By Mia Syn, MS, RDN
March is National Nutrition Month, a perfect time to review how eating habits impact your overall health and wellness. Are you drinking enough water, eliminating processed foods, or curbing “boredom-snacking?” As you think about what is or isn’t working for your body, focus on your gut because this microbiome is vital in supporting everything from digestion and immune health to skin, memory, and mood. (1)
Here are four ways to help maintain a healthy gut microbiome year-round.
Cook more meals at home.
Supporting your gut microbiome can be as easy as eating out less and cooking at home more. Preparing your meals means you control the ingredients, portion size, and flavoring. Studies suggest that meals prepared at home are typically lower in gut-disrupting ingredients, such as saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium, than meals prepared outside the home. (2)
Focus on whole food ingredients like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and lean protein while limiting processed foods, alcohol, and fatty meat. The 2020–2025 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that healthy adults aim for the following each day depending on your age and sex: 1 ½ to 2 ½ cup servings of fruit, 2 to 4 cup servings of vegetables, 5-to-10-ounce equivalents of grains – with a focus on at least 50% whole grains, and 5 to 7 ounces of lean protein from meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes. One easy way to balance your plate at meal time is to use the plate method by filling half your plate with vegetables, a fourth with fiber-rich carbohydrates like whole grains, and a fourth of lean protein.
Make sure you are getting enough beneficial bacteria, aka probiotics.
The gut microbiome has trillions of microorganisms, so incorporating beneficial bacteria known as probiotics into your daily routine can help ensure you get enough of the suitable probiotic types. The most common way to incorporate probiotics is by consuming fermented foods like kefir, yogurt with live active cultures, and pickled vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi. While there is no recommended daily intake for probiotics, the general guideline is to just add as many fermented foods to your daily diet as possible. For example, you could start the day with a yogurt bowl, add a serving of pickled vegetables to your lunchtime salad such as sauerkraut or kimchi, and enjoy a kefir smoothie as a snack.
However, a probiotic supplement can also be beneficial if you dislike fermented foods or beverages. I like TruBiotics probiotic products because they feature select research-backed probiotic strains (Lactobacillus acidophilus LA-5® and Bifidobacterium animalis BB-12®) and spores (Bacillus probiotic strain – B subtilis DE111®) designed to withstand their journey through the body to land where they’re needed—in the gastrointestinal tract—so they can support healthy microbiome diversity, an important marker of a healthy gut.
Probiotics are essential for our gut microbiome because they may restore the gut’s composition and help good bacteria thrive in our bodies.
Almost everyone can benefit from incorporating probiotics. Studies suggest that the gut microbiome is adversely affected by not only by a poor diet, but also lifestyle factors like stress and travel, and environmental factors like pollution.
Focus on fiber
Fiber is an essential yet under-consumed nutrient. The 2020–2025 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans estimate that a shocking 97 percent of men and 90 percent of women do not meet their recommended dietary fiber intake. (3) The recommended average daily intake of dietary fiber is 22 to 28 grams for adult women and 28 to 34 grams for adult men.
Fiber helps food move through the digestive system, promotes regularity, and prevents constipation. Though fiber-rich foods help keep the digestive tract running smoothly, it is important to add fiber to your diet slowly as too much fiber all at once from foods like beans can cause bloating and constipation. Drinking plenty of water with fiber-rich foods can also help prevent those effects.
One particular type of fiber called prebiotics plays a powerful role in gut health. Prebiotics, a cousin to probiotics, is a type of fiber that helps selectively nourish the good bacteria in the gut to help build and maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
Prebiotic foods include dandelion green, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, apples, oats, and chicory root. Besides the probiotic benefits TruBiotics’ probiotic gummies provide, they also offer prebiotic benefits with the FOS inulin, a chicory root ingredient used to make it.
Consider cow colostrum
Lastly, if you’re looking for other novel ingredients to support your gut health, cow colostrum is another excellent option. Similar in its functional components to humans, cow colostrum provides a comprehensive approach to digestive and immune health, the way nature intended. Unlike other single ingredients, cow colostrum contains multiple elements to support digestive function while supporting immune health.
Colostrum contains growth factors and prebiotics, which help support a healthy gut, where over 70% of the immune system resides. The prebiotics found in colostrum promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, helping to create a balanced and healthy microbiome.
Colostrum also helps maintain a balanced and healthy immune response due to its protective proteins and immune factors, which help keep the immune system running smoothly by recognizing and warding off foreign invaders.
I recommend Life’s First Naturals® Colostrum products. It’s suitable for kids (ages 1+), and adults and is available in powder, capsule, and chewable formats.
Stay cool this spring and summer while supporting your gut health and coffee cravings with this lower-sugar Iced “Frappuccino” with a gut-healthy twist.
Gut Healthy Iced Frappuccino
Prep time: 5 minutes
2 cups ice
1 cup black coffee, cooled
1 cup milk of choice such as almond or low-fat milk
2-4 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 scoops Life’s First Naturals ColostrumOne®
Optional: whipped cream and cinnamon for garnish
- Place the coffee, milk, honey, vanilla and Life’s First Naturals ColostrumOne® into a blender and blend on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
- Divide into two glasses and top with whipped cream and cinnamon, if using.