No Guts, No Glory: Two Tips to Diversify Your Microbiome

The Physicians Committee
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No Guts, No Glory: Two Tips to Diversify Your Microbiome

By Meghan Jardine, M.S., M.B.A., R.D., L.D., C.D.E.

gut-bacteria-diversityResearch continues to show what we consume—from foods to medications—influences the composition and diversity of our microbiome, which does everything from regulate our metabolism and mood to influence long-term risk for Parkinson’s disease.

You may have read that beer and chocolate are on the gut-friendly list. Here are two ways you can use today’s latest research to your advantage, without caving in to those tempting headlines! (Remember, too much of these foods can have the reverse effect.)

Gut Hack 1: Fill up with fiber.

Prebiotics are fermentable fibers that change the composition and activity of the microbiota, which provides health benefits to the human “host.” The best sources contain nondigestible oligosaccharides and resistant starches that are only available in plant-based foods.

Plant-Based Prebiotics:

  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Chicory root
  • Raw dandelion greens
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
  • Banana
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Soybeans
  • Tomatoes
  • Berries
  • Flaxseeds

Gut Hack 2: Add fermented foods.

Fermented foods contain live microorganisms that resist digestion. They flourish once they reach our digestive tract and provide us with additional health benefits. They feed off prebiotics and may help with weight loss, the prevention of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and even mood disorders.

Plant-Based Probiotics:

  • Tempeh (a fermented soybean product)
  • Soy sauce
  • Miso
  • Water kefir
  • Kombucha

To foster a healthy and diverse microbiome, make sure you include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in your diet. Steer clear of inflammatory foods, like red meat, oils, fried foods, sugar, and cheese, to make sure your digestive tract has an easy time doing its job.

Are you simply looking for tips to help you make the best choices at the grocery store? Here’s a list of plant-based staples to help get you started.

Let us know what you think. Share your favorite gut-friendly meals on social media with #PlantBasedRx.