The US-based non-profit Physicians Committee has released several guidelines for maintaining a healthy microbiota, following the No Guts, No Glory: the Microbiome in Diabetes continuing medical education presentation at the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine (ICNM).
The seven guidelines are:
Build meals around plant-based foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes
This plant-based foundation supports symbiosis, or microbial harmony, in our gut. A thriving microbiota helps maximise absorption of nutrients and vitamins, while regulating immune function, inflammation, hormones, mood, and behaviour.
Aim to consume at least 50 to 55g of fibre each day
Historic populations consumed nearly three to four times as much fibre as we do today. Increasing dietary fiber intake by at least 14g a day decreases net energy intake by 10%.
Consume at least 5 to 8g of plant-based prebiotics each day
Good sources include Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, raw dandelion greens, leeks, onions, garlic asparagus, whole wheat, beans, bananas, oats, and soybeans.
Add fermented foods, or probiotics, to the diet
Dietary sources include kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, soy sauce, water kefir, and kombucha.
Avoid red meat, high-fat dairy products, fried foods, food additives, and advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs include proteins and fats exposed to high heat and sugar molecules, like sausages and candy bars.
Limit fat intake, especially if there is a risk for type 2 diabetes
Instead, opt for healthful sources, including an ounce of nuts or seeds or a small amount of avocado.
Use antibiotics only when necessary and avoid using for viral illnesses
Overexposure to antibiotics destroys good gut bacteria, along with the bad.
The microbiota, composed of 1,000 different species, weighs between 1.8 and 2.7kg and helps maintain internal homeostasis. What we eat feeds beneficial bacteria that respond to changes in just 24 hours. This influences both immune function and our risk for chronic disease.
“The microbiome is a complex field, but we can manipulate our dietary choices to create colonies where beneficial bacteria flourish,” says Meghan Jardine, Associate Director of diabetes nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “Whether you want to treat diabetes, reduce the risk of a heart attack, or bolster athletic performance, you can start by building meals around colourful, plant-based foods.”
Download Seven Dietary Guidelines for a Healthy Microbiota