How to improve your gut microbiome: Eating for healthy gut bacteria

Would you like to improve your gut microbiome? The gut microbiome is a hot topic these days. If you follow the research, it’s associated with a number of health benefits.

We used to think that our body was mostly sterile. But we now know this to not be true. Furthermore, we understand that various parts of our body contain communities of bacteria, fungi and archaea. These communities, known as microbiomes, help regulate the health of these organs & tissues.

The gut microbiome is of particular interest because of it’s location. Residing in the gut, it helps do many different things:

  • Digest our food
  • Regulate immunity
  • Synthesize vitamins
  • Regulate metabolism
  • Stabilize our mood
  • Process hormones, medicine, & environmental toxins
  • And much, much more

The gut microbiome also plays a critical role in making our gastrointestinal tract function properly. While we call it the gut microbiome, it’s not just a single community. The conditions within our gut vary dramatically from mouth to stomach to colon.

As a result, these communities vary dramatically between different portions of the gastrointestinal tract. They do so in basically every way conceivable; from the number and types of microbes, to the metabolites they create.

Therefore, there really isn’t a single gut microbiome. But generally speaking, the methods to attract a healthy gut microbiome go through one central pathway: Maintaining a healthy gut. And most of those microbes, 90-95% of them, live in your colon.

How to improve your gut microbiome

The best way to improve your gut microbiome

Many people looking to improve their gut microbiome take various pills in the form of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics. While these supplements may be helpful they are not a good overall gut health strategy.

The primary way we create good gut health and attract a healthy microbiome is through diet, for many reasons. First, the foods we eat feed our microbiome. Secondly, whole foods deliver nutrients in a way that time-releases them throughout the gut compared to ultra-processed foods.

Finally, food contains all of the nutrients that our microbes need in a neat little package. These packages are resistant to digestion, and make the long journey from mouth to colon mostly intact.

The colon is the furthest part of your gut from your mouth. As such, the microbes that live there get last crack at your food. So you either need to eat a lot, or eat things that are more resistant to digestion. The latter is the preferred course.

So when those neat little care-packages arrive in the colon, they give your microbes what they need. Conversely, certain aspects of our diet can have negative effects if we rely on them too much.

But not to worry, there are things we can do to protect against these negative effects. That’s why it’s important not to completely demonize specific foods, and focus more on a good overall dietary pattern.

Creating a dietary pattern for a healthy microbiome

In today’s video, we cover the important things to eat and limit for a healthy gut microbiome. If you want to improve your gut microbiome, this is where most of your efforts should lie.

We cover how various aspects of your diet are important for overall gut health and that of your microbiome. Check it out!

  • (00:00) Intro to the gut microbiome
  • (6:21) How do we feed them?
  • (13:31) Review paper: Rethinking healthy eating in light of the gut microbiome
  • (16:25) Whole foods vs Ultra-processed foods
  • (25:00) Recommended foods vs Red & processed meats/full fat diary
  • (34:36) What the data shows we should eat
  • (43:06) What if the food recs make me ill?
  • (46:30) How to build a healthy gut microbiome

If you’d like to check out an excellent paper on the topic, we recommend you check out Rethinking healthy eating in light of the gut microbiome, which we cover in the video.

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