No wonder taking care of gut health has become a national obsession. Sales of probiotic supplements that promise to supply good bacteria to your gut topped $ 800 million in 2020, while sales of “prebiotics” – the indigestible fibers that gut insects thrive on – have doubled every year. year since 2016. Probiotics and prebiotics are found in the intestine. friendly enriched chocolate, snack bars, sodas, oatmeal, peanut butter, dried fruits and breakfast cereals. “Bowel cleanses,” special diets, and at-home microbiome stool testing also promise to boost gut well-being.
But most of the time, you don’t need those expensive products to promote gut health, says Joseph Murray, microbiome researcher, M .D., Gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, M innesota. . “Eat real food,” he says. “Probiotics are probably pretty safe, but very few studies show any solid benefits.” What the new science is showing is that your indoor zoo enjoys the simple life – healthy food and smart habits proven in recent studies to support a diverse gut microbiome and the real benefits of a healthy gut.
Happy microbiome, healthy you
Your microbiome cannot be seen, but sometimes it can be heard. You probably had to choke off the excess gas they were blowing out by munching on the fiber in that bean burrito you ate for lunch, for example. But beneficial gut bacteria produce other compounds with great benefits, including:
- Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which can enter the bloodstream and travel to the liver and tissues throughout the body, playing a role in appetite, feeling of satisfaction after eating, absorption blood sugar levels and how the body uses cholesterol. Other SCFAs stay in your intestines, where they can help kill colon cancer cells and reduce inflammation in the gut.
- Indolepropionic acid, which removes compounds that are harmful to cells called free radicals and may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), which could explain the links between the microbiome and depression. It’s not just your brain that produces these feel-good chemicals, Gilbert says. “A healthy gut microbiome will contain many bacteria that produce GABA, which in the intestines helps the intestinal nervous system regulate intestinal peristalsis, where the intestine contracts and pushes food through the intestines. It helps you stay regular, ”he says. But GABA also controls the way brain cells communicate. It may not be a coincidence that gut health issues like constipation and diarrhea are often accompanied by depression, he says.
Overall, a diverse microbiome is a good thing, says Hannah Wastyk, a former gut insect researcher at Stanford University who is currently studying the potential of the microbiome to treat inflammatory disease. “A healthy microbiome contains 250 to 300 different species of bacteria,” she says. “Low would be 70 to 80 species. In humans, low diversity has been associated with inflammatory bowel disease, psoriatic arthritis, type 1 and 2 diabetes, obesity and arterial stiffness. Diversity means a greater variety of beneficial bugs, including backups if something happens to a guy, Murray says. “Each of us has a unique microbiome,” he says. “Some are from what we eat, some from our mother, some are genetic, some are the result of bad things we do to her, like antibiotics that can kill the bacteria that are our friends in this.” community. ”
Gut health tips that work
You can nurture a diverse gut microbiome for good gut health without supplements, fortified foods, or microbiome testing. Experts say these six daily strategies work:
1. Eat fermented foods regularly
People who had fermented foods – like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, or kombucha (a fermented drink) – daily for 10 weeks increased the diversity of their gut microbiome in a University of California study. Stanford in August 2021. But study participants who ate more high-fiber foods saw no increase in diversity, a finding that shocked researchers, according to study co-author Wastyk. . “No one expected the fermented food group to have this answer,” she says. “Everyone was like, ‘What is this? “”
Even more surprising: only 10% of the good bacteria found in fermented foods actually made their home in the participants’ gut. Wastyk believes that fermented foods can increase diversity by unbalancing the microbiome a bit, giving existing small colonies of bacteria a chance to thrive. Wastyk suggests finding several fermented foods that you like and consuming them on a daily basis. Look for yogurts that contain live, active cultures and foods that haven’t been heat-treated, which would kill bacteria, she adds.
2. Eat a greater variety of products
When more than 1,000 people sent stool samples and diet data to the American Gut Project launched by Gilbert at the University of California S an D iego, researchers found that those who ate 30 or more types of products in a week had a more diverse gut microbiome than those with less than 10 types. Doing this was more important for the diversity of gut insects than if the participants were vegetarians or meat eaters. Having an assortment of fruits and vegetables provides a greater variety of types of fiber, starches, and other nutrients that feed a greater variety of bacteria, Gilbert explains. “Don’t just eat peas for dinner,” says Gilbert. “Eat the rainbow. Colors[of fruit and vegetables] are chemicals that feed different types of bacteria.
Include broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Brassica family vegetables like these (along with collard greens, bok choy, arugula, and Brussels sprouts) feed beneficial bacteria that suppress bugs. gut related to ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. The bacteria that eat crucifers also teach the intestinal immune system to produce the protective, fluffy mucus that lines the inner lining of the intestines, Murray explains. But that’s not all. Microbes in the gut convert glucosinolates in vegetables of the genus Brassica into active isothiocyanates which help prevent cancer.
3. Grill your good insects with a cup of tea or coffee
Plant compounds called polyphenols found in coffee and black or green tea can increase the number of beneficial bacteria that protect the inner lining of the intestines and pump out short-chain fatty acids. Bedbugs also convert polyphenols into forms that have protective effects in the body, including preventing inflammation, protecting cells from damage, and even protecting against cancer. Your microbiome will also love berries rich in polyphenols, asparagus, artichokes and olives.
4. Go fishing
People who ate five dinners of salmon or cod a week for eight weeks saw the levels of a group of unwanted gut bugs called Bacteroidetes drop, compared to people who skipped fish and ate their usual dinners in a 2021 study in Norway. Bacteroidetes are associated with type 2 diabetes, the researchers note. In other studies, people with higher blood levels of good fats exhibited a greater diversity of microbiomes and more beneficial bacteria, even if they were not on a high-fiber diet.
5. Cut back on artificial sweeteners and emulsifiers
Sucralose, aspartame and saccharin can disrupt the diversity of the microbiome in ways that can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb blood sugar, according to Canadian researchers. “And the powerful emulsifiers in processed foods can break down the protective layer of mucus in the intestines where many good bugs roam,” says Murray. In a 2021 study, French researchers found that the emulsifiers carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate 80 “have a profound impact on the gut microbiota in a way that promotes gut inflammation and associated disease states.”
6. Avoid probiotics most of the time
The certainty of scientific evidence is low that probiotic supplements can help adults avoid diarrhea while taking antibiotics, treat ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, or relieve pain and other symptoms of the “syndrome” of “irritable bowel,” according to a 2020 review of well-designed studies by the American Gastroenterological Association. “The best thing you can do is eat fermented foods and ideally lots of fiber,” says Gilbert. If you’re new to foods high in fiber, start small and increase as you get comfortable to avoid gas and bloating, Wastyk adds.
Probiotics may not even be helpful in restoring the gut bacteria eliminated by antibiotics. In a 2018 Israeli study, people who took probiotics after a course of antibiotics still had a disrupted microbiome five months later, while people who didn’t take probiotics saw a healthy bacterial balance return afterwards. three weeks. Eating fermented foods that are high in fiber is a better idea, Gilbert notes.