Are We Destroying Our Good Bacteria?
Not all bacteria are bad. In fact, there are billions of good bacteria living in your gut. These bacteria play an important role in various aspects of your health including:
- production of certain vitamins such as vitamins B and K
- immune function
- risk of obesity
- risk of various diseases including cancer
- mental health
When it comes to gut bacteria, the greater and more diverse the population the better. However, research has shown that the typical western diet – which is low in fibre and high in processed foods – is contributing to a decline in good gut bacteria.
But the good news is that you have the power to alter your gut bacteria! A large portion of your gut bacteria is unique to you – based on the foods you eat, the air you breathe, and other environmental factors.
Therefore, you can alter your gut bacteria by making changes to your usual diet. Following a healthy diet can help increase the presence and diversity of your gut bacteria.
Use the following tips to create a healthy diet that allows your good gut bacteria to flourish.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables – aim for 7 to 10 servings per day.
Consume at least 30 g of fibre daily – high-fiber foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds.
Include foods that contain added probiotics – some milks, yogurt and cheeses.
Include foods that naturally contain prebiotics – there are plenty to choose from including artichokes, asparagus, bananas, garlic, leeks, onions and tomatoes; whole grains, barley and rye; fermented foods such as miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, buttermilk and kefir. Prebiotics are also added to some breads and breakfast cereals.
Limit your intake of meat – limit portion sizes to about 3 – 4 ounces per serving.
Limit your intake of processed food – such as processed meats, boxed and canned foods, and frozen entrées.