There are trillions of microorganisms living in your gut. As part of your organism, you want these microorganisms to stay healthy and active.
Diet is one of the main factors to consider here. Today, we look at the best foods to eat and improve your gut health
What’s the Gut Microbiota?
The gut microbiota is the community of microorganisms inhabiting your digestive tract (source).
As part of evolution, they first reached our gut a long time ago (very long). The symbiotic relationship between the host (us) and bacteria provides benefits to both parties (source)
You give them a place to live, while they contribute to your metabolism and health. What I call a perfect relationship.
From the moment you are born, you start to develop your own gut microbiota.
The mode of delivery, breast feeding, and interaction with the environment set the first contact with the microorganisms around you (study)
Role of the Gut Microbiota in our Health
The gut microbiota has a lot to say about your health (study)...
Protect your Intestine
As part of your intestine, the gut microbiota plays a central role in protecting you from pathogens and other threats (study).
It "pushes out" the pathogens, and improves the permeability of the intestinal barrier (study)
Improves your Inmune System
The gut microbiota plays a role in your inmune system as well. It modulates inflammation and the inmune response (study).
The gut microbiota can also help you metabolize compounds you are not able to metabolize.
These are converted into other chemical species we can use for different functions in our organism (study).
Modulates the Gut-Brain Axis
Last (but not least), the gut microbiota modules the gut-brain axis.
Considered our "second brain", the gut is reponsible for the production of neurotransmitters and neurochemicals (study).
The gut microbiota, as part of our gut, plays a central role in the production of such(study)
Probiotics to Improve your Gut Health
Diet, physical activity, use of antibiotics... and the disturbance of the microorganisms in your gut can lead to several health issues (study).
Luckily, there are products available to improve your gut health.
Probiotics are healthy microorganisms that can improve the composition of your gut microbiota (source).
Considered probiotics we have supplements, or foods.
In the case of supplements, there are many different types of microorganisms depending on your needs. The most popular ones (and the ones we know the most) are Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus (source)
In the case of foods, there's a list of foods, mostly fermented foods, that provide microorganisms as well.
Why do Foods Contain Microorganisms?
Microorganisms are responsible of the fermentation of foods (study). They use the sugars and other organic matter from foods to grow and survive. As they grow, their metabolism creates CO2 ,ethanol, or/and lactic acid.
They create the perfect environment for them to grow, as well as preserve the food for human consumption. When you eat the fermented food, you are also eating the microorganisms in there.
Best Foods to Improve your Gut Health
There's a lot of different foods for your gut health. Depending on the culture, your location, or the season of the year, you'll be more accessible to ones or others.
All fermented foods are considered probiotics (study).
Fermented foods provide healthy microorganisms that improve the nutritional value of such foods, as well as neutralizes toxic compounds and antinutrients (study)
Fermented vegetables has always been a great way of preserving foods.
Fermented foods acquire a sour funky taste, which you can use to spice up your plates and give it a punch.
You can pretty much ferment any vegetable. Carrots, cabbage, peppers, cauliflower, beets, radishes,... anything. In this video, Pro Home Cooks explains the general process of making fermented vegetables. Go check it out!!
Dairy products are the other big group of fermented foods. Through lactic fermentation, microorganisms coagulate milk to make the cheese curds and produce milk-derived products (study)
Cheese, yogurt, kefir, butter, cream,... all dairy products that have been fermented will act as probiotics, improving your gut health.
Sourdough bread is made by using a pre-culture of yeast (usually Saccharomyces Cerevisiae) that will ferment the flour to make bread (study)
The flavour of sourdough bread is more nutty and intense than normal white bread. The products of microbial fermentation intensify the flavour of the bread.
Compared to nutritional yeasts or baking powder, sourdough provides nutritional value to the bread, making it a much healthier option than white bread.
In Asian countries, soy is very abundant. To preserve soy from year to year, they fermented it to produce other products.
Soy sauce, tempeh, or tofu are fermented soy products (study). Although research is still on progress, the potential benefits of these fermented products are quite promising.
The fermentation of soy-derived products is mainly done by bacteria (Bacillus spp.) and fungi (Aspergillus spp. and Rhizopus spp.).
Through the process of fermentation, the soy-derived products improve their nutritional value, and other bioactive compounds are formed (study). These will contribute to your gut health.
The gut microbiota refers to all microorganisms living in your gut. It plays a central role in our health, and keeping it healthy is a goal to achieve.
Probiotics can help you improve your gut microbiota. In this post, the best foods to eat for your gut health. Fermented vegetables, dairy products, sourdough, or soy-derived products.