The community of bacteria found within the digestive system is referred to as the gut microbiome. These bacteria are essential to digestion, but also impact a myriad of health aspects via mechanisms scientists are only beginning to understand.
The largest number of bacteria are found within the lower, large intestine. Their job is to digest otherwise indigestible fibers. Keep them busy! With insufficient fiber they can begin to attack the lining of the intestine leading to inflammation and “leaky gut” syndrome.
To enhance the digestive work within the gut, consider the following:
1. Feed the gut microbiome needed fiber.
- Consume more high fiber foods to feed the gut microbiome. Examples include broccoli, lentils, and leafy greens.
- Consume prebiotic foods. Examples include onions, garlic, asparagus, and green bananas.
- Though natural sources are preferred, consider augmenting your fiber intake with products like Metamucil or Benefiber.
- Need a naughty snack? Try a high fiber movie snack of popcorn. If needed, use real butter.
2. Augment the number of live organisms found within the gut microbiome with probiotic sources.
- Consume probiotic foods. Examples include naturally made yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles.
- Though natural sources are preferred, consider a *probiotic supplement.
- Need a snack? Try a pickle, or a plain yogurt enhanced with chia and/or flax seeds.
*Probiotics vary in quality. Generally, supplements with higher numbers of live strains and higher levels of active cultures are better. Probiotics are live microorganisms that have a shelf life. Refrigerate for longer life. Probiotics also vary in effectiveness from person to person. The digestive process should be both regular and agreeable i.e., not unpleasant. Carefully evaluate the impact on regularity during probiotic use. Ideal regularity, in polite terms, is a neat and tidy daily evolution with a solid ending.
A final note: While a typical adult gut microbiome contains about 300 different species of bacteria, only a handful of these will likely be common with your neighbor. Your microbiome is unique to you and your effort to keep it healthy will vary as well.