By Julie Viellieu, M.A. May 7, 2018

Everything we do either supports our good gut bacteria cells or causes unhealthy bacteria cells to rise. Our bodies are much more than a system of organs and blood vessels; we carry more bacteria cells in our body than anything else. It's crucial that these cells are largely made of good bacteria versus bad bacteria to support our gut health, immunity, and overall state of well-being.

One of the most important factors to caring for our bodies is to eat a diet that builds diversity in our gut microbiota. The microbiota plays a central role in immunity, digestion, inflammation, and cell proliferation, and is capable of communication with all our organs and bodily systems, like the brain and central nervous system. Unhealthy bacteria levels get out of hand and grow when we eat foods with antibiotics that destroy our good bacteria cells, foods like factory farmed meats or highly processed packaged foods, or foods coated with pesticides. One of the most beneficial things you do to support your microbiota and head toward long-term health is to eat more whole plant-based foods.

Here is a list to get you started to feed your microbiota.

Fiber: Fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Variety and lots of color are key.
Benefits: Regulates and maintains bowel health.
Serving: Aim for 50 grams per day.

Probiotics: Found in clean yogurts and fermented foods and beverages.
Benefits: Provides "good bacteria" to your gut.
Serving: At least one serving per day.

Prebiotics: Includes honey, bananas, onions and leeks.
Benefits: Serves as food for the "gut-promoting" probiotics.
Serving: Try to pair prebiotics with probiotics, one serving per day.

Eat more whole plant-based, unprocessed food in place of animal-based and processed food options whenever you can, and when possible choose organic--or grow some of your own--so you're not putting large amounts of pesticides, chemicals, and other unnatural ingredients in your body that don't support your microbiome. When you make these simple changes, everyone wins: the planet, animals, and you, along with the trillions of bacteria cells you coexist with daily.

(Julie Viellieu graduated from Integrative Health Studies in 2017. You can visit her website.)

Integrative Health Studies, Alumni

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