“Good bugs” in the gut are good for whole health: “They boost immunity and protect against inflammation that can worsen coronavirus,” says Vincent Pedre, M.D. To get the good guys.
Try a famous New Orleans brew.
When brewed, chicory root tastes a lot like coffee — and it’s the #1 source of inulin, a fiber that is good bacteria’s favorite food. Just mix half-and-half with New Orleans’ favorite brew (or sip it on its own!) to supercharge those good guys.
Or, nosh on artichokes, leeks, garlic, or onions. In an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, these inulin-rich foods quadrupled friendly flora within two weeks. Don’t be surprised if you lose weight! In the same study, inulin-rich foods left folks feeling 74 percent more satisfied.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi sneak in tasty doses of beneficial bacteria that produce a friendly fatty acid known as butyrate. The reason that’s important: According to Swedish researchers reporting in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, butyrate lowers levels of gut inflammation by as much as 83 percent.
Sweeten this way.
Next time you want sweet tea, reach for stevia. Dr. Pedre, author of Happy Gut, explains sugar and artificial sweeteners cause negative shifts in gut bacteria — and stevia doesn’t. Not only that, a study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that diabetics who switched to the sweetener lowered their blood sugar by 21 percent.
Stress suppresses beneficial gut bacteria, but as Dr. Pedre points out, “Nothing fills the spirit and lowers stress hormones like connecting to the natural world.” He advises taking a morning walk to enjoy the changing leaves, or simply taking a break in your backyard. Research conducted at Texas A&M University reveals that savoring the sights and sounds of nature can lower stress and tension by 87 percent in just 10 minutes!
Chemicals called phthalates can alter gut bacteria to give bad actors an edge — and studies show the toxins abound in household dust. The good news: Simply placing a dust-trapping mat at your door cuts down on more than just housework. According to EPA experts, it slashes exposure to dust-borne contaminants by 60 percent!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.