When our gut microbiome is functioning properly, not only do we feel good, we are also working to fight off a variety of diseases. But what steps should we take to promote the health of the gut microbiome? 

Food! What we eat, or don’t eat has a significant impact on the health of the microbiome. As we come into the holiday season, food is on the mind of many Americans, including my patients. Over the next few weeks, we will explore the types of foods and beverages that impact our gut health. Let’s start with Probiotics.

To review, the microbiome is a collection of trillions of cells, including bacteria and fungi, in the intestines that play a role in many of our body’s core functions from supporting the immune system and weight loss to impacting the way we feel including anxiety and depression. It is important to note that no two microbiomes are the same, and what works for one person, may not work for another. That being said, the general rule is that probiotics work for most people.

What is a Probiotic?

Probiotics are live microorganisms, bacteria, and yeasts, that support the digestive system, including the microbiome. Although the research is not conclusive, many people believe there is a relationship between the consumption of probiotics and gut health. Interestingly the word probiotic is a combination of Greek and Latin; it means “Favorable to life”.

There are many different types of bacteria that are classified as probiotics, some of the most important are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces Boulardii. These strains of bacteria have been found to aid in digestive health and alleviate symptoms such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other digestive problems.

Probiotic Foods

We don’t need to go the pharmacist for probiotics, they can be found in a variety of foods, specifically fermented foods. The fermentation process produces many bacteria, including the good ones we need for gut health. That is why so many fermented products such as Kambucha and Kimchi have been popular. The following is a list of foods known to be safe, tasty and contain probiotics. 

  • Kombucha
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Kefir
  • Miso
  • Tempeh