By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
You may have heard of the human microbiome, as it’s a buzz phrase in the health and wellness world that many doctors, nutritionists and health-interested people are talking about—specifically how to keep it healthy. Here are the facts you need to know about your microbiome and how to keep it healthy.
What is the microbiome?
The human microbiome refers to all of the bacteria that live inside of us in our guts, mouth, ears, nose and everywhere else—it also refers to all of the genetic material and genes that the bacteria carry with them. When we count up all of the bacteria (including their cells) that live inside of us as compared to human cells, bacterial cells outnumber human cells 10:1. So it’s in our best interest to keep all of our bacteria healthy and working well.
What does bacteria do for your body?
Most of the bacteria in our bodies lives in the gut, and therefore influences processes that are associated with the gut, but they also play a role in other key parts of our bodies and in overall health.
Gut bacteria plays a role in digestion — both keeping the lining of the intestine healthy and in breaking down the food that we eat, sending messages between the gut and the brain, immune health, and more. Research also suggests that our bacteria plays a key role in the process of healthy weight management and weight loss. In short, keeping your bacteria healthy is key for overall health.
Foods that help to keep your healthy bacteria happy:
These foods and food groups help to nourish the good bacteria in your body, so it’s key to include these foods and even supplements to help to promote healthy bacteria growth and nourishment in your body.
Foods to include:
Prebiotic-rich foods: These foods contain nutrients that nourish your healthy bacteria
Probiotic-rich foods and supplements: These foods and supplements contain healthy bacteria for your body
Foods to avoid or limit:
Certain foods can wreak havoc on the bacteria in your system and instead of nourishing the healthy bacteria, these foods and food groups nourish the less-healthy bacteria and should be limited.
For more information about how to keep your gut healthy, see these other posts:
The Power of Probiotics
Why You Should be Eating Fermented Foods
How to Keep Your Gut Healthy