10 Ways to Support a Healthy Microbiome
Everyone’s microbiome is slightly different, but for this week’s Healthy Habits, here are some ways to support it in general.
Remember that old song where Judy Garland sings, “Just me and my shadow....” Don’t be lonely: Your microbiome is a constant companion—or should I say companions. There are up to 100 trillion bacterial buddies living with you at all times, most of them in your gut. They help you digest; they are integral to your immune system... yet this relationship is rather one-sided. I mean, what have you done for your microbiome lately? In fact, you may have been sabotaging it by taking antibiotics, eating a diet high in sugar, or supping on factory-farmed meats. Everyone’s microbiome is slightly different, but for this week’s Healthy Habits, here are some ways to support it in general:
- Load up on prebiotic foods. Prebiotics contain fibrous carbohydrates that cannot be digested by people, but that feed the bacteria. Examples include oats, raw garlic, beans, artichokes, raw or cooked onions, raw jicama and asparagus.
- Add probiotic foods, such as kefir, freshly made pickles, kimchee, pickled vegetables and sauerkraut.
- Sip probiotic beverages, such as kombucha.
- Keep alcohol in moderation, but when you reach for a drink, choose red wine.
- Choose healthy fats, such as butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows, coconut oil and high-quality virgin olive oil.
- Consume whole fruits, as opposed to pureed fruit juices.
- Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables.
- Sample fermented soy foods, such as natto, tempeh and miso.
- Sprinkle on the spices of turmeric, ginger, basil, oregano or thyme.
- For a pick-me-up, go with green tea and organic coffee.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. Her latest book is Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!, a science and natural history “gross out” for young readers.