5 Ways to Boost Your Gut Microbiome
Last week you learned 5 things you can remove from your diet and lifestyle to reduce gut dysbiosis (click here if you missed it), but this was just the first part. Remember, there are 2 parts to balancing your gut and creating a healthy microbiome. First, you’ve got to reduce overgrowth of the bad bacteria (i.e. reduce the dysbiosis in your gut). Second, you’ve got to increase the good bacteria and improve the quality of your gut microbiome. Remember the ‘gut garden’ analogy..when it’s overgrown (in dysbiosis), you’ve got weeds all over the place and they’re stopping all your nice flowers from growing. To fix it, you’d first prune back all of the weeds (the bad bacteria) and then work on planting new flowers and feeding them so they grow nice and healthily (the good bacteria).
If you’re still wondering what the gut microbiome is and why it’s so important, have a read of this first.
In this post, we’re going to talk about the second part - boosting the good bacteria and improving your gut microbiome. You’ll discover 5 things that you can add into your diet to boost the good bacteria and grow a healthy gut. They’re concrete things that you can start on straight away!
5 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR GUT MICROBIOME
1. EAT LOTS OF SOLUBLE FIBRE
Before you go putting lots of new good bacteria back into your gut, your need to focus on the good bacteria that are already in there. You want to build these up and make them as healthy as possible. If we go back to the garden analogy, you don’t want to start planting lots of new flowers, before you’ve made sure you’ve made sure your soil and existing plants are as healthy as possible.
This is where fibre comes in, as it’s the ‘food’ for your good gut bacteria. It’s the stuff they love to eat. When they don’t have enough of it, not only are they weaker, but they start to eat the lining of your intestines instead, which breaks down your gut and causes all sorts of problems.
Soluble fibre is found in vegetables, fruit, oats, barley, flax seed, peas, onions, garlic, leeks and asparagus. So, try to get as much of these foods into your diet as possible. However, be wary that lots of these foods are high in FODMAPs (learn more about the low FODMAP Diet here), which means they can be quite irritating for people with IBS, so be aware of that. On tip I give all my IBS clients is to add in 1-2 tbsps of linseed/flax seed every day. This is one of the foods that’s high in the right type of fibre, has been shown to be most effective, and is low FODMAP, so well tolerated by most.
2. EAT MORE WHOLE GRAINS
White, processed and refined flour and grains feed our bad bacteria. They’re empty carbohydrates with no healthy fibre (as it’s all milled out) to feed the good gut bacteria. However, whole and unprocessed grains do the opposite. They have lots of fibre, which feeds out good gut bacteria, so they can actually produce nutrients for our body.
Try swapping from white bread and pasta to brown, wholemeal versions. Or, try out some new grains, such as amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa. These grains are also gluten free, making them low FODMAP and also less likely to irritate the gut.
3. EAT FERMENTED FOODS
Once you’re eating the right foods to feed the good bacteria that are already in your gut, you can start thinking about adding more good bacteria.
You can spend money on probiotic supplements, but you can also get probiotics much more cheaply and naturally, by eating fermented and cultured foods. These foods contain millions of good bacteria, which will really help boost your gut health. Try starting by having one serving of any of these foods every day: sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, pickled vegetables and yoghurt.
4. INCLUDE HEALTHY FATS IN YOUR DIET
You literally need fat in order to digest your food! If you don’t eat fat, your body can’t actually absorb minerals from your food. On top of that, it helps maintain mental health, help keep you full and, importantly, reduces inflammation. Inflammation in the gut is one of the key causes of gut symptoms and eating healthy fats is the best way to reduce that inflammation. Also, remember how I mentioned above that if your bacteria don’t get enough fibre, they start eating the walls of your intestines. Well, healthy fats help repair those damaged walls.
Omega 3s + MUFAs are the fats that you want to be loading up on. These can be found in oily fish, nuts, chia and flax seed, eggs, avocado, coconut and vegetable oils. If you don’t have much healthy fat in your diet at the moment, start by trying to have one serving of it with every meal. To learn more about why fats are so important for your gut, and the different types, have a read of this post.
5. BUY LOCAL AND ORGANIC
Many fruits and vegetables carry the good bacteria that help us digest our food. We miss out on this good bacteria when we eat non-organic, mass produced food. Food that’s mass produced and sold in supermarkets is sprayed to make it last longer and to make it look shiny on the shelves. This kills off all of that good bacteria and replaces it with nasty chemicals.
To make sure you’re not missing out on this good bacteria, try to buy organic foods from the supermarket, an organic store, or a local farmer’s market. Even better, try growing some of your own. It’s amazing what you can grow even in a tiny window box.
Creating a healthy gut microbiome has 2 parts to it - removing things that cause a dysbiosis and then adding things in to boost your good gut bacteria.
5 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR GOOD GUT BACTERIA:
Eat lots of soluble fibre
Eat more whole grains
Eat fermented foods
Include healthy fats in your diet
Buy local and organic
Which one of these are you going to try and add in? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope it’s helped you on your journey to taking control of your gut, eating well and living your life.