Your Microbiome is just the fancy name for the bacteria that live on and inside your body.
Did you know we have approximately 1kg of bacteria in our digestive system?!? Research is revealing that the balance of bacteria in our bodies can have a big impact on our health, our immunity and even our psychological wellbeing. So it pays to make sure we have LOTS of the healthy good guys in there fighting the good fight for us!
But before you rush out and buy a bunch of probiotic supplements, think carefully. There are lots of different probiotic strains out there, and the impact of probiotics on our health is a very embryonic field of scientific inquiry. Some studies are raising questions and concerns about the impact of probiotic supplements on our health, particularly our immune health. Check out this article and this article to read a little more (and I promise I’ll write a more detailed post on probiotics soon-ish!!)
So how do we build a healthy microbiome without swallowing a handful of probiotic supplements?
Well, the good news is that we can build a healthy microbiome by including probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods in our diets!
There are three things we can do:
Firstly, make sure you include probiotic-rich foods like yoghurt (if you eat dairy) and sauerkraut (check out this awesome recipe!).
Next, (and most importantly!) eat healthy prebiotics. What are prebiotics? These are the foods our good bacteria feed on and are mainly made up of different kinds of fibre, so a high-fibre diet featuring lots of plant foods is the way to go. Think veggies, fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole, unprocessed grains. Aim for at least 25g of fibre a day, and give yourself a huge pat on the back if you reach 40g a day! Reststant starch is an especially beneficial type of fibre that we can create by cooking and then cooling “carby” foods like rice, pasta and potatoes. I wrote all about it HERE so go check it out! Most of my carb-containing recipes use carbs that have been cooked and then refrigerated overnight to boost resistant starch and give our healthy inner bacteria a feast!
Finally, limit processed foods. Research has shown that diets high in processed foods can change our microbiome for the worse. This is because processed foods don’t contain the prebiotics our healthy inner bacteria need to survive and thrive. And worse - they actually feed the not-so-healthy inner bacteria.
For more information on the human microbiome, and its health impacts, check out this vide made as part of the CSIRO Hungry Microbiome project: