What is Your Gut Microbiome?
The human gut microbiome refers to the trillions of microorganisms, including various types of bacteria, that inhabit our digestive tract.
Among these organisms, some of these bacteria produce butryrate and other beneficial SCFAs that improve our health.
But not all bacteria in our digestive tract are good bacteria and many people suffer from what is known as dysbiosis.
A fancy way of saying that the bad are starting to outnumber the good and that the overall diversity in your gut microbiome has decreased.
Here’s the good news though, we can improve the health of our gut microbiome through strategic dietary modifications – and while most traditionally “healthy” foods will have a positive impact on gut health in most people, there are a few specific families of foods which are uniquely beneficial.
These include Prebiotic-Rich Foods and Fermented Foods.
Let's take a closer look.
Prebiotics For Gut Health
The term prebiotic refers to specific types of dietary fiber which act as a sort of “food” for our healthy gut bacteria and stimulate their growth – which is a good thing!
Our gut bacteria also produce beneficial compounds, like butyrate, as part of the metabolic processes involved in breaking down this special type of fiber.
Not all types of dietary fiber produce this effect however, and only certain foods contain meaningful amounts of prebiotics.
Prebiotic-Rich foods include:
- Legumes: chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans
- Vegetables asparagus, garlic, cabbage, onion and leeks
- Whole grains barley, oatmeal and whole wheat bread/pasta
- Fruits apples and bananas
- Nuts/Seeds flax, almonds and pistachios
As you can see the list of prebiotic-rich foods is not a huge one and although the foods above are not the only options out there, they are the ones that are most commonly available and conventionally used.
Are you able to include at least one food from each family of foods daily?
Fermented Foods For Gut Health
Fermented Foods include foods or beverages that involve the use of beneficial bacteria in their production.
These foods have exploded in popularity in recent years as a result of a growing scientific interest in gut health but it wasn’t until the Summer of 2021 that they really came onto my radar.
It was at that time that the acclaimed scientific journal, Cell, published a fresh new study demonstrating that increasing fermented food intake over a multi-month period demonstrated the potential to improve gut microbiome diversity in humans while also reducing inflammation.
Recall from my earlier definition of dysbiosis that a loss of microbiome diversity is problematic for human health, and so here we have a great way to fight back against that.
So which foods fall in the fermented category?
Again, the list is limited, but candidates include:
- Probiotic Yogurt
- Kimchi, Sauerkraut & other fermented veggies
- Fermented cottage cheese
Are any of these foods on your radar?
While I appreciate, they are more niche then some of the choices in the prebiotic category, we have good scientific reason to believe these foods can meaningfully enhance your gut microbiome.
Putting It All Together
The goal of today’s article is, above all else, to get you excited for the Gut Reset Challenge which is only weeks away.
Here’s a fun idea combining both fermented and prebiotic rich foods which would be a great fit:
5-Ingredient Prebiotic Yogurt Parfait:
¾ cup of your favourite probiotic yogurt, any flavour
1 sliced banana
1 tbsp flaxseed
1 tbsp almonds or pistachios
2 tbsp dry oats or granola