It is important to understand why it is essential to have a healthy gut. Our gut is where most of our immune system originates. It is also where we digest our food to extract all the necessary macro and micronutrients. If our gut isn’t working its best, we won’t absorb what we need and our immune system won’t work as it should.
Our microbiome consists of trillions of microorganisms (microbes) of thousands of different species: bacteria, fungi, parasites and even viruses. When we are healthy, all of these work together and create a balanced, peaceful and healthy environment.
When something causes our gut to be out of balance, the peace is disturbed and the environment is anything but healthy. This can be a short-lived problem that rebalances itself rather quickly, or it can be an ongoing problem because of other health issues such as long-term use of medications, environment or just an overall poor diet. There are definitely things we can do to improve our microbiome and keep it in tip-top shape.
We have discussed pre and pro-biotic foods before (yogurt, kefir, onions, sauerkraut, etc.) but we should also talk about other aspects of food that affect our gut microbiome. High fiber foods help to improve our gut microbiome because short chain fatty acids are released as a result of the fermentation caused by the fiber in the food.
This, in turn, lowers the pH of the gut, creating a better environment for beneficial bacteria. Foods we can eat that help this process are legumes, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, oats and apples. Generally most fruits and veggies, as well as beans and whole grains, help with this fiber process in our diet.
It is important to remember that if we are not used to eating these higher fiber foods regularly, increasing our intake gradually is best. Too much too fast can cause our gut to create too much gas, causing discomfort… for us and those around us!