It is that time of year where we all think we are going to do better. Whether you do New Year resolution or not here is an article with suggestions that I think will help support your efforts…
How to Eat for a Healthy Gut: The Microbiome Diet
Seen the headlines? We are not alone! We share our bodies with trillions of microbes. The majority live in our guts, and these tiny critters play a key role in keeping us healthy.
Science is still piecing it all together. But the initial insights are intriguing. Our gut microbes fight off intruders, help digest food, make vitamins, prep and protect our immune systems. Recent research points to an association between the microbiome and behavior, including mood and emotions, as well as to links between our gut microbes and disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and autism.
Taking care of our microbes helps them take care of us. We can start by being good hosts: feeding our friendly microbial guests what they’re hungry for — lots of fresh produce, whole grains, fermented foods — and by staying away from refined sugars. Here are 8 ways to eat for a healthy gut, along with top-rated Microbiome Diet recipes.
Eat a Wide Variety of Plants, Fruits, and Veggies
1. Sound familiar? There’s really nothing new about this advice. Just like their human hosts, the beneficial bacteria that make up our microbiome thrive on a diversity of fiber-rich plants and fruits. So go big on bananas, beans, onions, leeks, oats, whole grains, nuts, avocados, leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus; and fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut. The key is variety because it seems that different types of fiber benefit certain bacteria, which in turn benefit the body in specific ways.
2. Don’t Overcook the Veggies
Soft, overcooked veggies are quickly digested. Leave a little crunch, and the microbes down the line have more to munch on.
3. Chomp on More of the Plant
Eat further down the veggie stalks and stems, not just the soft tips and florets. Your gut will thank you. A healthy, happy gut may actually boost our sense of well being, since gut microbes, along with their other tasks, also assist in processing mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin.
4. Eat Fermented and Cultured Foods
Enjoy yogurt for breakfast, a little sauerkraut on sandwiches and salads for lunch, and this homemade kimchi with grilled or roasted meats.
5. Give an A+ to Artichokes, Asparagus, and Avocados
These fiber-rich foods earn top marks. Also, don’t forget about Jerusalem artichokes. Full Disclosure: Jerusalem artichokes are not really from Jerusalem; they’re not even artichokes. But despite the fibs, the truth is, they’re among the gut-friendliest of foods.
6. Be Keen for Greens
Your good bacteria love the fiber in kale, spinach, bok choy, and other leafy greens.
7. Seek Out Leeks
Leeks are legendary for helping promote good gut health. Watch Chef John make his simple Sexy Fish Stew with lots of leeks, shallots, and fennel bulbs.
8. And, Finally, a Word About Kraut
Sauerkraut’s not just for hot dogs. Sneak this fabulous fermented food into summer salads and stir-fries, and onto sandwiches, pork chops, even your scrambled eggs.
Why is dietary fiber good for us? As we’ve said, when we eat dietary fiber, we’re feeding the critters in our guts. The billions of bacteria benefit first by feeding on the fiber that’s indigestible to humans. Healthy gut microbes lead to a healthier gut, which translates to a healthier immune system. Also, after the bacteria in the gut break down the fiber, they leave behind short-chain fatty acids, which keep the cells of the intestines healthy and may help calm aggressive immune system responses. Diets rich in dietary fiber may also help defeat obesity and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, along with immune disorders like irritable bowel syndrome. For a slightly more in-depth look at the health benefits of eating fiber-rich foods, check out Learning More about Fiber’s Benefits in The New York Times.