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The #1 Best Bread For a Healthy Gut, New Study Suggests

You can find it at your local deli.
FACT CHECKED BY Kristen Warfield

When it comes to your gut health, not all sandwiches are created equal. The grains that you eat can have a significant impact on the microorganisms in your digestive tract, so you may want to keep your gut health in mind next time you're in the bread aisle of your supermarket.

In fact, ​​a new study suggests that eating high-fiber rye bread can lead to improvements in your gut microbiome that are linked with better metabolic health.

In the study, published April 17 in the journal Nutrients, researchers looked at what happened when a group of adults was given soft bread, crisp bread, and breakfast cereals made with either high-fiber rye or refined wheat for 12 weeks.

Those who ate the rye products had more plasma butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid made inside the intestine from foods rich in fiber, and saw other positive changes in their gut microbiota composition. These were in turn linked with improvements in risk markers for metabolic disease.

Related: The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science

"The study supports other studies I have read regarding rye," Tami Best, MS, RDN, CDN, IFNCP owner and operator of Promise of Vitality, tells Eat This, Not That! "It is slowly absorbed by the body and has phytonutrients that help you lose weight and improve metabolism. Likewise, rye's ability to produce more of the butyrate-producing bacteria is a great benefit for gut health."

She adds that butyrate can help protect you from inflammation and oxidative damage and can have benefits for your intestine. Plus, evidence suggests that it could help protect you from colorectal cancer.

When it comes to how your food choices affect your cut health, Mary Purdy, MS, RDN , integrative and functional eco-dietitian, recommends to Eat This, Not That! that you opt for foods rich in fiber, phytochemicals, and healthy fats and that you reduce your consumption of "refined sugars, processed meats [and] highly chemicalized foods."

However, she notes that focusing entirely on your individual food decisions could be losing sight of the forest for its trees as far as having access to gut-healthy foods.

"While it is partially about choices, it is also about looking at the bigger system and examining what we produce the most of, which is very often what is cheap, and abundantly available to many communities," she says. "Reimagining our food system to produce fewer processed foods and increase access to high-fiber, nutrient-dense foods is going to be key."

To learn more about how the food system works, consider watching The 13 Best Food Documentaries to Stream.

Clara Olshansky
Clara Olshansky (they/she) is a Brooklyn-based writer and comic whose web content has appeared in Food & Wine, Harper’s Magazine, Men's Health, and Reductress. Read more about Clara
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