There is an ever-expanding pool of research indicating that your gut health can influence how you think, feel, and function.
But if you want the mental and emotional benefits of a healthy gut, you have to give your gut what it needs.
The magic that fuels your gut’s psychological impact is bugs—tiny little microorganisms that colonize and reside in your intestine. There are good ones and bad ones, and the overall population is known as your microbiome.
There are more than 100 trillion of these microbes inside you.
Ideally, you want the good ones to make up the majority of the population. And although you don’t have full control over the population you’ve got, you do have overarching influence.
Think of them as pets to be taken care of, or citizens of planet You.
You may have heard of probiotics and prebiotics. These are two essential food groups that feed and cultivate a healthy microbiome.
Probiotics are live bacteria, usually found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and many more. The good bacteria in these can immigrate to join the population already in your gut.
Not all fermented foods will have probiotic benefits. It really depends on how much processing they have undergone. When these foods are cooked or heated too much, the organisms—and their benefits—die.
That’s why probiotic supplements may help.
But probiotics, or any healthy bacteria, can’t survive and thrive without prebiotics. Prebiotics are essentially fiber-rich foods that healthy gut bacteria love to eat. That’s why you should eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains that give your microbiome what it needs.
Prebiotics increase your potential of nourishing a flourishing microbiome.
Of course, the Standard Western Diet, rich in refined carbohydrates, refined sugars, processed food, and low in fiber, does little to encourage gut health. In fact, it can help unhealthy microbes proliferate. These unhelpful microbes may contribute to poor mood, inflammatory conditions, and more.
Try to include more probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet to help improve the state of your microbiome. Consistency is required. Try to get at least one of each per meal, while boosting your overall intake of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains in place of processed foods.
Give your gut what it needs to thrive because if you take care of it, it can take care of you.
Mat Lecompte is a health and wellness journalist. This article was first published on BelMarraHealth.com