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How to feed a happy, healthy gut
Your genes and environment are in constant interaction, with your gut as a large melting point. The security tasks are carried out by microbiota, which is a collection of trillions of bacteria and other microbes dwelling in the intestines.
Microbiota is especially present in the colon or the large intestine. The gut is the answer to the roots of several chronic diseases and various connections between health and nutrition. A lot depends on what you feed your gut and having a happy, healthy gut will enhance your overall health and functioning.
The connection between microbiota and inflammation
The condition of your intestinal ecosystem plays an important part in the maintenance of your health and the effect on your health. This is because one layer the cells is the only separation boundary between the immune system and the gut and its contents. Inflammation accounts for being the main weapon of our immune system to fight against harmful invaders from outside.
It is important to have balanced and healthy gut microbiota as it promotes the immune system, making it stronger and lower the levels of chronic inflammation.
Unhealthy microbiota in the gut may be associated with severe conditions such as asthma, obesity, allergies and autoimmune disorders by the likes of celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Chronic inflammation is also considered to be a root reason behind the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and several cancers.
Feeding and care of microbiota
A diet which is high in heavily processed and refined food cause the microbiota to get out of balance. This is because everything that we consume comes into contact with the microbiota. Food and microbiota have a two-way relationship between each other.
The food that we intake has its effects on the composition of the microbiota present in our gut. Similarly, the composition of the microbiota also affects our digestion and absorption of food items.
This connection between the food we eat and the condition of our microbiome is a complex one. However, having a diet which is plant based and contains a lot of fiber and regular fermented food items is essential. This helps in the nourishment and stimulation of certain essential bacteria.
Why is fiber so important?
The microbiota adapts to the surrounding environment. In case the environment does not provide the essential fibers, the microbes will feed on the thin layer of mucus which protects the intestinal lining.
This may lead to a leaking gut along with several other health complications. Hence, you should consume fiber in sufficient amount and try to consume natural food items rich in fiber. These food items are very rich is prebiotic fiber.
This refers to dietary fiber, which does not get digested in the small intestine. It gets fermented by the bacteria which are usually found near the large intestine or colon.
Many plant-based food items are rich in fermentable, prebiotic fiber. They may include artichokes, bananas, barley, -plantains, rye, wheat and alliums such as garlic, onions, and leeks. Broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are called brassicas which contain high prebiotic fiber as well. Lentils, chickpeas, red beans, soy products and jicama are other sources.
In case you do not consume a lot of food rich in fiber, you must slowly increase your intake. There are some prebiotic fibers which may lead to flatulence if you consume too much of them in a short time. They may also lead to the development of symptoms in people who are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.
Resistant starch also accounts for being a good food for the microbiota present in your gut. This can be found in food items like whole grains. Cooked pasta after being cooled down, rice and potatoes also contain resistant starch.
Generally, people find it easier to increase the intake of resistant starch-rich food rather than fiber-rich foods.
Benefits of properly fermented food
Properly fermented food items are full of microbes or probiotics which are beneficial and promotes health. When these food items are consumed on a regular basis, they help the maintenance of good microbes in the gut.
The population of these microbes also gets increased due to the intake of these food items. You can consume probiotics in the form of fermented dairy products.
These may include non-sweetened yogurt, fermented milk, fermented soy-based foods like tempeh and miso and fermented vegetables by the likes of pickles, kimchi or sauerkraut. You should look out for the terms “live food” and “contains live cultures” on the product label.
- Consume the right types of fats
Foods which contain high saturated fat are considered harmful for the diversity of microbiota. Hence, you must go for monounsaturated fat present in plant-based food items.
They can be found in avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil. You can reduce the number of saturated fats by increasing the amount of plant-based foods in your diet.
- Promoting fermentation
Having foods which are rich in prebiotic fiber and fermented foods help in bacterial growth. This helps in the breakdown of plant starches and fibers. They are broken down into SCFA’s or short chain fatty acids.
Several SCFA’s protects you against inflammation and certain cancers while others help with the absorption of essential minerals from food such as calcium, iron, and magnesium. People consuming plant-based meals regularly have higher SCFA levels in their body.