Many people are now familiar with certain foods that contain live, beneficial bacteria – natural live yogurt being the most commonly consumed in the UK. A live food literally contains lots and lots of living bacteria. Including live foods in to your diet allows you to add to your own gut bacteria, keeping them ‘topped up’ and healthy. Much of modern life kills off our good bacteria, so looking after them is essential. Live foods also include non-pasteurized (not heat-treated) sauerkraut and kimichi (these are fermented vegetables); kefir, a sour, yogurt type drink that has oodles more bacteria than yogurt; water kefir (fermented water); Kombucha (fermented tea) and raw apple cider vinegar – a really useful digestive tonic and anti-inflammatory aid.
Adding some of these foods in to your diet on a regular basis is a really easy way to keep your gut microbiome healthy and a healthy microbiome will ensure your digestion, immune system, hormonal and brain chemical balance and metabolic functions are well regulated. You also need to feed your gut bugs with fibrous foods, as these are what the bacteria need to thrive and multiply (prebiotics). Low sugar fruits and lots of green leafy and brightly coloured veg provide lots of good fibre. Other good sources are pulses, nuts and seeds.
If you nurture and nourish your gut bacteria, your overall health will improve and you will also encourage growth of certain bacteria that appear to be instrumental in regulating our weight. This is a fascinating and very exciting area of research as ‘skinny’ bacteria have been identified, as have those that make us more prone to putting on weight, to type 2 diabetes, even some bacteria that make us more anxious and depressed, and most people eat for comfort when anxious and stressed, which further adds to the challenge of weight management.
Get inspired to eat live and fibre-rich foods to feed those 100 trillion beneficial bugs by reading chapter 5 of my upcoming book: ‘Why Eating Less & Exercising More Makes You Fat”. Out on Nov 10th.