The gut microbiome, a complex community of microorganisms residing in our digestive system, plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is essential for proper digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function, and even mental health. While each individual’s microbiome is unique, there are several best practices, including those rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), that can benefit everyone. In this article, we will explore the top five practices, incorporating TCM principles, to maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
Eat a variety of fermented foods (at least one daily)
Fermented foods are rich in beneficial bacteria that can help replenish and diversify the gut microbiome. Consuming fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and tempeh introduces probiotics into the digestive system, which can enhance microbial diversity and promote a healthy gut. TCM recognizes the importance of fermented foods in supporting digestion and gut health, as they are believed to tonify the Spleen and Stomach organs, which are responsible for the transformation and transportation of food.
Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that fermented foods can positively impact the gut microbiota. A study conducted by Marco et al. (2017) found that the consumption of fermented vegetables led to increased levels of beneficial bacteria, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, in the gut (1). Incorporating fermented foods into your daily diet can contribute to a healthier gut microbiome.
Eat foods high in polysaccharides every day
Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates found in certain plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and mushrooms. These compounds act as prebiotics, providing nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria. TCM emphasizes the consumption of foods rich in polysaccharides to support gut health and overall well-being.
In a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, Zhao et al. (2020) investigated the effects of a polysaccharide-rich extract from Lycium barbarum (commonly known as goji berries) on the gut microbiota. The researchers observed an increase in beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, and a decrease in harmful bacteria in the gut (2). Incorporating foods high in polysaccharides, like goji berries, into your daily diet can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
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