Ways to Improve Your Gut Bacteria
There are around 40 trillion bacteria in your body, most of which are found in your gut. The food you eat directly affects the type of bacteria found in your digestive tract. In fact, more than 70% of your immune system resides in your gut.
The makeup of bacteria in your gut is known as the microbiome and they’re extremely important for overall health. A healthy gut helps keep chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer at bay, and also can reduce inflammation, keep your brain healthy and help you maintain a healthy weight.
You don’t need to rely on expensive probiotic supplements to improve your gut health. You can enhance your gut health naturally through diet.
Here’s a list of the types of food that have the most gut health benefits:
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods, and it’s categorized as soluble or insoluble. Both types of fiber help with gut health by assisting with digestion and preventing constipation. Eating high-fiber foods also helps protect you from gaining excess weight and developing chronic conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some kinds of cancer.
Good sources of fiber include:
- Beans, dried peas and lentils
- Bran (oat and wheat)
- Dried fruits, such as prunes and raisins
- Foods made with whole grains, such as whole-grain bread, whole-grain cereal and whole-grain pasta
- Whole grains, such as barley, quinoa, bulgur and brown rice
- Fresh fruits, especially apples with skin, pears with skin, oranges, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries
- Vegetables, especially artichokes, broccoli, green peas, winter squash, and white potatoes and sweet potatoes with skin
Probiotics are the “good bugs” and can be found in fermented foods. Eating probiotics adds good bacteria to your gut. The most common are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. In addition to helping balance your gut bacteria, probiotics can help if you have diarrhea, boost your immunity and keep your heart and skin healthy.
These foods have more good bacteria to improve your belly. They contain a high count of lactobacilli bacteria, which are beneficial. They are also the ones that convert sugar to acids and alcohols:
- And finally, low sugar yogurt of the plain, natural variety
It’s not enough to eat plenty of probiotic-rich foods—you also have to eat foods that help keep these health-promoting microorganisms alive.
Prebiotic foods contain types of soluble dietary fiber. Prebiotics act as fuel for specific bacteria in the gut, thus having the ability to promote the creation of more good bacteria.
Good prebiotic foods include:
- Jerusalem artichokes
Rich in fiber and plant-based molecules known as polyphenols, travel into your intestines where microbes use them for fuel. Foods that are rich in polyphenols, such as dark chocolate, have anti-inflammatory properties, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels and decrease cellular stress.
Who needs a reason to eat more chocolate? Count me in!
What are some other foods to improve your gut that are rich in polyphenols?
- Red grapes & wine made from red grapes
- Green tea
It’s never too late to change your diet to support better bugs in your gut. Making better choices today will result in a better and healthier tomorrow.