Well there are a lot of things I’m doing to support gut bacteria, like avoiding toxins, managing stress, eating organic… but there’s one in particular I want to talk about today – increasing amount and diversity of fiber, especially that found in fruits, veggies and fresh herbs.
Good bacteria thrive on fiber, bad bacteria thrive on processed foods, sugar and chemicals. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds and most of us don’t get enough of it.
I generally eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, 4-5 cups most days, but it’s often the same thing over and over. Probably around 6 types each day. So I recently set out on a quest to get more diverse, so that I can grow a more diverse population of bacteria. This will help with digestion, immunity, hormone balance and a ton of other functions.
First, I tracked what I was already eating – probably 6-10 different types of fruits and vegetables. Then I decided to increase that. One nutrition-oriented doctor that I follow has his patients eat 20 different things a day. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat a full 1/2 cup serving of each one. Lord no. All it takes is approximately a teaspoon of something for the bacteria to go after it like dogs after a bone.
But the amount of fiber matters too. One 1/2 cup serving (or a full cup of leafy greens) contains about 4 grams of fiber. We want to get 25-45 grams per day. So my 4 cups of vegetables has about 32 grams, plus I do eat some whole grains, nuts and seeds, along with the occasional beans and legumes, so I’m good for fiber, although I do want to increase it to around 45-50g per day. Did you know that some tribal people eat up to 100g per day?! If you don’t already eat a lot of fiber, be sure to gradually build up the amount you eat, otherwise you risk… uhhh, digestive distress.
Eating a variety of vegetables, fruits and fresh herbs allows me to create diversity in my gut bacteria. The more diverse they are, the more powerful they are in how they support me.
Currently, I’m up to about 15 types of fruits, vegetables and herbs. I can get a LOT in a salad alone. Yesterday, I had lettuce, cucumber, daikon radish, apple, cabbage, snap peas and chives (about 1 tablespoon, from a pot in my backyard – easy and tasty!). So that’s 7 for lunch alone. Other ideas – at the end of cooking, you can add a teaspoon of parsley or cilantro to whatever you’re eating. When you’re cooking veggies for dinner, use a small amount of a lot of different types. As far as fruit goes, I’m careful to watch the amount and types I eat, so I don’t spike and crash blood sugar.
Bonus – I’m eating new things and remembering to use those fresh herbs from my garden really makes things taste better! I’m going to make some trips to ethnic grocery stores and see what kinds of new things they have to try.
So – here’s an easy place to start: Track how many different veggies you eat each day for a week, then try to increase the variety. Let me know in the comments how you do!