Not surprisingly, good bacteria love healthy whole, organic, plant-based foods, ones that are high in fiber and nutrients and contain no artificial ingredients. One of the biggest questions I get when I tell people to eat more fiber is, “What are good sources of fiber?” Below, I’ve put together a partial list of foods filled with fiber and foods to feed your gut.
You won’t be surprised to know that the foods and other edible substances that damage everything else about our health are also no good for our microbiome. It’s the usual suspects:
What we put on our bodies also affects our guts. Taking antibiotics can alter our gut health for the worse, and so can using antibiotic-based products. Avoid the following:
Foods made from coconut are good for our gut microbes. One such food—taken as a supplement—is medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil derived from coconut oil. This dramatically reduces intestinal inflammation and helps eliminate bad bugs.
Five years ago, nobody knew they had a microbiome. Today, we’re obsessed with it. That may be a slight exaggeration, but the health of the community of microbes living in and on our bodies—100 trillion single-cell organisms, outnumbering human cells 10 to 1—has become a top priority. With good reason: Our gut bacteria regulate many of our bodily functions, from creating vitamins to controlling our immune system, our brain function and of course, our metabolism and weight. They are critical to our long-term health.
Stage 1 – Weed
In order for our body to flourish and thrive, we need to ‘weed out’ pathogenic microorganisms and improve the immune system. Antimicrobial herbs, clean eating and keeping your pH levels within a healthy range will ensure these nasty critters are eliminated from your body.
Eliminate caffeine, smoking, alcohol and sugary, fatty foods to ensure proper detoxification. Drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, make yourself some homemade vegetable juices and treat yourself to regular massages to help the process along. Each stage of the detox typically lasts two weeks, ensuring a thorough cleanse.
A proper detoxification program needs to be thorough and holistic and will take at least six weeks to complete. Throughout a detox, it is important to keep your diet as clean, wholesome and healthy as possible.
Stage 2 – Seed
This involves renewing the gut with beneficial bacteria and healing the lining of the intestinal wall. Not all probiotics are the same. They differ between species and strain. A naturopath will be able to help you determine which probiotic is most suitable for you.
Stage 3 – Feed
The final stage is all about nourishing and restoring the eliminatory organs and involves foods and herbs that have supportive and nourishing effects.
To assist with chewing, try putting down your cutlery between mouthfuls and aim to chew each mouthful until it’s a puree (aim for at least 20 chews!).
Similar to a rent agreement, our gut provides certain bacteria a home (and food – they happily eat the leftover fibre from our diet as it makes its way through our gut!), and in return these ‘good’ strains of bugs do handy biological work for us. Whether boosting our immunity, assisting digestion, or producing certain nutrients, some of which can help strengthen our gut. Supporting optimal digestion, in conjunction with a largely well-balanced nourishing diet, can help look after these ‘good’ bugs, and in turn our health.
When there’s delicious food around, it can be all to easy to quickly gobble it down, without taking the time chew properly. However, digestion really begins in the mouth. Chewing food causes the release of saliva, which contains digestive enzymes that will begin to break down parts of our meal. Chewing also helps turn larger bits of food into smaller ones, which really gives a helping hand to our digestive system later down the track. Remember, there are no teeth in our stomach!
Breaking down our food from larger to smaller particles increases the surface area of our food, helping prepare it for nutrient absorption in our small intestines.
In today’s face-paced, tech-savvy environment, eating with intent is a practice many of us are out of touch with. We often inhale our foods (chew, swallow, chew, swallow), while scrolling through Instagram, typing away at our desk or chilling with Netflix. No matter how great we believe we are at multi-tasking, our gut much prefers when we take the time to sit, focus on and enjoy food in front of us.