Foods high in fiber become nourishment for your microbiome.
DAY 5 OF 10
Congratulations, you're halfway through the challenge! The whole foods you started eating on day 1 aren't just helping things move along in your digestive tract. They're also feeding the microbes living in your gut.
Fiber and other molecules like resistant starch pass into your large intestine, where these microbes break them down. The undigested and partially digested foods are called prebiotics. They're essential for health (1, 2, 3). Without prebiotics, the beneficial bacteria in your gut can starve, causing a dangerous overgrowth of harmful microbes (4, 5, 6).
Today's task is to introduce even more prebiotics to your daily diet. Aim to add prebiotics to every meal and snack. This list of 19 prebiotic foods is a great place to start. Generally, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and seeds are high in prebiotic fiber.
Cut bananas into your cereal, sauté veggies with plenty of garlic and onions, and get creative with your vegetables. Reach for foods like raspberries, green peas, broccoli, and hummus midmeal for a snack. The friends in your gut will enjoy it, too.
Diets low in fiber and high in animal protein and fat have been shown to decrease the amount of beneficial bacteria, including Bifidobacterium, which help prevent intestinal inflammation (7, 8). On the other hand, diets that feature more fruits and vegetables than meat and other low fiber foods have been linked to a healthy, diverse microbiome (7, 9).
Not only that: You have an estimated 160 species of microbes in your large intestine (10), and like opinionated toddlers, they all prefer particular foods (4). That's why it's important to eat a wide variety of whole foods to best nourish beneficial strains and encourage diversity in your gut (4).