Nourish Your Gut Microbiota

Nourish Your Microbiota

A publication from Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter & the Huffington Post

06/16/2017 03:34 pm ET Updated Jun 18, 2017

Eating a diverse, plant-rich diet helps fuel the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Microbes ― bacteria and other tiny critters not visible to the naked eye but numbering in the trillions ― are busy in your body. Many of these microbes benefit you. Others have the potential to cause harm. This community of microbes is called the microbiota. Their genes are called the microbiome.

Studies of cross-sections of people across the world suggest the more fiber you consume – especially if from a wide range of plant foods – the more diverse your gut microbiota will be. Additionally, intervention studies in people have shown that consuming more fiber and whole grains increases diversity of gut bacteria.

Different microbes are capable of breaking down (fermenting) different fibers. Holscher explains that it takes different enzymes to break down the various fibers found in foods. Some bacteria have many different enzymes, so they can utilize dozens of different fibers. Other bacteria may only be able to break down one or a few different fibers. By eating a variety of plant foods with different types of fibers, you may encourage the growth of a more diverse population of beneficial microbes capable of breaking down those fibers.

See the article in the Huffington Post to learn more.