The human body houses trillions of bacteria, with a majority of them hosted in the intestines. While a few types are disease causing, some are harmless and some are actually the “good ones”. The most surprising fact about these gut bacteria, collectively known as microbiome, is that they are extremely significant for your digestive health. For this reason, it is essential that you maintain a healthy microbiome to ensure optimal health.
Interestingly, the food you eat plays a key role in maintaining the good bacteria in your gut. No wonder, sometimes a diet can hurt you and the real reason is that it disrupts the microbial balance within your intestine. At the same time, it becomes clear that the right diet can help you to restore it too. Besides eating right, there are a number of things that you can do to improve your microbiome as a whole. Let us define these and help you improve your gut health.
- Opt for diversity in your diet
Diversity in your diet is the key to building and maintaining a healthy microbiome. Ideally, your intestine should have hundreds of different good bacteria as each one has its own role. Also, each of these strains has specific nutritional requirements for growth, which is the reason that you should consume a diverse diet to cultivate a diverse microbiome. The more is the diversity; the better is your digestive health.
- Eat more fruits and veggies, beans and legumes and whole grains
Healthy eaters have always talked about the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables as they are high in nutritional value. One more reason is that they do a lot of good for your microbiome as they are high in fiber. Certain gut bacteria (Bifidobacteria) love fiber and thrive when they get enough of it. Similarly, beans and legumes are also high in fiber and make excellent food options for a healthy gut. Whole grains are rich in non-digestible carbs, which stimulate the microbiome as well.
- Consume fermented foods
Another natural way in which you can improve the bacterial makeup of your gut is by consuming fermented foods such as yoghurt, Kimchi, Kefir, Tempeh and Sauerkraut. Fermentation is the process of the sugar in the food being converted to organic acids by bacteria or yeasts. Fermented foods like yogurt are high in lactobacilli, a bacterial that supports digestion. Regular consumption of plain, natural yogurt is recommended for addressing a range of digestive issues such as lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Go for prebiotic foods
Prebiotic foods are the ones that stimulate the growth of the beneficial microbes within the digestive system. These foods comprise complex carbs or fiber which cannot be digested by the human cells but are rather broken down by certain species of bacteria that reside inside the gut. Many vegetables, fruits and whole grains are the natural sources of prebiotics. Besides promoting the digestive health, these are also capable of lowering insulin, triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
- Take a probiotic supplement
Probiotics are the live micro-organisms that deliver specific health benefits by altering the digestive microbiome and supporting the metabolic function. These are available in the form of supplements that are highly effective for improving the gut function and making you healthier. In people suffering from digestive diseases, these supplements can restore their microbiome and relieve symptoms to a considerable extent.
- Opt for a plant-based diet
Research has shown that vegetarian diets are highly beneficial for the gut microbiome, probably because of their higher fiber content. Additionally, it offers some extra benefits such as reduction in weight, inflammation and cholesterol levels. It has also been found that people who eat plant-based diets have lesser disease-causing bacteria in their gut as compared to those who eat animal-based foods.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners
Weight watchers and diabetics rely on artificial sweeteners to cut down the consumption of sugar. However studies have indicated that they may have a detrimental impact on the microbiome. Animal studies have associated the intake of artificial sweeteners with the presence of a higher number of harmful bacteria in the intestines.
Food is the mainstay of building a healthy microbiome as eating the right food ensures that you have the right bacteria in your digestive system. So if you want to improve your digestive health naturally, eating healthy is the best approach. Not only should you prefer fresh and organic plant-sourced foods, but also take the right probiotic supplements to strengthen your gut naturally. After all, a healthy gut means a healthy you!