Written by our friend Mara Bustos, Registered Dietitian/Licensed Nutritionist
Did you know that the human microbiome consists of about 100 trillion microbial cells, outnumbering human cells 10 to 1? This can significantly affect how the human body behaves and performs its very important daily jobs.
The complex interactions between microbial communities and their hosts involve functions such as defense, metabolism and reproduction.
The function of our microbiome can be altered by changes in microbial populations, dietary changes, or exposure to antibiotics causing painful problems like inflammation and infection, which can then lead to health issues such as constipation, candida, allergies, arthritis, headaches, depression, autoimmune diseases and more.
The gut flora also makes many nutritional contributions, including breaking down indigestible food and absorption of nutrients to producing vitamins and amino acids. In fact, our microbiota generates most of the metabolites that are detected in plasma.
This is why it is very important to keep the good bacteria up and thriving in our gut, so that they can protect us and help prevent foreign attacker molecules to be leaked into our blood.
I have researched some foods that promote healthy gut flora proliferation that are easy to include in your daily diet to help cultivate a healthy microbe.
The 4 best foods to eat for a healthy gut flora
When digested, beans release short chain fatty acids (SCFA) which have anti-inflammatory properties and they also activate gut bacteria proliferation and activation.
Because of their high fiber content they are digested slowly and promote fermentation in the gut, which gives these good cells energy.
High fiber also helps in managing the high rise of blood sugar after a meal.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are beneficial to the human body, especially the digestive system.
Probiotics found in foods like yogurt and other fermented foods can promote more good microorganisms to enter the GI tract and help it remain well-balanced by replenishing the live cultures that already live there.
If you can’t consume enough of these foods, a daily probiotic supplement would be a great addition to your routine.
3. Cruciferous vegetables
The importance of eating appropriate servings of these foods has been extensively researched.
Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and cabbage, have been shown to positively alter the gut bacteria composition in humans.
4. Prebiotic foods
Prebiotic foods have a special type of fiber (soluble) that selectively feeds the good bacteria that contributes to health and should be consumed on a regular basis. Some examples include legumes, apples, fax and chia seeds, and oats.
Keeping your gut flora healthy
It’s all about balance when it comes to gut health. When your gut is in great shape (about 80-85% of bacteria are good or beneficial and 15-20% is bad), you feel great, your body is strong, you rarely get sick, your energy is consistent, and you don’t experience bloating or other GI symptoms.
The healthy bacteria are free to do their job with ease. They assist with digestion, produce disease-fighting antibodies, crowd out bad bacteria and produce certain hormones, vitamins and nutrients.
So keep your healthy microbiome thriving by feeding it the right foods.