The Microbiome Diet: Benefits And Foods To Include
The latest in a string of weight loss trends, the microbiome diet claims to restore gut health and provide many other health benefits. Read on to find out more.
In this article:
The Microbiome Diet + 11 Gut-Healthy Foods and Their Benefits
What Is the Microbiome Diet?This is a diet based on the premise that the beneficial microorganisms living in our gut play a crucial role in our bodily functions. By eating a certain way, or increasing certain foods, the bacteria in our gut will encourage a thriving environment that boosts healthy digestion, nutrient absorption, well-being, and weight loss.
Microbiome Diet Benefits
Here are some of the benefits the microbiome diet can offer your body:
- Improve gut health
- Fight bad bacteria from proliferating in your gut
- Provide more fiber
- Reduce the risk of the leaky gut syndrome
- May help protect your digestive system from disorders such as IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn's disease
What Is IBS? Also known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, this condition is characterized by recurring abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea. It usually affects the large intestine and can be caused by previous infections, anxiety, or stress.
What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome? A digestive condition wherein cracks or gaps form in the intestinal lining, causing toxins, bacteria, and partially digested food to pass through. This causes an imbalance in the gut flora, leading to digestive complications.
What Is Ulcerative Colitis? This is an inflammatory bowel condition which results in sores in the innermost lining of the colon and rectum.
What Is Crohn's Disease? A chronic IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease caused by the body's immune response to tissue damage or injury. This results in pain and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.
Microbiome Diet: What to Eat?
1. AsparagusThis vegetable is popular in many dishes the world over. It is delicious on its own, or in a variety of fatty meats, in plates of pasta, stir-fries, and so on. Besides containing many vitamins and nutrients, it is also healthy for the digestive system. This is because asparagus is high in insoluble fiber, which helps in adding bulk to the stool and encourages regular bowel movements. They also contain a minute amount of soluble fiber, which easily dissolves in water. Soluble fiber is also among the favorite snacks of good gut bacteria, particularly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.
2. LeeksLeeks are related to onions and garlic, which are the most popular members of the allium vegetable family. They are visibly larger but have a milder and sweeter flavor, which lends well to soups and salads. Besides being tasty, leeks are high in dietary fiber, which helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time. They can help you crave less food, which is an important quality to have when wanting to lose weight. Leeks are also high in prebiotic carbohydrates, which help feed your good gut bacteria. It helps those bacteria produce digestive enzymes, which encourage good gut health and function.
This aromatic bulb is the foundation of many dishes around the world. Its pungent smell and taste has the ability to transform many recipes and is even a staple in many traditional medicines thanks to its antibacterial properties. Garlic is also a natural prebiotic. Prebiotics are dietary fibers that are indigestible, which feed the good gut bacteria. Allyl sulfide, a compound present in garlic, is responsible for its many health benefits. Researchers suggest that regular consumption of garlic may help in counteracting age-related changes in the gut, leading to improved cognitive health for elderly people.
4. OnionsThese layered bulbs are so popular they've infiltrated pop culture lexicon. They're featured as snacks and junk food and have divided many people with its presence in foods like burgers. Onions are very high in prebiotic fiber, which the body uses to feed its friendly inhabitants, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. The consumption of prebiotic fiber results in higher levels of these friendly bacteria, which healthy digestive systems require to function properly.
Beans come from the Fabaceae family of plants. They are widely available around the world as a food staple and are a rich source of nutrients, B vitamins, proteins, and fiber. Beans are full of oligosaccharides, which is a type of fiber. These are non-digestible and fermentable fibers that result in the notorious flatulence many people avoid beans for. Oligosaccharides remain intact after digestion and make their way to the colon. From there, the good gut bacteria ferment them, which results in gas. Just because beans make you toot doesn't mean you should avoid them. All the tooting just means the good gut bacteria are happily fed and doing their job well.
This tasty, creamy treat is among the most popular of probiotic foods. Probiotics are live yeasts and bacteria in fermented foods. Yogurt, in particular, contains plenty of probiotic cultures. Its creation process involves heating milk and mixing a probiotic starter. But take note that when shopping for yogurt, aim for the unsweetened kind. This is because sugar works against good bacteria.
7. Cultured VegetablesThese kinds of vegetables are basically pickles. This means vegetables that undergo a pickling or fermentation process. Notable examples of cultured vegetables include sauerkraut and kimchi. Not only does their tangy flavor lend well to savory meals, but they have also saved many cultures from starving over winter. Sauerkraut traces its origins as far back as the 4th century. It is fermented with bacteria from lactic acid. Kimchi, its sauerkraut's spicy Korean cousin. It also uses lactic acid and is a popular Korean food staple. Probiotics that use leafy vegetables like lettuce are great at providing the gut with healthy flora. They are also rich in fiber.
8. KombuchaKombucha is a relatively recent arrival to the trendy drinks scene. But many Asian cultures have been consuming kombucha for thousands of years before it found its way into hip restaurants. Kombucha is black or green tea that results from a specific fermentation process. It has all the health benefits of tea, with an added bonus: friendly probiotics. The fermentation process of kombucha involve strains of yeast, sugar, and bacteria. This forms a symbiotic colony of beneficial bacteria, along with gases that carbonate it. Kombucha contains several species of lactic acid bacteria, which have a variety of probiotic functions.
9. Fermented Soybean Products
Soy is popular as a source for the salty black condiment soy sauce. But soybeans produce a variety of other food products that are beneficial for your gut. One such food is natto, which is a traditional Japanese food made by fermenting soybeans. This results in a sticky, slimy cluster of beans that is usually eaten during breakfast with rice and eggs. Another is tempeh, which is another kind of fermented soybean that is pressed into a patty or cake. It has become a popular and tasty meat substitute. Miso is created by fermenting soybeans with salt and fungus. It is grounded into a flavorful paste that is added to soups and stocks. The fermentation process breeds several species of probiotic bacteria. This helps diversify the gut bacteria in your digestive system.
You can also try these three simple steps to boost digestive health in the morning from BIOHM Health:
The microbiome diet suggests that you stick to eating organic foods as much as possible. This helps in avoiding your body's exposure to toxins, hormones, and pesticides. It also warns against using certain types of medications like antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, and NSAIDs. With this in mind, always consult with your doctor before trying out new diets to find out if they coordinate with any medications you may be taking.
Do you have any experience with the microbiome diet? Let us know in the comments section below! Up Next: