A healthy gut microbiome is crucial for overall health
Why gut health is so important?
Your body contains trillions of bacteria all of which are known as the gut microbiome. Some bacteria (let's call them "bad") are associated with disease whereas other (let's call them "good") are responsible for proper immune function, heart health and other.
The microbiome is there to digest fiber and food in general, it controls your immune system ;meaning when there is an infection, your microbiome communicates with immune cells on how to fight this infection (1); and new research has shown us that it even supports brain health by affecting your nervous system (2).
"A healthy gut microbiome results in good gut health"
I'm sure by now you get the picture of how important it is to have good gut health and to treat your gut microbiome well so it can keep performing those processes within your body.
Here are a few ways you can keep your gut healthy:
1. Plant diversity
Starting with legumes, beans, fruit and vegetables which are high in fiber and hence promote the growth of the healthy Bifidobacteria. Not only that but the more variety you include in your diet the more variety of good bacteria you will be digesting to help keep your gut happy.
Your gut microbiome feeds on good bacteria which are found in abundance in whole plant foods, so the more the merrier.
Many studies have shown that a wholefoods plantbased diet benefits the gut microbiome due to the higher fiber content and antioxidants. In addition to significantly decreasing disease-causing bacteria, such as E. coli and other which are usually found in animal based foods such as eggs (3).
2. Eat fermented foods
Fermentation is the process of preserving food by converting carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms such as yeasts or bacteria. Fermented foods are rich in beneficial probiotics while they've been also associated with a range of health benefits, such as better digestion and a stronger immune system.
Fermentation also helps break down nutrients in food, making these foods easier to digest Vs their unfermented counterparts.
Fermented foods include:
- Plant yogurts
3. Avoiding artificial sweeteners
I'm talking zero calorie sodas y'all. Studies show that many sweeteners such as aspartame which are even approved by the FDA to be used as an ingredient in food have negative effects on your gut bacteria, aka they're toxic.
Although the studies were done on mice and not humans, it's in our common sense not to consume anything artificial and stick to natural food ingredients as much as possible.
As a vegan you will naturally be eating way more fiber than you're used to. Give your gut time to adjust as it can take weeks or months to get used to the new high fiber amounts you're feeding it. Going from zero to 100 overnight is just going to cause you bloating, discomfort and gases...
Make sure to increase the fiber gradually overtime and don't be afraid of adding some low fiber foods on a daily basis such as soy products, white potatoes, white rice, white pasta or dried fruit.
Fermented foods is also another great way to avoid bloating, in addition to the many other benefits that we covered in today's article.
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