Research on nutrition and chronic disease has focused on hot topics such as eggs and cholesterol or low fruit/vegetable consumption and obesity. What if I told you that the community of different bacteria living in your gut (ie. intestinal microbiota) may have a significant impact on your health?
Supplements such as Total Restore by Gundry MD focus entirely on ensuring good health for the gut. By having good gut health, you can become more energised, maintain better weight and more.
That’s right. In 2007, the National Institutes of Health started the Human Microbiome Project in order to learn more about the different strains of bacteria that live within the human body. (source) A huge undertaking when you realize that there are up to 100 trillion different types of “good” bacteria that live in and on humans! (source) Our GI tract is home to thousands of strains of bacteria, all of which perform dozens of important functions including:
- Synthesis of vitamins – folate, B12, and K
- Lowered toxigenic (ie. potentially cancerous) reactions
- Lower serum cholesterol through bile salt deconjugation
- Improved immune function of the gut by creation of protective barrier
- Synthesis of short chain fatty acids (act as fuel for intestinal cells)
- Improved lactose tolerance
- Potential improvement in antibiotic associated diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome
- Balanced intestinal microbiota (source)
As a result of the Human Microbiome Project, we are realizing that the specific types of gut bacteria may also play a role in one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer, or obesity. The question is whether a person’s diet or their disease effects the type of bacteria in their gut. We do know that a healthy diet can play a large role in the composition of gut bacteria, especially foods high in probiotics, ie live beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus and lactobacillus rhamnosis. The following is a list of some foods naturally high in probiotics to add to your diet and help promote the beneficial functions listed above.
- Yogurt: Choose full fat plain yogurt instead of flavored varieties which often are full of sugar. Kefir, which is similar to yogurt, is also high in probiotics.
- Tempeh and miso: Both of these products are made from fermented soy beans. Tempeh is a patty of pressed fermented soybeans which has a nutty flavor and chewy texture. I love adding it to stir fries or other recipes like stuffed peppers. Miso is often sold as a thick paste that can be stirred into soup.
- Cheese: Mostly found in soft or fermented cheeses such as Gouda, cheddar, or Swiss.
- Kombucha: Growing in popularity of late, kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that offers a healthy dose of probiotics.
- Sauerkraut: If you can handle the intense flavor of this fermented cabbage, then you will reap the benefits of the probiotics it contains!
- Dill Pickles: Choose varieties that have been minimally processed and are preserved using salt and water rather than vinegar.
Of course, there are a few other that didn’t make the list such as buttermilk, olives (fermented in salt rather than vinegar), and various other foods with added probiotics from the manufacturer.