You may not know it, but your gut is home to trillions of microscopic critters “mostly bacteria” that boost your overall health by controlling digestion, fortifying your immune system, maintaining your central nervous system and other bodily processes.
These legions make up what’s known as your microbiome, and it plays an important role in your overall health.
If the 1,000 or so different species of bacteria in your stomach are not getting the right foods, they will suffer and so can your health as a result.
That’s why it’s important to eat the right foods for your microbiome buddies, and there are two types of food you should know about:
These are fibrous foods that stimulate growth of microbes already in your gut.
This is essentially fuel for your microbiome.
Prebiotic-rich foods include most fruits and vegetables. And the good bacteria in your stomach thrive on the fiber in these foods. It is their sustenance.
And if your microbiome is getting fed what it needs, it can stave off gastrointestinal problems, and more.
Prebiotic-rich foods include:
- Most greens
- Whole grains
These are foods that contain live microbes that will make a home in your gut.
Probiotics will deliver “good” bacteria to your gut. It’s like a nice new family joining the neighborhood. They are known as “good” bacteria as they compete for space and food against harmful bacteria and prevent them from settling in the gut.
Probiotics help create and keep a healthy balance in your digestive system. You can suffer gastrointestinal problems if this balance breaks down, which it can through:
- Taking a course of antibiotics
- Eating a diet lacking nutrient-rich food
- An overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria
Many people take probiotic supplements, but you should research which one is best for what you want to accomplish. You can get probiotics from a number of different foods like in the box below.
Probiotic-rich foods include:
- Yogurt with live culture
- Kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables)
- Kombucha tea
- Miso (a paste made from fermented, seasoned soybeans)
- Brine- or water-cured olives