I saw this video on TED-ED really interesting about something I had been studying a lot and is how food influence our gut bacteria, that is, our microbiota.

When I saw the thumbnail I instantly thought, I have to share this. So here I am.

I want to talk. Actually to sum up what the video says about this topic in case you prefer to read about it.

How food influence our gut bacteria

So to start you have to know that microbiota is all of our bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and viruses that can be found in our gut. To make it simple, we only care for bacteria.

That is because bacteria in our guts can break down food that our body cannot digest by itself. Also, bacteria produce important nutrients, regulate the immune system, and even protect us against harmful germs.

I love the way that bacteria protect us, but I will explain that in another post.

One of the rules of the universe is the balance. And our gut is no exception, so it’s very important to have a variety of bacterial species so we can say that we have a healthy microbiome.

There are many factors that affect our microbiome:

  • Environment.
  • Medications like antibiotics.
  • Whether we were delivered by C-section or not.
  • Diet.

Of course, diet is the most important. It’s the leading influence on the health of our guts.

Dietary fiber from foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains are the best fuel for gut bacteria. As you can see, those are all natural foods. There’s no pizza or tuna listed in there.

When bacteria digest fiber, they produce short-chain fatty acids that nourish the gut barrier, improve immune function and can help prevent inflammation, which reduces the risk of cancer. If you don’t know the gut barrier is what avoid that some bacteria or food particles get into other organs and cause problems. So, yes, it’s very important too.

Here’s the trick to get more of that good bacteria. The more fiber you digest, the more fiber-digesting bacteria colonize your gut.

You may be thinking what happen if I decide to avoid fiber and keep eating processed food?

Here’s the thing. Lower fiber means less fuel for the gut bacteria, so they will starve to death. This will result in less diversity of bacteria. Actually, some bacteria will start to feed on the mucus lining.

But is not just that. We also know that specific foods can affect gut bacteria making things worst.

Foods correlated with increased bacterial diversity

These are foods correlated which mean that not necessary there’s a strong cause and effect relationship.

  • Fruits. No doubt about it.
  • Vegetables. Obviously.
  • Tea. Acceptable.
  • Red wine. Acceptable.
  • Dark Chocolate. But with no sugar added.
  • Coffee. But with no sugar or milk added.

Those foods in their natural form have polyphenols which are naturally occurring antioxidant compounds.

 

Foods correlated with decreased bacterial diversity

Let me put this very clear so everyone can read it and understand it. Whole milk is correlated with decreased bacterial diversity in the gut which is not good for health. The same goes to sugar-sweetened sodas which are not surprising, we all know those are bad for our health.

How food is prepared matters

Fresh foods have more fiber and provide better fuel. But if you want to cook them, the best way to retain the fiber levels are through light steam, sautéed, or boiled with low levels of water.

 

There you have. This is what you need to know to be healthy. Because a healthy gut is a happy life.

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