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4 Food Rules for Better Gut Health

These secrets from the new Reader's Digest book 21-Day Tummy will help you to balance your gut microbiota and lose weight.

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1. Eat more magnesium-rich foods.

Magnesium deficiency is linked to obesity and inflammation. The 21-Day Tummy diet loads up on spinach, brown rice, and pumpkin seeds, among other whole foods, to provide more of this vital mineral.

More: 7 Best Foods for Your Belly »

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2. Eat more anti-inflammatory fats.

Pair the MUFAs in foods like dark chocolate, olives and avocados that specifically target visceral belly fat with omega-3s (found in foods like salmon and walnuts) that combat inflammation and the many diseases associated with it. This protects you from heart disease, depression, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and, of course, gastrointestinal disorders and weight gain.

Also: 7 Worst Foods for Your Belly »

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3. Eat fewer carb-dense foods.

Carb-dense foods can alter the balance of our gut flora, triggering inflammation. Foods are considered carb-dense if they have a high ratio of carb grams relative to their weight. To minimize carb-dense foods, the 21-Day Tummy diet cuts out sugar, refined carbs, and most grains. Instead, it adds carb-light, natural foods like bananas, potatoes, and leafy green vegetables. Lean proteins and healthy fats are also carb-light.

More: How bad are your digestion problems?

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4. Eat fewer FODMAPs.

Clear your system of FODMAPs, the rapidly fermentable carbs or sugars that can play an ugly role in your digestive system, causing gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Everything from the fructose in agave nectar to the lactose in milk can be fast food for the bacteria in your gut, which is bad news for those of us with sensitive stomachs. The 21-Day Tummy diet minimizes FODMAPs, then guides you through a test to see which ones you can tolerate after three weeks.

Also: 6 recipes to lose weight and help digestion »

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Liz Vaccariello
Liz Vaccariello is the Editor-in-Chief of Parents magazine, the 2.2 million rate-base title. In addition, she is currently the Group Editorial Director for Parents Latina and Meredith's lifestyle titles including Shape, Real Simple, InStyle, Martha Stewart Living, and Health. Vaccariello has led many of the media industry's most recognizable brands, developing content across print, digital and social channels. Prior to joining Meredith, Vaccariello held numerous executive editorial roles including serving as the Chief Content Officer for Reader's Digest. She has also served as Editor-in-Chief of Rachael Ray Every Day; Editor-in-Chief of Prevention; Executive Editor of Fitness; and Editor-in-Chief of Cleveland Magazine. Vaccariello regularly appears on national broadcast media including The Today Show, CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, and Dr. Oz. She is the author of nine best-selling books, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Flat Belly Diet! She has received numerous awards and honors over her distinguished career and is a frequent speaker at major summits presented by the MPA, Folio, MIN, and Digiday among others. Vaccariello, who is the parent of twin daughters, earned a BA in Communications with Distinction from the University of Michigan and lives in New Jersey with her family.