United Supermarkets' Corporate Dietician Brenda Garcia has been talking with us a lot lately about functional foods.

You may think, "All foods are functional, right? I am hungry, and after I eat, I'm not hungry anymore." Yes, but she's talking about food that serves a health function beyond basic nutrition, like consuming honey to boost your immune system.

Lately, she and her team have really zeroed in on gut health on their blog, Happy + Nourished. Pre- and post-biotics help build the "good bacteria" in the gut that "help break down food, make vitamins, generate serotonin, fortify the intestinal wall, regulate metabolism and boost immunity," according to Happy + Nourished.

Eating fiber is important for keeping that good bacteria working properly, but on average, most Americans don't eat enough fiber. In general, Garcia and other dieticians encourage the use of functional foods over supplements.

Here are some tips from Happy + Nourished for using functional foods to build and maintain good gut health:

1) Build both prebiotics and probiotics into your daily diet. It can be as simple as pairing half a cup of cottage cheese with half an apple seasoned with a little maple syrup and cinnamon. Or trying the infamous peanut butter and pickle sandwich. Click here for some more ideas from Happy + Nourished.

2) Sneak more fiber into your diet gradually. Many of us get about 15 grams of fiber a day, while men really need at least 37 grams and women need at least 25. Almonds and blueberries are great options, and you can find even more here.

3) Experiment with some new recipes that utilize functional foods. Great options with prebiotics, probiotics and/or fiber include:

To ensure you don't miss out on any great tips from Garcia and her team, scroll down to the bottom of the Happy + Nourished website and sign up for their newsletter. You'll get the latest right in your inbox!

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