We are not alone. There are around 40 trillion microorganisms living in harmony in our bodies. These are bacteria, fungi and viruses. The human gut microbiome is the bacterial community that lives in our gut. We must be mindful of boosting the gut microbiome. 

The gut microbiome is established at birth and differentiates throughout its development. The quality and quantity of the human microbiome are influenced by lifestyle, diet and drugs.

There are about 1000 species of bacteria. The majority of them are known to scientists for a long period. Most of them are found in the large intestine. When you go down the digestive tract from the small intestine to the large intestine, both the number and diversity of the microbiome increase.

Gut health is one of the most talked-about areas because the gut microbiome affects physical and mental health, immune system function, obesity and cancers.

The gut flora lives symbiotically and mutually. When an imbalance occurs or the number of useful bacteria reduces, it negatively affects the individual’s health.

Impact of the gut microbiome

The genetic makeup of two human beings is more or less similar. However, the human microbiome is the other way around and unique among individuals.

When you take the two identical twins, their genetic makeup is similar. Still, the gut microbiome is entirely different almost all the time. This explains why one is thinner while the other is overweight in identical twins. Or one has some disease, and the other does not have it.

The gut microbiome influences human health in many ways

Gut flora supports the digestion and absorption of nutrients in the gut. For example, they help to digest breast milk in the early days of our life. The bacteria that first grow in the baby’s gut digest the breast milk and absorb the nutrients.

Most foods we eat digest in the small intestine, but the dietary fibres do not. Instead, they are passed down to the large intestine. The bacterial community in the large bowel ferment these fibres and produces a short-chain fatty acid known as butyrate.

Butyrate prevents weight gain, diabetes, heart diseases and certain cancers.

The butyrate is responsible for the augmentation of the gut’s immunity. It promotes the development of the lymphoid tissues in the gut, regulates the production of immune mediators, and influences gut T cells’ composition. These are all factors vital for solid immunity.

Healthy gut microbiota beneficially influences gut morphology. These changes are essential to increase barrier permeability and digestive function.

Another effect is enhancing the nervous system functions and bone health by regulating bone density and calcium absorption from the gut. 

Overall, our gut microbiota plays an essential role in our health.

Scientists have found that certain activities can promote the gut flora while some may demote them.

Therefore, you need to know how to take care of your gut microbiome and good foods to eat. We recommend these eight ways.

1. Eat a wide range of healthy foods to improve the gut microbiome

There are 1000 species of bacteria in the gut. Their effect is different, and their required nutrients are also different.

So, to cultivate a good gut flora (high number and diversity), you must provide the nutrients required for all the species of bacteria by eating a wide range of healthy foods.

Scientists have shown that people (who are in villages) who eat a wide variety of plant food help boost their gut microbiome. Conversely, people ( busy and live in cities) who eat more fast foods & fewer plant-based foods have a poor microbiome.

2. Plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, are good for the gut microbiome 

Fruits and vegetables are good for health in many ways.

Fibres are rich in vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes. Gut microbiota ferments these fibres to produce butyrate, which promotes good health. So what are foods we need to eat frequently?

  • Whole grains
  • Legumes – Chickpea, Lentils, Beans
  • Apple
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Artichokes
  • Green peas
  • Broccoli

3. Take fermented foods and probiotics always

Fermented food production involves bacteria or yeast. These microorganisms convert the sugars in food to organic acids or alcohol. Many of these fermented foods have lactobacilli, a friendly bacteria.

Commonly consumed fermented food is yoghurt. Eating yoghurt regularly helps to boost your gut microbiome, less inflammation in the gut and several other chronic diseases. It also helps to reduce lactose intolerance.

When selecting yoghurt, you need to be careful because many have added flavoured and high amounts of sugar, which are unsuitable for the gut microbiome. So, you need to eat plain yoghurt.

Examples of fermented foods apart from yoghurt include:

  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Tempeh
  • Fermented soybean milk

4. Eat less sugar and sweats

A high amount of sugar or sweeteners resulted in skewness or imbalance in the gut microbiota.

Artificial sweeteners are widely used to replace sugar, especially in diabetes patients. But these negatively affect the gut flora. Also, there is a rise in blood glucose. These negative effects were attributed to the negative impact on the gut flora of these sweeteners. This means that artificial sweeteners may increase blood sugar despite not being sugar.

But we cannot forget sweat at all. So what are the options left with? You can switch to honey, dark chocolate, apples, berries, mango, sweet potatoes & coconut flour as alternatives.

5. Whole grain diet is good for the gut microbiome 

We have heard that whole grain is good for our health. But how?

Whole grain has lots of fibres and non-digestible carbs. These will be passed into the large intestine and fermented by gut bacteria. There is the production of butyrate, which has numerous health benefits.

The fibres also promote the growth of certain beneficial bacteria—Bifidobacteria, Lactobacilli and Bacteroidetes, thus boosting your gut microbiome. 

6. Avoid the use of antibiotics unnecessarily

Antibiotics are essential to use when there is a bacterial infection. However, antibiotics are often used irrationally for common viral infections.

Irrational use of antibiotics leads to many adverse outcomes, such as damaging the gut microbiome and antibiotic resistance.

The unnecessary use of antibiotics has to stop, and it is worth exploring alternative treatments before taking antibiotics.

7. Exercises regularly

Regular physical exercise is recommended for good health all the time. It helps to lose weight and control obesity.

Studies involving athletes have shown that they have a good microbiome. However, those who eat an unhealthy diet have a poor gut microbiome.

Engaging in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day for at least five days a week and two days of muscle-strengthening exercises are recommended.

8. Sleep well

Getting enough good-quality sleep can improve mood, cognition, and gut health. Poor sleep leads to poor gut flora.

Adults need at least 7 hours of good-quality sleep every day. One way to ensure it is to start sleeping and get up simultaneously each day.

The Bottom Line 

Our gut microbiome is the community of microbes that live in the gut, mainly bacteria and fungi.

Boosting your gut microbiome is vital for our health, and any imbalance leads to obesity, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and other disorders.

To boost the gut microbiome, you must eat a wide range of foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fermented foods, and avoid irrational use of antibiotics and heavy alcohol intake. 

8 Lifestyle Tips to Repair and Boost Your Microbiome