What we ingest nourishes the bacteria that live in our body. Yet, the balance of our microbiota is beneficial for our gut health. Let’s see in detail what is good food for microbiota and for health.
Reminder: what is the microbiome?
The term microbiota represents all the microorganisms inside our body. It is composed of 10 to 100 trillion microbial cells¹. This is much more than our own cells! And we are talking of thousands of varied species². They are not only bacteria, but also fungi, parasites, and viruses. These organisms are beneficial for the human health and a part of our human biology.
Although the largest population of microorganisms in the human body resides in the intestine, other bacteria communities reside elsewhere. They live in the genitals, lungs, the skin and anywhere else they feel welcome. For instance, nearly 300 different species have been found in the mouth³.
Why it is important to take care of it with food?
The fragile balance of the microbiota: between eubiosis and dysbiosis
According to the microbiota, it is a question of balance. Its balance is essential because if many bacteria are beneficial, others, on the contrary, prove to be harmful.
When you are in good health, the bacterial species are at a steady state in the microbiota, it’s an eubiosis. Thus, the micro-organisms coexist peacefully. In some cases, we observe an imbalance of the microbiota, it is a dysbiosis. This alteration in the balance of the normal microflora can have several origins, including a diet too rich in fat and too low in fiber. Its impact on health goes from a simple deregulation to a pathology. In fact, the microbiota plays a decisive role in our health. The intestinal microbiota is linked to our digestive health. Indeed, the intestinal microbiota fulfills three major functions: digestion of food, barrier effect against undesirable bacteria and development of the immune system. The existence of dysbiosis is a characteristic of patients with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases.
Acting on a daily basis with good food for microbiota
Prebiotics as modulators of our microbiota
An enrichment of our diet in prebiotics is a way to modulate the population of bacteria in our intestinal microbiota. Prebiotics are a group of nutrients that are degraded by gut microbiota. Thus, they are “the food” of the intestinal bacteria. Indeed, prebiotics cannot be digested by the human body. The digestion by the gut bacteria releases beneficial compounds for our health.
Thus, to develop “beneficial” intestinal bacteria, diet must be enriched with prebiotics.
Dietary fibers, contained in large amounts in fruits, vegetables and legumes are prebiotics considered as good food for microbiota.
A balanced and varied diet for a healthy microbiota
A diversified diet will allow you to maintain a balanced and healthy microbiota. Therefore, it is a good idea to build your meals around plant-based foods, to limit red meat, fatty products, and food additives. Moreover, do not forget to balance your plate with half of vegetable, one quarter protein and one quarter starch. Finally, keep a rhythm of three meals per day. Do not forget that balanced diet is achieved at all levels: plate, meal, day and even week
What is good food for microbiota? Check our recipe!
Soba noodles with chicken, peanuts, and ginger
Soba noodles are gluten-free noodles. They are food good for microbiota because they contain prebiotics that feed your “good” bacteria. Moreover, ginger stimulates digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties.
4 servings – Preparation: 20 minutes – Cooking: 10 minutes
- ⅓ cup crunchy peanut butter
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- coarsely chopped ginger (3 cm)
- 1 package of 100% buckwheat soba noodles (225 g)
- 2 tbsp of sesame oil
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- ¼ cup green onions (green part only)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- In a blender, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and ginger. Mix until a paste is formed. Add just enough water to make a sauce.
- Cook noodles according to package directions.
- In a large pot, combine noodles and sesame oil.
- Add chicken, green onions and carrot. Stir and reheat over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
To sum up, food is a way to keep a healthy microbiota. Indeed, we need to choose the right nutrients to feed our friendly bacteria. Thus, prebiotics can help in case of dysbiosis. We consider it is “good food” for microbiota.
In addition, when it is not enough, or in case of specific needs related to immunity or digestive health, the use of postbiotics is a solution of choice! They can be added to your diet to give a little help to your microbiota. To know more about postbiotics, check or dedicated section.
¹Ursell L.K., Metcalf J.L. et al. Defining the Human Microbiome. Nutr Rev. 2012 Aug; 70(Suppl 1): S38-S44
²Harvard Public Health. Bugs in the System.
³Dewhirst F.E., Chen T. et al. The Human Oral Microbiome. ASM Journals, Journal of Bacteriology, Vol.192, No.19. 2020