Did you know your body has more than 100 trillion bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, and parasites that make up your “microbiome”? These microscopic organisms, which live throughout the body and are concentrated in the gut, play an important role in our health. Some of the benefits of a healthy microbiome include good digestion and absorption of nutrients, decreased inflammation, and a stronger immune system. Keeping your microbiome healthy can have implications for overall health, management of chronic disease like diabetes, and more!
Although this area of research is still new, all evidence is pointing to the importance of fostering a healthy brood of “bugs,” with plenty of variety.
So, how can we keep our microbiome healthy?
Eat lots of fiber and plants
The organisms in our microbiome eat something called “prebiotics,” which are naturally present in certain foods. Foods which are particularly high in prebiotics: asparagus, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, apples, soybeans, bananas, and oats. Any food naturally high in fiber will help to nourish our microbiome, so focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes (beans and lentils).
Eat more whole foods
What do we mean by “whole foods?” This is a term used to describe foods that are close to their natural state. For example, an apple versus applesauce. Which is more “whole?” The apple! Similarly, it is recommend to eat less processed foods, and foods lower in sugar and white flour. Highly processed junk foods feed the wrong kind of bugs in our guts, which necessarily reduces the amount of good bugs since space is limited.
Eat good bacteria
By including fermented and cultured food such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso, unsweetened yogurt, and kefir in the diet, we can support a healthy microbiome. These foods contain live, healthy “bugs.” It’s like adding more players to your microbiome team.
Do you have more questions about the microbiome? If you’re already using Brook, open the app and mosey on over to the Brook Expert channel. Not on Brook yet? Come join the community at Brook and get on the path to a happier, healthier you.
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Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN
on March 10, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.