improve your internal microbiome

How to improve your internal microbiome

Food, Nutrology

A few weeks ago we described the microbiome and its importance for good health. These trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that mostly inhabit our large intestine are essential for good health. A healthy microbiome helps control our weight, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, immune response, and even our mood.

In general, the greater the number and diversity of the microorganisms inside us, the better. We want diversity—many different types of microorganisms—because each type has a potential health benefit. The more types we have living inside us, the greater the number of benefits we obtain.

What we eat and the medications we take influence our microbiome. Here are some things you can do to maximize your internal “ecology”. Some of the microbes in our microbiome are beneficial (such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria) and other types are not so good (such as Enterobacteria and Clostridium). By eating well, we maximize the good microbes and decrease the number of potentially harmful ones.

To improve your microbiome

  1. Eat a diverse diet

Don’t eat the same thing every day. The wider the variety of foods you eat, the greater the diversity of your microbiome.

  1. Minimize both sugar and artificial sweeteners

High sugar foods and simple carbohydrates (such as white bread) have a strong negative influence on our microbiome ecology. Artificial sweeteners have been shown to have a similar negative effect, though not as severe as sugar. For the best microbiome, train your taste so you can enjoy foods and drinks (such as coffee) that are unsweetened or minimally sweetened.

  1. Take antibiotics only when truly necessary

Oral antibiotics can severely disrupt your microbiome, and the effects can last for many months after stopping them. Antibiotics may help kill your infection, but as a side effect they kill many of the healthy microbes in our gut.

Many people ask for—or are given—antibiotics, when they really don’t need them, for example, for a viral infection. Antibiotics don’t help viral infections and may only bring problems. Question your doctor carefully about this, and don’t be quick to ask for antibiotics.

  1. Prebiotics: high fiber foods.

Foods with lots of fiber are considered “prebiotics”. These fibers we cannot digest, but the bacteria in our large intestine can, and use them for food. Well-fed microbes are able to do their work for us, producing vitamins or nutrients or decreasing inflammation.

  1. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains

Besides having lots of fiber, eating more plant-based food and less meat has been shown to promote the growth of healthier intestinal microbes, and minimize the harmful strains. Some of the best for your microbiome: broccoli, beans, lentils, whole grains (like oats), garlic, leek.

  1. High polyphenol foods

Polyphenols are super-healthy compounds contained in plants, and act like antioxidants. However, some of these are not “bioavailable” without help from intestinal microbes. It works the other way too—polyphenols support the growth of the good strains of microbes. Some of the best foods for this: red wine, coffee, green tea, cocoa, dark chocolate, onions, garlic.

  1. Fermented foods

These are great for your microbiome—yogurt (best natural, unsweetened, with active cultures), kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, pickled vegetables, miso, and tempeh.

  1. Consider probiotics

You can buy supplements containing micobiome organisms, but it is controversial if they help healthy people (they may not survive the acidic journey to your small intestine). They are believed to be most helpful however in special circumstances, such as when taking antibiotics, or when recovering from diarrhea.

Side effects of better microbiome

The more of these things you do, the healthier will be your microbiome. The only side effect is that some people get bloating or gas, especially if you make too many changes quickly. Go slow with these dietary improvements to let your body adapt.

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See also in ProcuraMed:

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Coconut oil: seven questions and answers

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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