The microbes found in your digestive tract have a profound effect on your overall health. Likewise, what and how you eat—as well as other environmental factors—can have a significant impact on the health and balance of that health-supporting microbiome.
The power of food choices
Science has shown that diet can rapidly alter the composition of gut microbiota. For example, those who eat a diet rich in plant foods get more polyphenols. This leads to an increased presence of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains of bacteria, which provide anti-inflammatory effects and protect against pathogens and cardiovascular disease.
Certain bacteria species—such as Prevotella copri and Blastocystis, for example—also show a strong link with healthy blood sugar levels and reduced chronic inflammation, leading researchers to explore how they can use a person’s gut microbiome to predict risk of cardiometabolic diseases. From there, the hope is that a tailored diet can be prescribed to nourish favorable bacteria populations and reduce identified disease risk.
Be kind to your gut bugs
Give them a home
Probiotic foods contain beneficial bacteria, so upping your intake is an excellent way to get more of these health-boosting microbes in your gut. Stock up on kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, and probiotic supplements.
Feed them well
Prebiotics provide food to help the healthy bacteria grow and thrive in your digestive tract. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are some of the best prebiotics, including garlic, onions, chicory root, dandelion greens, bananas, apples, and whole grain oats. Prebiotic supplements are another great option if you’re not able to get enough from your diet.
Take them to the gym
Regular exercise can help nurture a variety of healthy bacteria in your gut, increasing the diversity of your gut flora in the process. Plus, research suggests that certain strains of beneficial gut bacteria can actually help increase your athletic performance, muscle mass, and energy levels.
In addition to supporting your gut flora with probiotics, prebiotics, and regular exercise, there are ways you can protect the good bugs you already have. To keep your beneficial gut bacteria safe and thriving, try to eat a diverse diet and avoid excess alcohol, processed sugar, fried foods, and antibiotics.
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