There seems to be an ever-expanding pool of research indicating that your gut health can influence how you think, feel, and function.
But if you want to have a chance at the benefits, you have to give it what it needs.
The magic that fuels your guts action is not magic at all. It’s bugs. Tiny little microorganisms that colonize and reside in your intestine. There are good ones and bad ones, and the overall population is known as your microbiome.
There are more than 100 trillion of them inside you.
Ideally, you want the good ones to make up the majority of the population. And although you don’t have full control over the population you’ve got, you do have significant power.
Think of them as pets to take care of.
You may have heard of probiotics and prebiotics. These are recognized as two essential food groups that cultivate a healthy microbiome.
Probiotics are good bacteria that can be added to the population. They are found in foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, papaya, and other fermented foods.
Not all of these foods will have probiotic benefits. It really depends on how much processing they have undergone. When these foods are cooked or heated too much, the organisms and their benefits die.
That’s why supplementation may help.
But probiotics, or any healthy bacteria, can’t survive and thrive without prebiotics. Prebiotics are essentially fiber-rich foods, and healthy gut bacteria love them. That means that plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains can give your microbiome what it needs.
The potential result of prebiotics is a flourishing healthy microbiome.
Of course, the Standard Western Diet, rich in refined carbohydrates, processed food, and low in fiber, does little to encourage gut health. In fact, it can help unhealthy microbes proliferate that may contribute to poor mood, inflammatory conditions, and more.
Trying to include more probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet might help improve the condition and functionality of your microbiome. But consistency is required. Try to get at least one of each per meal, while boosting overall intake of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains in place of processed foods.
Good things can happen when your gut is happy. Take care of it and it should take care of you.