The bacteria inside your gut, collectively known as your microbiome, works hard to digest the food you eat, they produce vitamins that keep you functioning at your best and they help support a healthy immune system. You can support your microbiome in a lot of ways, like by eating probiotic- and fibre-rich foods (prebiotics) and in turn, your microbiome will support you.
A healthy gut can be beneficial for managing your mental health, controlling your cravings and boosting your immunity. So who wouldn't want to take some extra care and reap those benefits? Eating to support your gut can be simpler than you think, especially when you keep these tips in mind.
The Best Diet for Your Gut
The Mediterranean diet is less about following a strict regimen and more about focusing on holistically healthy eating. This way of eating focuses on whole grains, plenty of fruits and veggies, fish and healthy fats. Because this eating style prioritises healthy ingredients rather than cutting out carbs or slashing calories, it's one of the easiest to follow. It is rich in fibrous produce, which are paramount for a healthy gut. The number-one indicator of a healthy microbiome is how many different plant-based foods (such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains) a person regularly consumed. Additionally, the Mediterranean diet limits things like processed foods and added sugars, which are some of the worst foods for gut health. Sugar feeds the bad gut bacteria, that crowd out the beneficial bacteria.
The 3 Worst Diets for Your Gut
First up is the ketogenic diet, which eliminates a lot of healthy fruits, veggies and grains in a quest to drastically cut down your carb intake. Keto is quite popular right now because it does facilitate quick weight loss, but it's restrictive philosophy makes it challenging to follow in the long term. Plus, the ultra-high-fat diet that keto promotes poses long-term risks to your gut health. A low-carb, high-fat diet increases inflammation in the gut. Inflammation is one of the leading causes of chronic diseases.
Another surefire way to undermine your own gut health is by following a low-calorie diet. There's nothing wrong with setting healthy, balanced nutritional goals, and that can include lowering your calorie intake. A very low calorie diet (800 calories per day) can result in a severe lack of energy caused by an unhealthy gut. It can change the composition of your microbiome and result in increased inflammation.
Whilst I hope you aren't following a diet too low in calories, a diet that's high in calories can be just as harmful. Eating a diet high in processed food, refined sugar and added fats, often referred to at the Southern-style diet, is not the best way to support your microbiome. We know that a high-fat diet is tough on the gut, and refined sugar is no friend to your gut either. Consuming a lot of sugar can actually change the composition of your microbiome, and artificial sweeteners can alter your gut and increase your risk for diabetes.
The Bottom Line
It remains true that exercise, sleep and a balanced diet are the best ways to take care of yourself. Whether you decide to follow the Mediterranean diet or go your own way, simply enjoying the food you love with lots of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and whole grains will set you on the path to eating for a healthier gut.
Looking for a place to start when it comes to eating for your gut health? Get in touch with Michelle for meal plans or a more comprehensive gut healing plan.