We know that our microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria; some beneficial and others not so much. There are the Firmicutes, the "bad" kind of bacteria, and the Bacteroidetes, the beneficial bacteria. Both types of bacteria are present in your gut, and depending on your diet, you might have more of one kind over the other. This is because the food we eat feeds these bacteria, and certain types of foods will feed Firmicutes (think red meat, sugar, and other fatty foods), while other foods feed Bacteroidetes. For this post, we will focus on those foods that help increase the number of good bacteria in your gut, which in turn will improve your overall health.
Here are 6 foods you should eat to improve your gut health:
- Bananas: This fruit is full of soluble fiber, which is what the good bugs feed on. Bananas are considered a prebiotic, fuel for the beneficial bacteria.
- Greek Yogurt: Yogurt with live and active cultures is a great source of probiotics, the good bacteria. By eating yogurt, you add the good Bacteroidetes to your gut. Make sure the label says "live and active cultures" and keep it refrigerated. And be sure to aim for fewer than 15 grams of sugar per serving; sugar can feed the bad bugs in your gut.
- Kefir: Kefir is a fermented version of yogurt, and it is full of healthy, living bacteria that contributes to our microbiome by delivering good bacteria and also helping the synthesis of vitamins B12 and K, therefore contributing to improved gut health. Kefir is 99.9% lactose free, so for those allergic to dairy, this is a good alternative source of probiotics.
- Kombucha: This fermented, fizzy black tea with a tangy taste is filled with beneficial bacteria to coat your digestive tract. In addition probiotic benefits, the fermentation process also creates healthy B vitamins for energy.
- Sourdough Bread: This bread is made with a lactic acid starter that contains strains of Lactobacillus, a beneficial type of bacteria that adds good microbes to your gut. Lactobacillus is one of the most common types of probiotics.
- Dark Chocolate: This is not too good to be true! Research has shown that the bacteria within our GI tract can efficiently ferment chocolate and even produce anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart! The good microbes, such as Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria, feast on chocolate and lessen inflammation. Look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content.