When we think of gut health, we often consider the foods we eat. Something often overlooked is the impact drinks can have on the gut, too!
Not only do we need to be mindful of drinks that can be harmful to the gut, but it’s useful to know which drinks can actually have a positive effect on the gut. Here, we’ll discuss which drinks are good for your gut and why!
The Importance of Hydrating for Gut Health
Hydration is vital to the digestive tract, gut microbiome, and overall health. Given you can only survive for approximately 3 days without water,1
In terms of the impact on the gut, for our food to be digested, it needs fluid to move through the digestive system. If there is not enough fluid, it can cause excess gas, constipation, bloating, pain and discomfort.
Water, of course, is the most hydrating drink. It is essential to our survival and is the absolute best choice to maintain hydration. There are other options to bump up your hydration levels if plain water isn’t your thing, though!
Low-fat milk is a great alternative for hydration. Milk is full of electrolytes which help to rehydrate the body after a bout of dehydration. Even chocolate milk and full-fat milk are hydrating; just be careful of the fat and sugar intake if you are consuming a lot of the stuff!2
Water infused with fruit or veg is a great way to add flavour to your water whilst adding extra vitamins and minerals. As we know, cucumber is the most hydrating vegetable out there at 96%, so adding cucumber slices to your water boosts hydration even more whilst giving you the antioxidant properties and vitamins that cucumber contains.3
When choosing a fruit juice, be sure to pick one labelled as “100% fruit juice” to boost your hydration levels. On average, fruit juice comprises 85% water, making it very hydrating and bursting with vitamins and minerals to boost your overall health.4
Caffeine-free teas are a great choice for hydration - whether you like it hot or cold. Tea contains powerful antioxidants and is almost as hydrating as plain water.5
Electrolytes are essential to staying hydrated, so water boosted with electrolytes can help increase hydration levels even further. Electrolytes help to direct the fluids to the areas of the body that need hydrating the most whilst ensuring cells maintain proper fluid balance, too. If your body isn’t sending the fluids to the right places, you can still suffer from dehydration.6
Consuming probiotics is a fantastic way to improve your gut health; probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that benefit the gut microbiome by increasing diversity and providing the necessary balance between good and bad bacteria.
Probiotics can be found in certain fermented drinks, as well as foods. Here are a few fermented drinks that could benefit your gut!
Kefir is a fermented milk drink made from kefir grains. These grains are added to milk so the milk can ferment and then be removed and reused repeatedly. Kefir is sour and could be described as fizzy due to the carbon dioxide that appears in the fermentation process.7
Kombucha is another probiotic drink made with black tea, yeast and bacteria. It is left to ferment and then becomes fizzy, sweet and sour. During the fermentation process, a film called SCOBY forms on top of the drink, which can be used to make more kombucha.8
Probiotic yoghurt drinks are perhaps the most readily available in supermarkets, but you must be careful about which one you buy. Many contain very few probiotics and a whole load of sugar, so reading the ingredients and researching the brand can help you to make a more conscious choice.
Kefir contains more probiotics than any yoghurt drink, so if you like the taste of kefir, that’s usually the best option of the two, in our opinion.
Antioxidant drinks are any drinks that contain at least one antioxidant ingredient. Antioxidants positively impact gut health by helping to modulate the beneficial bacteria in the gut and reducing inflammation.9
Antioxidants help to reduce oxidative stress by maintaining a balance between antioxidants and free radicals. If there are too many free radicals in the body, they can damage DNA, fatty tissue and proteins in the body.10
Any drink containing phenolic compounds, vitamin C, astaxanthin, vitamin E or carotenoids can be considered an antioxidant. This includes green tea, pomegranate juice, coffee, matcha, dandelion tea, beet juice, acai juice and coconut water.11
So, now you have some more information on which drinks could benefit your gut, why not begin experimenting with different drinks? Each gut is so vastly different that it may take a few tries to figure out the best option for your gut microbiome.
It’s important to remember that no food or drink is inherently bad for you; consumed in moderation, no food should be considered solely good or bad. For all of these drinks we have recommended in this article, make sure to be sensible with your portion sizes. Consuming too much of anything can be detrimental to your gut health, including these gut-boosting drinks.