Every time you eat a meal, you’re also feeding the roughly 100 trillion bacteria that call your gut and other organs home. Bacteria isn’t just passively hanging out in digestive organs: They have the ability to break down food remnants and turn them into usable sources of energy. As many as 1,000 different bacterial strains inhabit our intestines, and each of us has our own unique gut fingerprint of microbes comprised of different species in different proportions.
Different species of bacteria thrive on different foods, so what we eat alters our intestinal makeup. For example, research shows that the standard Western diet, high in protein and fat, has been associated with a greater proportion of bacteria belonging to the Bacteroides genus. A high-carbohydrate, high-fiber diet, such as that consumed by traditional rural populations, has been correlated with higher amounts of Prevotella bacteria.
The following suggestions may help to nourish a more complex gut environment by fueling beneficial bacteria:
- Eat a wide variety of high-fiber plant foods every single day, including vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Incorporate prebiotic foods. Best bets include onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, asparagus, beets, cabbage, beans, lentils, soybeans, whole wheat, oats, and bananas.
- Enjoy fermented foods. Fermented foods get their tang from lactic acid-producing bacteria, which can survive your harsh digestive tract and actually populate your gut, at least temporarily. Yogurt with live and active cultures is an easy source, but there are plenty of other deliciously funky options.
Contact your doctor for advice and questions about your gut health!Tags: food, gut, gut health, health, intestinal, stomach, stomach health