Microbes play a significant role in hosting our immune system and by increasing the number and diversity of microbes in our guts, we may reduce our risk for obesity and a variety of other diseases. Stress, aging, infection, and a poor diet all negatively affect the gut microbiome but there are things we can do to make sure our gut health is in check.
In their book, “The Good Gut”, Drs. Justin and Erica Sonnenburg suggest that diet is one our most powerful tools for improving our gut microbiota. First of all, make sure you are getting adequate fiber. The average person consumes 15 grams of fiber when at least double that is recommended. Microbes feed on dietary fiber, also known as prebiotics, which help sustain your current gut bacteria by providing them the foods they need to thrive. Aim for at least 5 cups of fruits/vegetables a day, add beans to your menu and switch to whole grain bread, cereal, crackers and pasta. Next, add fermented foods and those containing probiotics (good bacteria) to your shopping cart. We’ve discovered some delicious options in the grocery aisles:
- GoodBelly® – A tasty beverage with live and active cultures. Find it in the refrigerated juice case.
- Kombucha – Made from tea, clean water, sugar, yeast, and bacteria, kombucha has become popular for its probiotic qualities.
- Kevita® – Sparkling probiotic beverages that provide a light and refreshing fruit taste.
- Kefir – A yogurt-like beverage found with the traditional yogurt products.
- Tropicana Essentials Probiotics® – Strawberry Banana 100% juice blend with no added sugars.
- Activia® – Probiotic yogurt in a variety of flavors.
- Kimchi – This spicy Asian fermented cabbage, similar to sauerkraut, provides you with loads of probiotics.
- Tempeh – Made from soybeans and a yeast starter, it undergoes controlled fermentation that makes it a great source of probiotic bacteria.
- Sauerkraut and Pickles
These probiotic and fermented foods will help restore balance to your intestinal ecosystem and aid digestion. Along with an adequate intake of fiber-containing prebiotic foods, you will be on your way to a happy, healthy gut!