Gut microbiome is the name given to the bacteria, viruses, and fungi living in your gut. A balanced diversity of these microbes is beneficial to your health, helping your body perform its many functions and maintain optimal well-being.
Gut microbiome starts to develop the moment you are born, however, over time your gut microbiome experiences major changes, and various environmental factors are responsible for that. One of which – the biggest one - is your diet.
Logically, all the foods that you eat go through your gut, which is the system that distributes to the rest of the body what it needs and filters out and eliminates the rest. In this article, we’ll talk about how your diet affects your gut microbiome.
Diet Determines What Lives In Your Gut
Each individual has a unique gut microbiome, and the type of diet you choose determines what kinds of microbes thrive in your gut. For instance, studies have shown that those whose diets are mainly plant-based have more anti-inflammatory bacteria in their gut. This means that their gut microbiome can better combat harmful inflammation that could otherwise lead to diseases.
Studies have also shown that diet can change the type of microbes in your gut in as quickly as 24 hours. However, to make a lasting change, you must eat a healthy diet consistently. Otherwise, your gut microbiome would return to the flora that is supported by the prevailing diet.
Diet Helps Maintain Proper Gut Microbiome Functions
The food that you eat feeds the bacteria that are thriving in your gut. So, your diet has an essential role in keeping the diversity of the gut microbiome so that it will function properly. For this reason, it is best to have a varied and balanced diet to promote a healthy gut microbiome. It is also best to keep your diet diverse, instead of routine or predictable, because it helps to keep the gut microbiome diverse as well.
Foods You Must Include In Your Diet For A Healthy Gut Microbiome
Having said that your diet is responsible for keeping a healthy gut microbiome, let’s get into the types of foods that you must include in a balanced diet.
Prebiotics is one of the main diet elements that are widely studied when it comes to gut health. Prebiotics refers to food ingredients that are indigestible and are essential to the growth of certain species of bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics can be found in vegetables, fruits, and cereals. Some of these that you can include in your diet are garlic, asparagus, leeks, bananas, apples, and almonds.
Probiotics are live microorganisms, which can help restore the balance of bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are especially recommended when you experience infections, are taking antibiotics, have been eating poor diets, and are experiencing lots of stress. Probiotics can be found in yogurts, fermented milk, and supplements.
You’ve probably heard many times already that you must eat fiber-rich foods for your gut health. Fibers help keep your digestive health in shape by keeping your bowel movements regular and keeping your colon cells healthy. Otherwise, you may experience constipation, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, bloating, or gas. Oats, fruits, legumes, vegetables, wheat, and seeds are rich in fiber. Just remember not to eat too much fiber because it could have adverse effects.
While there is still little scientific evidence, fermented foods are said to be good for gut health as well. Fermented foods, such as kombucha and Korean kimchi, can help increase the diversity of bacteria in the gut. Kefir, yogurt, miso, and sauerkraut are some of the fermented foods that are touted to be good for gut health. Experts, however, warn not to rely on fermented foods alone in keeping your gut healthy.
Your gut is what processes the foods that you eat. However, it can only do its needed tasks in accordance with how well you feed it, so it is essential to keep your diet healthy and balanced. Too much processed and artificially-sweetened food can destroy the balance of good and bad bacteria. A healthy diet with the above inclusions will help maintain your gut microbiome in the best condition possible.
How Gut Bacteria Affects Your Weight
The past decade has shed light on the role of the gut microbiome in human’s overall health. Gut microbiome pertains to the collective bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in our gut. Ten years ago, few of us were aware of just how significant they are in affecting our health, other than helping with food digestion.
More recently, studies have shown that they play a crucial role in keeping us healthy. So, you might be wondering, can gut bacteria make you fat or thin? How can they affect your weight?
Digesting Food That You Eat
The gut is one of the main contacts of your body to the outside world—all the foods that you eat passes through it. The primary purpose of the gut microbiome, then, is to break down the foods into tiny molecules, small enough to enter the bloodstream and distribute the nutrients. Unbroken pieces are excreted out of the body as waste.
Studies have shown that certain types of gut bacteria help break down particular types of food. Low levels of such bacteria, therefore, can affect how you digest food and store energy in the body, leading to weight gain.
Gut bacteria also play a role in producing hormones that affect your feeling of fullness or hunger, such as leptin, ghrelin, and peptide YY. For example, when certain types of bacteria break down fiber, they also produce chemicals such as propionate, which can affect how much of these hormones are produced. Studies showed that those who take propionate supplements experienced reduced appetite and were able to reduce their food intake and weight gain.
Your gut health plays an important part in keeping your immunity active. When you eat an unhealthy diet, it causes an imbalance in the gut microbiome, prompting an increase in inflammatory chemicals. Too much sugar, fat, and calories can lead to weight gain, and increased inflammation can lead to insulin resistance. Some species of bacteria, however, can ease inflammation, reducing insulin resistance and weight gain.
What You Can Do To Support Good Gut Bacteria Growth
When you’re trying to lose weight, but all your efforts have been for naught or have shown little progress so far, the answer might be lying in your gut microbiome makeup. Trillions of bacteria live in your gut, and what you need is to maintain active populations of the good bacteria that can help you lose weight.
How do you do that?
One way is to eat more fiber. Fiber can help keep a diverse gut microbiome, which is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. You can find fiber in whole grains, some fruits, and vegetables. You must also avoid sugary foods, because some bacteria thrive on sugar, making you feel hungrier and craving for more sugar. Instead, eat foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and legumes. Also, boost your diet with healthy fats, such as the omega-3 fatty acids that you can find in oily fish.
Some foods you can eat for a healthy gut include the following:
• Nuts and seeds
• Dark chocolate
• Green tea
• Red wine
Avoid or reduce your intake of the following foods, which can negatively affect the diversity of your gut microbiome:
• Red meat
• Artificial sweeteners
• Processed foods
Aside from being mindful of what you eat, it is also essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Get moving and exercise regularly. Physical workouts can help reduce the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria in your stomach, which can affect how you lose or gain weight.
Gut Health And Obesity
Millions of people suffer from obesity, and for many, it’s very hard to manage. Gut health and obesity are a relatively new field of research. More still needs to be done to make conclusions as to how gut bacteria can help treat obesity, but the future looks promising. Understanding how certain species of bacteria affect weight may lead to better, personalized treatments.
Listen To Your Gut
If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy one, take a look at your gut health. Pay heed to the signs of an unhealthy gut microbiome, such as upset stomach, indigestion, gas, and bloating. Then, pay attention to what you eat. If you haven’t been eating healthy foods, it’s time to make a shift and get the ideal body that you’ve always wanted.