What is the gut microbiome?

Gut microbiome or gut microbiota refers to the different types of microorganisms that live in the cecum, a small pouch in the human gut.

In fact, 40 trillion microorganisms—more than the 30 trillion human cells that make up the human body—from 1,000 different species live in the human body at any given time.

The thought of millions of bacteria and other microorganisms living in our bodies may not create a pleasant image. Microorganisms that live in the human gut, however, are crucial in helping us maintain better gut health.

According to scientists, each species of bacteria that lives in our gut has a specific role in the digestion process.

That is why medical practitioners recommend increasing microbiome diversity to achieve better gut health.

The past versus the present: How were our ancestors different?

A recent study uncovered that our ancestors had a more diverse range of beneficial microorganisms in their gut.

According to scientists, this drastic difference in gut microbiota between our ancestors and ourselves is down to a change in the human diet.

The study also revealed that our ancestors’ diet included a wider spectrum of food sources that were rich in fibre and low in sugar.

In contrast, our diets tend to contain a higher percentage of sugar, salt, and fats, leading to less diversity in microorganisms in our gut.

According to recent statistics, the majority of our diets only consist of 12 vegetables and five types of meat, which is far fewer compared to our ancestors.

Improve your gut microbiome with healthy dietary practices 

According to gastrointestinal specialists, improving the diversity of your diet may improve the diversity of microorganisms in your body, which may help you attain better gut health.

Here are a few dietary recommendations to improve your gut microbiota. Please note that you will need to speak to your doctor if you are already on a diet as part of a different treatment plan.

Consume fermented food

Fermented food relies on good bacteria to preserve food that may otherwise be spoiled. Consuming more of these food items may increase the diversity of microorganisms in your gut.

Here are a few fermented food items you can try: 

  • Yoghurt

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kefir

  • Kimchi 

  • Kombucha

  • Pickles

Increase the consumption of food rich in fibre

The bacteria in your gut needs fibre-rich food to feed and produce more good bacteria. By increasing your consumption of fibrous foods, you can balance the microorganisms in your gastrointestinal tract.

Here are a few items you can include in your diet for better gut health:

  • Artichokes

  • Beans

  • Legumes

  • Berries

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Potatoes with the skin

Increase the diversity of your diet

Overall, increasing the diversity of your diet may help you achieve better digestive health by balancing microbiome colonies in your gut.

To improve diversity, reduce or balance your intake of meat and increase vegetables and fruits.

Consult a gastrointestinal specialist to improve your gut microbiota 

Dr Suhirdan Vivekanandarajah is a Sydney-based gastroenterologist and hepatologist trained to help patients work towards better digestive health. To find out how you can improve your gut microbiota through better dietary practices, schedule a consultation with him today.