You are what you eat. Or more accurately, you are what you feed the trillions of little organisms that live in your gut. The lining of your gut is covered in bacteria, creating a micro-ecosystem called the microbiome. Not surprisingly, what you feed your microbiome may have the biggest impact on its health. And the healthier it is, the healthier you are. The key to a healthy microbiome is nourishing a balance among the nearly 1,000 different species of bacteria in your gut.
The good bacteria in your digestive tract help protect you from harmful bacteria and fungi.
A wide variety of this good type of bacteria can aid in immune system functions, improve symptoms of depression, and help address obesity, among other benefits. Additionally, some of your gut bacteria form vitamin K and short-chain fatty acids which promote a strong gut barrier that helps keep out harmful substances, viruses, and bacteria and reduce inflammation.
Related : Am I Getting Enough Fiber?
Gut check — Do you have enough friendly gut bacteria?
In a healthy state, you can trust your gut to do all the right things for you. Unfortunately, don’t always live in a healthy state. People don’t eat the 25 to 35 grams of fiber that the gut bacteria need to survive and replicate.
The food you eat plays an important role in the balance of good and bad gut bacteria.
For example, a high sugar and high fat diet negatively influences the gut bacteria and may contribute to insulin resistance and other health conditions. Once you regularly feed the wrong bacteria, they’re able to grow faster and colonize more easily, without as many helpful bacteria to prevent them from doing so. Additionally, foods treated with pesticides may have negative effects on the gut bacteria. Studies have also shown that antibiotics can cause permanent changes in certain types of bacteria.
There are two ways to maintain this balance — helping the good microbes already there to grow by giving them the foods they like (prebiotic) and adding living good microbes directly to your system (probiotic).
Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers. They act like fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Prebiotics are found in many fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain complex carbohydrates, such as fiber and resistant starch. These carbs aren't digestible by your body, so they pass through the digestive system to become food for the bacteria and other microbes.
Related : What's an Unhealthy Gut?
Foods that are high in prebiotic fiber include:
legumes, beans, and peas
Jerusalem artichokes (not the same as regular artichokes)
So, tend your inner garden and savor the fruits of a healthy life!
About the authors:
Madur & Anitha Jagannath are certified Nutrition Consultants, in addition to their professions in technology and human resources. When Madur started feeling lethargic and slowing down, he started exercising regularly, became conscious of healthy eating habits and nutrition. He is an avid runner and does half-marathons often. At Voyage to Wellness, they attribute our reputation to the lasting customer relationships they have developed throughout the years. They believe in health & wellness and being fit, at all stages of people's lives.
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