The human body contains of tens of millions of microorganisms in the gut microbiome.
These microorganisms consist of good and bad bacteria and other microbes that reside in our gut that can have a large influence on our health and disease, influencing our immune system and other metabolic factors.
These microorganisms, such as bacteria, can be beneficial and help reduce inflammation or can be harmful and increase inflammation.
Differences in the gut microbiome are linked to many environmental factors, such as diet, which can have a big influence on the composition of the gut microbiome.
Follow on reading for 5 tips on how to improve your gut microbiome through diet:
Consume pre- and pro-biotics.
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates, often coming from dietary fibre that feeds the good bacteria in our gut so that they can survive and diversify.
Probiotic foods contain beneficial bacteria. They can change the composition of our gut microbiome to help build a healthy intestinal mucosa protective layer, which stops the entry of harmful bacteria into the intestine and benefits the immune system.
Consume fermented foods.
Fermented foods contain probiotics and can positively affect the gut microbiome in both the short and long term, and in turn positively affect health.
Live bacteria are used in the fermentation process, which makes the food not only healthy for the gut microbiome but also very tasty.
Fermented foods also make the phytonutrient polyphenol more bioavailable, which in turn will further benefit the immune system through its anti-oxidative properties.
Examples of fermented foods that you can include in your diet:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Sourdough Bread
Fibre is the favourite food of healthy gut bacteria (probiotics)
Probiotics help with the digestion of fibre and in turn, produce short-chain fatty acids, which may help with the prevention of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and the risk of cancer.
Not only are there healthy nutrients in fruits and vegetables, but they are also high in fibre. Fruit and vegetable consumption is related to a decreased risk of chronic disease.
Whole grains are another source of food that are high in fibre and contribute to improved gut microbiome composition and quality.
Some high-fibre foods to include for a healthy gut microbiome:
- Oat bran
- Brown rice
Reduce intake of sugar
Preliminary studies have shown that consuming high amounts of sugar can cause a decrease in the ratio of good and bad gut bacteria.
This change in the balance of the gut microbiota can result in increased pro-inflammatory properties, which can be harmful to health.
Some tips on how to reduce sugar intake:
- Replace sugary drinks with water or unsweetened milk.
- Flavor your water with lemon or orange slices.
- Snack sensibly on foods such as nuts instead of snacks high in sugar.
- Choose cereals low in sugar.
- Read labels to find foods low in sugar.
Be aware when taking antibiotics
Antibiotics work by killing bacteria which includes even the good bacteria in the gut, thus removing the anti-inflammatory benefit of the gut microbiome.
It is important to only take antibiotics when necessary.
Taking probiotics after the consumption of antibiotics can be an effective way to restore the gut microbiome to its original state after antibiotic intake.
Increase your gut microbiome diversity by eating the Mediterranean Diet
Studies show that eating the Mediterranean Diet helps produce the most diversity in good bacteria strains in the gut which is beneficial for health.
Tips on how to eat a Mediterranean Diet include:
- Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Make a quarter of your plate whole grains
- Make a quarter of your plate protein foods.
- Make water the beverage of your choice.
- Include healthy plant-based oils when cooking.
- Eat fatty fish.
With these five simple tips, you can begin to improve your gut microbiome, which can lead to better health and overall well-being.
Want support in improving your gut health? Find an experienced Registered Dietitian the Dietitian Directory.
About the Author: Dawid Furman is a nutrition and exercise science student studying at the Southeast Technological University in Ireland and hopes to pursue a career as a dietitian in the future.
Reviewed by: Lindsey McGregor, RD & Elsa Wong, RD.
Images from: Unsplash and Pexels
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