7 Recommendations for a Healthy Intestinal Microbiota
We seem to be hearing more and more talk about microbiota and its impact on our health. In fact, recent scientific studies have linked it to several health issues such as, obesity, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, depression, and diabetes. Although there is still a lot to learn on the subject, there is no doubt of the importance it plays in maintaining good health.
Microbiota (or intestinal flora or gastrointestinal microbiota) is the complex community of microorganisms that live in our digestive tract. Its individual composition is determined by several factors, namely the transfer of bacteria from mother to child and genetics. However, diet plays a major role in microbial diversity.
The question is, what can you put in your plate to support healthy microbiota?
- Give preference to plant-based foods.
Include more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes in your diet.
- Aim to consume 50 to 55 grams of fiber per day.
Bacteria loves fiber! And here’s a bonus : your caloric intake can decrease by 10% by consuming 14 additional grams of fiber per day.
- Consume at least 5 to 8 grams of prebiotics derived from plant-based foods per day.
Prebiotics are food fibers that nourish the probiotic bacteria in your gut. We can consume 5 to 8 gram portion of prebiotics by eating two cups of leafy greens or a half a cup of legumes/beans per day. Other good sources of prebiotics are artichokes, leaks, onions, asparagus, bananas, flax seeds, whole wheat, oats and soy. Plus, polyphenols, which are packed with antioxidants, are also prebiotics. Polyphenols can be found in cranberries and in red wine when consumed in moderation.
- Include fermented or cultured foods or probiotics in your diet.
Fermented or cultured foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso, traditional soya sauce, kefir, and even kombucha (a fermented tea).Yogurt is also a source of probiotics.
- Avoid red meat, high-fat dairy products, fried foods and food additives.
Most Western populations tend to consume high-fat diets of poor nutritional quality which has been associated with microbial imbalance that can produce an inflammatory response. It is also recommended to avoid consuming highly processed foods and artificial sweeteners. On the other hand, the moderate consumption of fish (omega-3) and fermented dairy products (kefir, yogurt or cheese) is associated with microbial diversity.
- Limit the consumption of high-fat foods, especially if you have or are at risk for type 2 diabetes.
Consuming a large quantity of high-fat foods will increase the body’s resistance to insulin. It is recommended to favour healthy fats, such as nuts/seeds and avocados.
- Take antibiotics only when necessary
Antibiotics destroy all bacteria, good and bad. Therefore, their overuse compromises their efficiency, disturbs the intestinal flora, increases the risk of obesity and promotes the development of drug-resistant bacteria.
In closing, we should avoid excessive cleanliness and spend more time in nature. A healthier lifestyle, where we manage stress, get regular exercise and get quality sleep, will also support a healthy intestinal microbiota.
Source : The seven preliminary dietary guidelines to foster a healthy microbiota were released at the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine (ICNM) on Friday, July 29, 2016, and updated on March 22, 2017