The 4 Best Carbs for Gut Health, According to Gastroenterologists

Maintaining a healthy gut is crucial for overall well-being, as it plays a significant role in digestion, immunity, and even mental health. One of the key factors that contribute to gut health is our diet, particularly the carbohydrates we consume. Gastroenterologists, experts in digestive health, recommend certain types of carbohydrates that are beneficial for gut health. In this article, we will explore the four best carbs for gut health and discuss how you can incorporate them into your diet for optimal digestive well-being.


Our gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiota, which play a vital role in various bodily functions. A healthy gut microbiota promotes efficient digestion, strengthens the immune system, and helps prevent certain diseases. Carbohydrates, a macronutrient found in various foods, have a significant impact on the composition and function of the gut microbiota.

Understanding Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are organic compounds consisting of sugars, starches, and fibers. They are a primary source of energy for the body. When it comes to gut health, it’s important to distinguish between different types of carbohydrates.

  • Simple Carbohydrates: These include sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and processed foods. While some natural sugars can be beneficial, excessive consumption of added sugars can disrupt gut health.
  • Complex Carbohydrates: These include starches and fibers found in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates provide essential nutrients and promote a healthy gut.

Resistant Starch

Resistant starch is a type of starch that resists digestion in the small intestine and reaches the large intestine intact. It serves as a prebiotic, fueling the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Foods rich in resistant starch include green bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, legumes, and whole grains.

Including resistant starch in your diet offers several benefits for gut health. It helps promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, improves bowel regularity, and enhances overall gut function. To incorporate resistant starch into your meals, you can enjoy a hearty bowl of chilled potato salad, add green bananas to your smoothies, or include cooked legumes in your favorite dishes.

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber, as the name suggests, dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract. It acts as a prebiotic, nourishing the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, barley, legumes, apples, and citrus fruits.

Consuming foods rich in soluble fiber promotes a healthy gut environment by increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids, which provide energy to the gut cells and support their function. Aim to include foods like oatmeal, lentils, oranges, and chickpeas in your diet to reap the benefits of soluble fiber for gut health.

Whole Grains

Whole grains refer to grains that contain all parts of the grain, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. They are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat, and oats are particularly beneficial for gut health.

The high fiber content in whole grains helps regulate bowel movements, promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, and reduces the risk of certain gastrointestinal disorders. Try replacing refined grains with whole grain alternatives in your meals. For instance, opt for whole wheat bread, brown rice, or quinoa to enjoy the benefits of whole grains for your gut.


Legumes, including beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas, are a versatile and nutritious food group. They are rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Legumes have been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved gut health.

The fiber in legumes supports regular bowel movements and prevents constipation. Additionally, legumes provide a source of resistant starch, nourishing the gut microbiota. Incorporating legumes into your diet can be as simple as adding them to soups, salads, or stews, or even creating delicious plant-based burgers or spreads.


Maintaining a healthy gut is essential for overall well-being, and carbohydrates play a crucial role in supporting gut health. By including the right types of carbohydrates in your diet, such as resistant starch, soluble fiber, whole grains, and legumes, you can nourish your gut microbiota and promote optimal digestive function. Remember to incorporate these gut-friendly carbs into your meals and enjoy the benefits of a thriving gut.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Is it better to consume simple or complex carbohydrates for gut health?

    • While simple carbohydrates should be consumed in moderation, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and legumes are beneficial for gut health.
  2. How can I include more resistant starch in my diet?

    • You can incorporate resistant starch by consuming foods like green bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, legumes, and whole grains.
  3. What are some good sources of soluble fiber?

    • Oats, barley, legumes, apples, and citrus fruits are excellent sources of soluble fiber.
  4. Are refined grains harmful to gut health?

    • Refined grains lack essential nutrients and fiber, so it’s better to replace them with whole grain alternatives for better gut health.
  5. How can I include more legumes in my meals?

    • You can add legumes to soups, salads, stews, or even create plant-based burgers and spreads for a tasty and nutritious addition to your diet.

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