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By feeding your gut what it needs, you’ll help your microbiome grow and flourish. “When you eat, you’re not just feeding yourself but also your microbes, most of which are in the gut,” Dr. Fergus Shanahan says. Here are five ways to feed your gut:
Focus on fiber
Although women need 25 grams of fiber a day, most get only 15 grams a day, which could spell trouble. “Fiber feeds your gut good stuff,” Felicia D. Stoler says. Load your diet with fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Belly up to fermented foods
These foods contain live bacteria, or probiotics, which replenish healthy bacteria in your microbiome, Dr. Raphael Kellman says. Choose foods like kimchee, sauerkraut and kefir.
Give prebiotics a shot
Prebiotics work differently than probiotics in that they support healthy bacteria that already live in your gut, Kellman says. Good sources include carrots, asparagus, radishes, kiwi, leeks and jicama.
Opt for organic, non-GMO, antibiotic-free foods as much as possible
Otherwise, you could be giving your gut harmful toxins. “Pesticides in foods can adversely affect the gut wall and microbiome,” Kellman says. You also should stop using anti-bacterial products and antibiotics unless your doctor knows about the importance of the microbiome, he adds. “Plus, genetically modified foods can upset the ensemble of DNA in the microbiome and, metaphorically speaking, create a virus in the microbiome.”
Diversify your diet
Rugby players from the Gut study mentioned above not only had better gut health but also ate a more diverse diet. “Variety in the diet is no longer the spice of life but rather the staple,” Shanahan says.