhu G. (2018). Gut-brain axis and mood disorder. Front Psychiatry, 9, 223. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00223

  6. Lyte M. (2013). Microbial endocrinology in the microbiome-gut-brain axis: how bacterial production and utilization of neurochemicals influence behavior. PLoS Pathog, 9(11).

  7. Quigley E. (2013). Gut bacteria in health and disease. Gastroenterol Hepatol, 9(9), 560-569.

  8. National Cancer Institute. (2023). Immune System.

  9. Wiertsema, S., Bergenhenegouwen, J., Garssen, J., & Knippels, L. (2021). The interplay between the gut microbiome and the immune system in the context of infectious diseases throughout life and the role of nutrition in optimizing treatment strategies. Nutrients., 13(3), 886. doi: 10.3390/nu13030886.

  10. Portas, C., Bjorvatn, B., & Ursin, R. (2000). Serotonin and the sleep/wake cycle: special emphasis on microdialysis studies. Prog Neurobiol, 60(1), 13-35. doi: 10.1016/s0301-0082(98)00097-5.

  11. O'Mahony M., Clarke G., Borre Y., Dinan, T., && Cryan, J. (2015). Serotonin, tryptophan metabolism and the brain-gut-microbiome axis. Behav Brain Res, 277, 32-48. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2014.07.027.

  12. Nieman, L. K. (2018). Recent updates on the diagnosis and management of cushing’s syndrome. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul), 33(2), 139-146. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2018.33.2.139

  13. Epel, E., Lapidus, R., McEwen, B., & Brownell, K. (2001). Stress may add bite to appetite in women: A laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 26(1), 37-39. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4530(00)00035-4.

  14. Bolte, L., Vila, A., Imhann, F., Collij, V., Gacesa, R., Peters, V.,...Weersma, R. (2021). Gut, 70, 1287-1298.

  15. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. Mayo Clinic Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Retrieved from

  16. McCarty, M., & Lerner, A. (2021). Perspective: Prospects for nutraceutical support of intestinal barrier function. Adv Nutr., 12(2), 316-324. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmaa139

  17. Abrahams, M., O’Grady, R., Prawitt, J. (2022). Effect of a daily collagen peptide supplement on digestive symptoms in healthy women: 2-phase mixed method study. JMIR Form Res., 6(5), e36339. doi: 10.2196/36339