It’s amazing how much has changed in understanding the inner workings of the human body over the last few years. And with every passing day, there are new discoveries about your gut, particularly the billions of microbiota or gut bacteria that call it home.
Your gut microbiome has a huge impact on nearly every aspect of your health, from digestion and happiness to heart disease and diabetes.
How to Improve Your Gut Bacteria
As science learns more about gut health, it becomes increasingly important to give your gut what it needs. And that is a happy and diverse microbial population to make you as healthy as you can be. To achieve this, you need to eat a diet rich in inulin, fiber, prebiotics, probiotics, and antioxidants.
Let’s take a closer look.
Nondigestible carbohydrates that feed existing gut bacteria such as probiotics. They are found in plant sources and typically act as a fertilizer for your small intestine.
Live bacteria and yeasts that thrive in certain foods. These include dairy items like yogurt, kefir, and unpasteurized cheeses, as well as fermented foods like kimchi.
A prebiotic found in many plant foods. It’s converted into short-chain fatty acids in the body and offers numerous health benefits, including stimulating gut bacterial growth.
Another indigestible carbohydrate that also acts as food for gut bacteria. It plays an essential role in promoting heart health and digestion, as well as keeping your cholesterol levels in check.
These come in the form of vitamins, nutrients, or phytochemicals to help prevent or stop free-radical cell damage. Polyphenols, in particular, are especially important for gut health. They strengthen your immune system and protect your cells from intruders and wear and tear.
Top 5 Foods To Improve Gut Bacteria
Okay, so now we’re going to look at the top five foods you can eat to maximize your gut bacteria population!
1. Jerusalem Artichoke
This is one of the best sources of inulin you can get, with a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving delivering 16 to 20 grams.
Never heard of a Jerusalem artichoke before? Well, you might be surprised to learn that it isn’t in the artichoke family or native to Jerusalem.
It’s actually an Italian variety of sunflower that very closely resembles ginger root. It’s nutty, sweet, and crunchy, and can be prepared much like potatoes or parsnips. Jerusalem artichokes taste great sautéed, roasted, or pureed.
2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
One of the most versatile foods out there, extra virgin olive oil can be used as a dip, dressing, ingredient, or cooking oil. So, you should have no difficulty finding a way to use it.
Extra virgin olive oil will provide you with a dose of polyphenols that help maintain microbial diversity for a healthy gut, as well as boost your immune system.
Another dense source of inulin and antioxidants, garlic can be used to feed a healthy and hungry gut population and add to the beneficial bacteria that are already present.
If you’re not a fan of its strong taste, you can opt for onion as a substitute.
These nutrient- and fiber-dense sweet treats are easy to grab on the go or slice up for use in a salad. The skin has valuable pectin that microbes love, so be sure not to peel it!
I’m sure you were waiting for this one. Probiotic-rich yogurt, kefir, and unpasteurized milk and cheeses contain live bacteria. These foods positively contribute to your gut microbe population, and encourage them to produce healthy chemicals that promote health from head to toe!
Now that you know how important a healthy gut is to your overall health and well-being, be sure to include these foods in your balanced diet.
Spitzler, A., “Inulin 101 – A prebiotic fiber with powerful health benefits,” Medical News Today, August 1, 2017; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318593.php, last accessed August 3, 2017.
“Jerusalem Artichoke,” BBC Good Food, 2017; https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/jerusalem-artichoke, last accessed August 3, 2017.
“Tim Spector’s Top Ten List of Gut-Friendly Foods,” CBC, August 26, 2017; http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/features/tim-spectors-top-ten-list-of-gut-friendly-foods, last accessed August 3, 2017.