3 Foods That Are Great for Your Microbiome

Your body contains various systems that help it survive and thrive. Some of the most well-known include your skeletal, cardiovascular, reproductive and digestive systems. For these systems to function optimally, they need to be healthy and well-balanced. Your digestive system is particularly sensitive to microbial imbalances. It contains a microbiome that needs to be fed with healthy, nutrient-rich foods in order to do its job well.

Your microbiome is a community of microorganisms that’s found within your digestive system. It includes bacteria, fungi, protists, archaea and viruses. The body is dependent on the microorganisms within the digestive system to regulate immune function, digest food, and keep it healthy against bacteria known to cause diseases. Here are three foods that can help strengthen your microbiome.

1. Vegetables 

Vegetables make the top of the list for microbiome-healthy foods. Veggies are high in fiber, which feeds desirable gut bacteria. When you feed good bacteria, you help them to grow stronger in health and number. If you starve the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system from the nutrients they need, you give bad bacteria an opportunity to overwhelm the good bacteria. This can cause a dangerous gut imbalance that weakens the immune response and contributes to illness and disease.

Here are a few suggestions for vegetables that can strengthen your microbiome when included in your regular diet.

  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Radishes
  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic
  • Broccoli

Keep in mind that most vegetables are hard for the body to digest when consumed raw. This is especially true for cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli. To avoid irritating your digestive system and causing your abdomen to bloat, make sure you cook your vegetables prior to eating them.

It’s also a good idea to fill your diet with plenty of color. While green vegetables are a popular choice for health, you should also eat other colorful veggies as well.

2. Fruits 

Like vegetables, fruits are also essential for good microbiome health. In fact, research shows you may be able to prevent some disease-causing bacteria from growing in your body if you eat a diet that’s high in vegetables and fruits.

Here is a list of fruits that have been shown to increase beneficial bacteria in humans.

  • Blueberries
  • raspberries
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Coconut
  • Grapefruit
  • Rhubarb
  • Nectarines
  • Avocado

As with vegetables, you should aim to include different fruit colors in your daily diet. If you have a sweet tooth, replacing starchy sweets and sugary candies with fruit is a great way to satisfy your cravings while protecting your microbiome health.

3. Fermented Foods 

Fermented foods are foods that have been changed by microbes. Yeast and/or bacteria are involved in the process of creating most fermented foods. During the process of fermentation, the natural sugars found within the food are converted to alcohol or organic acids. They often contain lactobacilli as well, which is a desirable type of gut bacteria.

Here are some of the most popular types of fermented foods people like to eat.

  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Yogurt
  • Tempeh
  • Kombucha

Studies show that people who eat fermented foods, such as yogurt, tend to have more lactobacilli in their digestive systems than those who don’t eat these foods. Higher levels of lactobacilli are also associated with decreased numbers of Enterobacteriaceae, which are harmful to health.

Though yogurt contains beneficial bacteria, you should also know that most types of yogurt are high in sugar. Since sugar feeds unhealthy gut bacteria, it’s important to avoid heavily sweetened yogurt. Instead, choose yogurt that is plain and natural. You can add berries to it for sweetening purposes.

Strengthen Your Microbiome  

Now that you know how important your microbiome is to your overall health, make sure you feed it well. Choose more of the above three foods and limit your consumption of highly processed, sweetened foods to obtain optimal digestive health.

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