Seen the headlines? We are not alone!
We share our bodies with trillions of microbes. The majority live in our guts, and these tiny critters play a key role in keeping us healthy.
Science is still piecing it all together. But the initial insights are intriguing. Our gut microbes fight off intruders, help digest food, make vitamins, prep and protect our immune systems, and more.
Taking care of our microbes helps them take care of us. We can start by being good hosts: feeding our friendly microbial guests what they’re hungry for.
1. Eat a Wide Variety of Plants, Fruits, and Veggies
Sound familiar? There’s really nothing new about this advice. Just like their human hosts, the beneficial bacteria that make up our microbiome thrive on a diversity of fiber-rich plants and fruits. So go big on bananas, beans, onions, leeks, oats, whole grains, nuts, avocados, leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus; and fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
Pictured: Avocado Salad. This 5-star salad boasts a bunch of healthy, diverse, and delicious fresh veggies.
2. Don’t Overcook the Veggies
Soft, overcooked veggies are quickly digested. Leave a little crunch, and the microbes down the line have more to munch on.
Pictured: Broccoli Mango Salad. This fresh, funky salad is a fruit and veggie mashup, combining broccoli, mango, and mandarin oranges.
3. Chomp on More of the Plant
Eat further down the veggie stalks and stems, not just the soft tips and florets. Your gut will thank you.
Pictured: Roasted Vegetable Medley. This medley goes for gut-health gold with asparagus, yams, parsnips, carrots, zucchini, and red peppers. So much good stuff!
4. Eat Fermented and Cultured Foods
Enjoy yogurt for breakfast, a little sauerkraut on sandwiches and salads for lunch, and this homemade kimchi with grilled or roasted meats.
5. Give an A+ to Artichokes, Asparagus, and Avocados
These fiber-rich foods earn top marks. Also, don't forget about Jerusalem artichokes. Full Disclosure: Jerusalem artichokes are not really from Jerusalem; they're not even artichokes. But despite the fibs, the truth is, they’re among the gut-friendliest of foods.
Pictured: Zucchini and Artichoke Salad. This simple salad combines sliced chicken breasts with artichokes, garbanzo beans, and zucchini.
6. Be Keen for Greens
Your good bacteria love the fiber in kale, spinach, bok choy, and other leafy greens.
Pictured: Roasted Yam and Kale Salad. This one pairs fresh kale with caramelized onions, garlic, and yams.
7. Seek Out Leeks
Leeks are legendary for helping promote good gut health. Watch Chef John make his simple Sexy Fish Stew with lots of leeks, shallots, and fennel bulbs.
8. And, Finally, a Word About Kraut
Sauerkraut's not just for hot dogs. Sneak this fabulous fermented food into summer salads and stir-fries, and onto sandwiches, pork chops, even your scrambled eggs.
Pictured: Sauerkraut Salad. Sauerkraut, onions, celery, bell peppers, carrots, and pimento peppers mingle with a tangy, slightly sweet dressing. Let the flavors meld overnight. Delicious.
Can't get enough? Here are dozens more top-rated recipes for eating with your microbes in mind.