By Meghan Jardine, M.S., M.B.A., R.D., L.D., C.D.E., associate director of diabetes nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting effective medical practice, higher standards in research, and preventive nutrition.
Did you know we are only 10 percent human? Ninety percent of our cells are nonhuman, microbial cells. Since our diet influences our microbes, it’s true: We really are what we eat.
The good news is that you can cultivate a new microbiota, formerly known as gut flora, in just 24 hours—by changing what you eat. Bacteria that live in our intestinal tract, also known as gut bugs, flourish off of colorful, plant-based foods. The latest studies on microbiota continue to show us how the process works, which explains why the mere mention of gut bacteria sparks conversations in both research labs and newsrooms.
Healthy gut bugs act like quarterbacks in our intestinal tracts: They call the shots and control the tempo by helping our bodies digest and absorb nutrients, synthesize certain vitamins, and rally against intruders, such as influenza and toxic cancer-forming carcinogens. In addition to boosting our immune system, microbiota sends messages to our brain and helps regulate metabolism.
Gut Bacteria Diet
Seven Foods That Supercharge Your Gut Bacteria
- Broccoli & other cruciferous vegetables – Packed with Glucosinolates; Fight inflammation & cancer.
- Bananas – Fight inflammation – Stabilize gut bacteria.
- Beans/Legumes – Release short-chain fatty acids; Boost vitamin absorption; Satiety.
- Jerusalem Artichokes – Rich in inulin fiber; Strong prebiotic.
- Blueberries – Enhance immune system; Destroy harmful bacteria.
- Polenta – High in fiber; Fermentable.
- Fermented Plant-based Food Components – Miso Soup – Relaxes Blood Pressure; Tempeh – Crowds out unhealthy bacteria; Boosts nutrient absorption.