Did you know that your digestive tract is home to trillions of bacteria, collectively called your gut micro-biota, that help keep you well?
The bacteria in your gut contribute to your overall health. When you have a healthy gut, digestion works smoothly. A healthy gut may also contribute to your overall health and well-being by strengthening immunity, protecting you from harmful organisms, and influencing hormones, energy level, and mood. Eating certain foods is one of the fastest and easiest ways to influence gut microbiota.
While there’s still more research to do, there are a few things the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation (CDHF) can confidently recommend to promote digestive health. Enjoy an overall healthy diet with a variety of gut-friendly foods, such as:
Many of us don’t get enough fibre in our diet (25 to 38 grams per day). Prebiotic fibres are found in foods such as plant-based proteins, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and vegetables. Fill up half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner each day and choose whole grains rather than refined grains.
Fermentation is the process that turns milk into cheese and yogurt. Naturally-occurring microbes found in pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir can increase the diversity of healthy bacteria in your gut, lower your body weight, and improve your blood pressure.
Probiotics may come in pill form but can also be found in certain foods. When taken in the right amounts, they improve certain aspects of our health. They can help us digest fibre, maintain health, and help manage certain digestive conditions. Be sure to consult with your doctor or dietitian about whether a probiotic supplement is right for you.
Vegetables and fruits provide fibre to feed your gut microbiota. Focusing on whole foods provides your gut microbiota with what it needs and keeps your body healthy, too.