Sounds like a big number, right? That’s how many bacteria exist in our gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem of different bacteria that break down nutrients and enable the digestive processes. Much of our general well-being depends on the proper functioning of this part of our body. One of the most striking features of the gut microbiome is how diverse it is. There are 300-500 different types of bacteria that work hard to keep the body healthy.
Gut diversity for better health
The type of food one eats, the moods and mental states, the external environment, and genes are some factors that determine the composition of the gut microbiome. The good news is most of the factors are in our control. This gives us the ability to consciously build an environment that is healthy and restores gut diversity. The more diverse the types of bacteria, the better it is for our health. However, it must be noted that food which encourages the growth of good bacteria is the type that should be consumed more. An excess of bad bacteria can cause sickness.
There are many benefits of having a healthy gut – or working towards restoring gut health. Gut diversity helps with insulin resistance which is the need of the hour as health issues related to this are on the rise in India. Along with that, it also encourages weight loss which in turn promotes greater gut diversity. Restoring gut diversity can also lessen the inflammation in the body. Similarly, it can also reduce the effects of allergies or even prevent them from happening. It is also great for building a strong immunity system which is quite important given the contamination and pollution around us. Last but not the least, it increases the potential of the gut to absorb more nutrients from food.
Foods that can help in increasing gut diversity
Food is the key to restoring gut health. Consciously choosing to eat healthier can go a long way in encouraging a healthy environment for the bacteria in the gut. Here are some foods that can help in achieving that:
1. Fermented foods:
Fermented food like yoghurt is good for restoring gut diversity because the process of fermentation makes it rich in lactobacilli. This is really helpful for digestion and encourages the growth of good bacteria. It also helps in reducing inflammation and prevents chronic diseases.
It is important to note that yoghurt can often be flavored. This is very unhealthy as it usually contains a lot of sugar to make it appetizing. So to experience the benefits of yoghurt, one must opt for plain natural yoghurt that contains live active cultures. It basically contains active bacteria that enters your system to make it healthier.
2. Vegetables and fruits of different kinds:
A diverse gut can only result from a diet that is equally diverse. The fiber from the different fruits and vegetables help in encouraging the growth of bacteria that can digest fiber. It also prevents the growth of bacteria that can lead to diseases. Consumption of fiber leads to less intestinal inflammation.
It is important to note that the consumption of the same vegetables is not going to be very beneficial in the long run. Eating what is in season, and including a great variety of fruits and vegetables, is the only way to make the best use of what vegetables and fruits have to offer.
3. Food with polyphenol:
Polyphenol is a compound found in plants that is very good for health. It reduces blood pressure, cholestrol, and inflammation. They also reduce the amont of harmful bacteria in your gut, thus restoring your gut health. Now, consuming them can be quite delightful because they are found in food like cocoa, dark chocolate, wine, almonds, green tea and blueberries.
4. Whole grains:
Whole grains keep you fuller for longer and also encourage activity in the large intestine. They can’t be digested anywhere else so the bacteria grow better when whole grains are consumed. Rich in fiber, they prevent problems like inflammation and certain risks related to cardiovascular health.Along with these foods, there are certain other lifestyle changes that need to be inculcated to restore gut diversity. Sleeping on time, reducing fat if one is overweight, and exercising are essential for good gut health. Snacking too much, consuming anti-biotics, artificial sweetners, and drinking excessively is detrimental to gut health. So is being exposed to prolonged stress. Thus, it is essential to be aware of all these aspects and look after them for a happy and healthy gut!