As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” In recent years, this has become even more apparent. Scientists have started to unravel the secrets of the human microbiome.
As most of us know, we all have trillions of bacteria living in our gut. We also have fungi and viruses in our intestines. These microbes have an enormous impact on our health, both positive and negative. So it’s in our interests to maintain a healthy and balanced microbiome.
Our microbiome develops with us depending on our birth route, geography, and environmental hygiene. As the microbiome develops, the immune system adapts, learning which bacteria to ignore and which to eliminate. As we reach adulthood, our microbiome should stabilize. However, drugs, stress, and diet/nutrition can destabilize the microbiome, possibly causing symptoms.
A stable microbiome contains bacteria that help digest food and produce health-promoting substances like vitamins. The intestinal environment of a stable microbiome also helps prevent dangerous microbes from causing illness. Microbes can even produce materials that alter gene expression, many times for our benefit. This is the symbiotic nature of the microbiome.
Scientists are still researching how gut bacteria affect our health. They know that different ratios of bacterial types are correlated with health conditions. Many scientists have studied the relationship between bacteria and both obesity and diabetes. Researchers often link poor health to microbiomes with limited diversity, a problem resolved through food and supplements.
Your microbiome relies on the food you eat. So the stability of the microbiome can depend on your diet pattern. Even healthy changes, done too quickly, can disrupt your digestive health. Gut health and microbiome care call for a nutrition care plan and the guidance of a Bellevue, Washington, dietitian.
Nutrition Care Plan Tips
Here are some tips from your Bellevue, Washington, dietician for nutrition to improve your gut health.
- Bulk up on fruit and vegetables – Both are high in the nutrients our bacteria need to thrive. A diet pattern with 8-10 servings of vegetables and fruits daily helps many people balance their microbiome and improve their digestive health. It’s best if crunchy and leafy vegetables take up half our fruit and vegetable servings.
- Include fermented food in your diet – fermented food contains naturally cultured bacteria that can help stabilize and balance your microbiome. These foods include yogurt, miso, and sauerkraut. While foods with live bacterial cultures might be best, fermented foods without live bacteria are still beneficial.
- Take it easy on the simple sugars – Bacteria and fungi often love carbohydrates, particularly sugar. A diet high in sugar may overfeed the microbiome, leading to dysbiosis or overgrowth. You might be particularly aware of the symptoms if your diet suddenly includes lots of sugar.
- Eat more fiber – bacteria typically depend on fiber for nutrition. Our digestive tract absorbs most other nutrients before they reach the colon, where most microbes reside. The typical American eats less than half of the recommended fiber intake. Boost this with beans, lentils, tempeh, whole wheat bulger, raspberries, and collard greens. Fiber supplements are helpful, but fiber with every meal is best.
A stable and healthy microbiome is essential for good health. We rely on the microbiome in many ways. Start improving your gut health today by changing your diet pattern. Your Bellevue, Washington, dietitian has a nutrition care plan for you.