What you eat directly influences the makeup of bacteria in your gut—known as the microbiome—which in turn impacts your 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. Maintaining a healthy gut is key to support immunity. It’s never too late to change your diet to support better bugs in your gut. Research shows that switching from a mostly animal-based diet to a mostly plant-based diet can change the makeup of your microbiome in as little as 24 hours.
Just like the foods we know are detrimental to gut health, there is a long list of foods that can aid in helping our digestive system heal and function well. After discussing a dietary plan with your doctor, consider adding some of the following to your daily menu:
Olive oil – It has been known to help reduce inflammation and encourage healthy microbes.
Garlic – It has been long known for balancing gut bacteria.
Ginger – Your mom was on to something when suggesting ginger ale for a queasy stomach. It has stimulating properties to keep things moving efficiently and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Yogurt and kefir – Both act as probiotics to encourage good bacteria growth.
Fermented foods like miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut – This food group also acts as probiotics to increase good bacteria.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage – Are considered prebiotics that aid in digestion
Bone broth – This ancient remedy is thought to alleviate stomach issues and ease digestion.
Avocados – This mild vegetable is loaded with potassium, fiber, and other nutrients that contribute to gut health.
The above-mentioned foods and beverages are just a small sampling of a long list of nutritious foods that are considered healthy options to help improve symptoms related to the gastrointestinal tract. In addition to adding gut-healthy foods to your meals, it is also recommended to drink a lot of water and add some exercise to your daily routine.
Probiotics are another way to improve gut health. Probiotics are the “good bugs” and can be found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and yogurt. 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.
It all goes back to eating lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains for prebiotics (food for the bacteria) and fermented foods like yogurt and kombucha for probiotics (good bacteria). Eat processed foods in moderation and limit added sugars, salt, artificial sweeteners and alcohol to keep your critters happy and your risk of chronic diseases low.